Yes, moving to a low-carbon economy will be difficult, bumpy and entail costs. Yet by almost any measure it will be far, far more costly to continue blindly on our present course, burning fossil fuels willy-nilly and scrambling the world’s climate for generations to come.
For a different metaphor on costs, see “Too costly? is fixing your car brakes too costly?”
Also, Richard Alley in EOM’s “How to talk to an ostrich: “We can’t afford clean energy.”
The “can’t afford it” argument brings to mind yet another analogy. Riding aboard the Titanic, White Star Line chairman Bruce Ismay reportedly kept urging Captain Smith to go faster, declaring:
“‘We shall beat [sister ship] Olympic‘s time to New York and arrive Tuesday night!’ It would be a terrific publicity coup for the White Star line. . . arriving ahead of schedule. . . in time to make headlines in the Wednesday morning papers.” (2)
Needless to say, the speedy Titantic did make headlines, but of a different sort than Ismay intended.
Subsequent analysis suggests that, if Captain Smith had heeded ice warnings from other ships and slowed down by even a few knots, the Titanic could have turned in time to avoid that iceberg. (3)
And what about us, aboard Planet Titanic? We’ve been warned repeatedly about the hazards ahead. Will we “turn in time” to avoid a climate wreck? Or listen to those who say, “We can’t afford to slow down. Full steam ahead!”
For more on the Titanic metaphor, see “That iceberg looming just ahead. . . is global warming.”
(1) Kudos to blogger Gillian King at Thisness of a That for connecting this classic ‘toon to the climate debate.
(2) Butler, Daniel Allen. Unsinkable: The Full Story of the RMS Titanic. (Da Capo Press, 1998). p. 58-59.
(3) Butler 137.