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The Price of Climate Change
Caley Conser

Sep 25, 2023

Climate change is going to be expensive, and the US hasn't figured out whether to pay sooner or later.

Greenhouse gas emissions are a fundamental part of producing the energy people everywhere use today. As the world’s population grows, and global production expands exponentially, the amount of gas emitted has increased by a staggering degree. 

The large majority of the gas emitted is carbon dioxide, a chemical compound that traps heat inside of our atmosphere and, in turn, heats up the Earth. Adverse effects follow.

The most detrimental effects include worsening natural disasters such as floods, drought, wildfires, extreme heat and hurricanes. With these disasters comes a new problem the globe must face: paying the price for the damages.

The White House’s Office of Management of Budget has predicted that natural disasters, such as those mentioned above, could “cost the U.S. federal budget about $2 trillion each year — a 7.1% loss in annual revenue — by the end of the century." These costs come in different forms, such as necessary increases to the budget for disaster relief and insurance.

The OMB predicted that costs of remedying wildfires alone could “increase between 78% and 480% by the end of the century." These billion- and trillion-dollar bills do not bode well for the future of the United States economy, nor the global economy as a whole. 

The issue the country now faces is how to mitigate costs. In 2021, President Biden proposed a vast increase in spending to fight against climate change in his Build Back Better Act. This plan included $45 billion in new spending to help remedy climate change, totaling to $555 billion in climate spending, which was a 60% increase in funding in the year of 2021. 

Many politicians have been eager to initiate higher climate spending by the government in order to avoid the horrific effects of worsened natural disasters. However, the cost of this plan has also been criticized, with some pointing out that spending could worsen already burgeoning inflation in the economy. It has also been noted that some of the predictions made by the OMB and others may be inflated or inaccurate, a critique characteristic of the partisan skepticism that pervades American politics. 

Nevertheless, climate change is here, and it is here to stay. As the effects of greenhouse gasses on the environment increase, so do the damages. These damages cost money to repair, which must be paid eventually. It is up to our representatives to work together in figuring out how and when these costs will be paid.


Newburger, E. "Climate change could cost U.S. $2 trillion each year by the end of the century, White House says." CNBC, 4 Apr. 2022,

Tol, R. "The economic effects of climate change." The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 23, no. 2 (2009): 29–51.

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