Adjusting to Greenhouse Effects: The Demise of Traditional Cultures and the Cost to the USA

Date of Original Version




Abstract or Description

Greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and other trace gases, are likely to cause significant climate changes in the next century, and greater environmental changes in subsequent periods.('") We examine these changes and the ways in which they will challenge, stress, and even destroy aspects of the natural and human environment. Preventing major climate change is essentially impossible because of the time needed to curtail emissions of greenhouse gases.(') Rather than trying to accomplish an unfeasible goal, efforts should be aimed at preventing still larger emissions with their potentially catastrophic effects. The greater social challenge will be to adapt to the new climate regime and learn to mitigate potentially harmful consequences. As discussed below, this mitigation is likely to be easier and quicker in rich countries than in poor ones, particularly in poor countries with traditional, nonmarket economies.




Published In

Risk Analysis , 9, 3, 283-291.