Price of global warming on the rise

By Liz Lavin
April 19, 2007

Seth Borenstein/MCT

The United States is one of the biggest contributors to global warming, along with Western Europe. The United States spends billions of dollars to make sure that they are ready for the consequences of global warming, according to the New York Times.

However, the United States is not the country with the most to fear. The world’s poorest nations are the most vulnerable to the effects of global warming.

Africa accounts for less than three percent of carbon dioxide emissions yet its citizens suffer the most from drought, also according to the New York Times. Southern Asia and Egypt suffer from melting ice filling their river deltas. Egypt already imports over half of its food and more saltwater in the Nile would damage the irrigated lands that support their agriculture, according to Dr. Norman Meyers, an expert in the field of natural science, in an article at He says that with the predicted population of Egypt for 2050, the rise of sea level could displace more than 14 million people.

Dr. Mary Harris, assistant professor of business administration, concentrated on the issue of global warming with her class last semester. They did a study which asked the question, “is the cost of global warming too big to ignore?”

Junior mathematics major Stephanie Haag, who took the course, says it is critical to address global warming now.

“For many earlier civilizations, conflicts between the environment and the economy led to their demise,” she said. It proves “just how critical it is that we pay attention not only to the state of our economy but also to the state of our environment.”

The study concentrated on the Kyoto agreement and why the United States would not sign it.

China is also one of the world’s biggest contributors to global warming and “the Kyoto treaty would have made the U.S. more responsible for the costs of global warming and the president thought that this was not fair, because China also contributes so much,” senior English and communication major Gail Ziegler, another student in the course, said. With the United States being one of the wealthiest nations along with one of the biggest contributors to global warming, does that make it our obligation to help the poorest nations prepare as much as possible for the consequences they may face?

“Some countries can not contribute as much because they are still developing and the cost would be too much for their economy, however, this does not change our obligation,” Ziegler said. “Because we are able to, we are therefore obligated.”

“Given the significant role that more industrialized nations often play in the activities that cause global warming, I think it is important that they work together [with poorer nations] to help stop global warming,” Haag said.

Harris says the matter is complicated. She says she expects that the United States would be expected to contribute more, but it is a lot more complicated than “we caused this much damage, we should pay for this.”

Ultimately, the answer to the study was yes, the cost of global warming is too big to ignore.

The cost of global warming “is going to be expensive,” Harris said. “The longer we wait the more expensive it will be.”

Liz Lavin

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