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Can We Afford the Future?
The Economics of a Warming World

By Frank Ackerman
Zed Books, 2009
(distributed in the U.S. by Palgrave Macmillan)

160 pages, paperback: $20.95
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"A progressive economist well-versed in the literature of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientists and scientific groups fearful of climate change impacts, Ackerman offers up a practical and useful response to those - and there will be many - saying it’s just too costly to take on climate change…Journalists serious about informing their audiences about the coming climate change debates should well have Ackerman’s book on their shelves."

—The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media
(full review here)

According to many scientists, climate change is a growing threat to life as we know it, requiring a large-scale, immediate response. According to many economists, climate change is a moderately important problem; the best policy is a slow, gradual start, to avoid spending too much. They can't both be right.

In this book, Frank Ackerman offers a refreshing look at the economics of climate change, explaining how the arbitrary assumptions of conventional theories get in the way of understanding this urgent problem. The benefits of climate protection are vital but priceless, and hence often devalued in cost-benefit calculations. Preparation for the most predictable outcomes of global warming is less important than protection against the growing risk of catastrophic change; massive investment in new, low carbon technologies and industries should be thought of as life insurance for the planet.

Ackerman makes an impassioned plea to construct a better economics, arguing that the solutions are affordable and the alternative is unthinkable. If we can't afford the future, what are we saving our money for?


The Status Quo is not an Option
Your Grandchildren’s Lives are Important
We Need to Buy Insurance for the Planet
Climate Damages are too Valuable to Have Prices
Some Costs are Better than Others
Hot, it’s Not:  Climate Economics According to Lomberg
Much Less Wrong:  The Stern Review vs its Critics
Climate, Equity and Development
What is to Be Done?

Praise for Can we Afford the Future?

“Frank Ackerman provides the much-needed ammunition for advocates of strong climate policy to debunk the conclusion that stabilizing our future climate is ‘too expensive.’”
Stephen H. Schneider, Stanford University

“This book is essential reading for anyone trying to understand the major economic debates around the major new long-term change of our times – global warming.  Frank Ackerman has done us all a great service with this very accessible critical survey of the varied and complicated issues involved.”
Jomo Kwame Sundaram, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development

“This is a clear, readable first book for the non-economist, to start understanding the economics around climate change, and the various differing arguments by economists…”
John Mashey (unsolicited customer review on

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