A no-net-cost global warming fight?

The news is trickling in: it’s possible to fight global warming without wrecking the economy; the savings might even outweigh the expenses.  A no-net-cost global warming fight is possible if we all get to work at it. There are costs, of course, but the evidence is growing that the benefits of decreasing global warming may outweigh them. It’s possible that the net costs may be zero to negative, making the global warming fight free or even a winner.

Here’s some of the evidence.  The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate has just released a report (The New Climate Economy) giving the big picture. The Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has written about that report and another from the International Monetary Fund with supporting material. A quick glance shows that the task of quickly reducing global warming is formidable — but doable. The doing part of it is what is crucial.

As I have written in the past, telework/telecommuting is one of the weapons to fight global warming. One of the primary elements of my research on telecommuting beginning in the 1970s has been on its ability to reduce car use overall. It’s simple: if you don’t get in your car you don’t burn fossil fuel, the main contributor to global warming. Each trip not taken is a step toward global cooling. This is why my original research focused on commuting; most commuters in the US drive their own cars (with no passengers) to and from work five days per week. Two-fifths of the US workforce comprises potential telecommuters. Furthermore there is additional mid-day work-related travel than can be replaced by modern information technology.

I and my fellow researchers have shown repeatedly that telecommuting saves money both for the telecommuters and their employers; the benefits of telecommuting—and telework in general—significantly outweigh the costs. Check JALA’s online cost-benefit analysis to see for yourself. For long-distance teleworkers the net savings are likely to be higher than the basic analysis shows.

So the issue seems to be pretty clear: each of us information workers can do our bit to reduce global warming while saving some hard-earned cash in the process.

What’s not to like?

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