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The Costs of Extreme Weather: Climate Inaction is Expensive

In this column for Dollars & Sense, Garrett-Peltier describes the courses of action available to us in response to dramatic weather changes: mitigation, adaptation, and reparation. Mitigation refers to efforts to prevent or reduce climate change, for example, cutting fossil fuel use by increasing energy efficiency and using more renewable energy. Adaptation refers to changing our behaviors, technologies, institutions, and infrastructure to cope with the damages that climate change creates. And as the term implies, reparation means repairing or rebuilding the roads, bridges, homes, and communities that are damaged by floods, winds, heat, and other weather-related events. She argues that mitigation is the one strategy whose costs and benefits can both be shared globally. Moving toward a more sustainable economy less reliant on the burning of fossil fuels for its energy would slow the rise in average global temperatures and make extreme weather events less likely. This is both sound economic planning and also the most humane and equitable approach to solving our climate problem.

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