A Tale of Risk and Calculus on the Front Lines of the Disrupted Global Economy
"Can keepers of the fossil flames ever be persuaded that we're all imperiled if we don't de-carbonize? Is it delusional to imagine building monetary bridges to a cleaner future, so that civilization—at least the civil parts of it, including everyone's job—might survive if we did? Is any government actually still in charge, as we face what's surely humanity's greatest challenge? We can be grateful that Mark Schapiro has navigated some dreaded territory—the arcana of global finance—to show with blessed clarity exactly where we are so far, what's failed and why, what might work, and where surprising hope lies."
—Alan Weisman, author of Gaviotas, The World Without Us, and Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth?
How Carbon Is Changing the Cost of Everything
Journalist Mark Schapiro’s multi-year investigation into the economic disruption caused by climate change, delves deep into a new kind of chaos—one where carbon, the stand-in for all greenhouse gases, rules.
At the heart of that disruption, questions swirl around how to establish a price for carbon. To find answers, Schapiro deftly explores the key axis points of economic change, records the shifting economic and political powers, unveils new understandings of financial risk, and shows readers the costs of carbon in their everyday lives.
In the drought-ridden farmland of California, higher temperatures are driving up the price of the food we eat, the prices farmers pay for crop insurance, and the impact on taxpayers, who cover their losses. In the jungles of Brazil, foreign polluters are paying to keep “offset” trees standing at a fraction of the cost they are worth to nearby, struggling communities. In Guangzhou, the world’s greatest manufacturing center, Schapiro asks who should pay for the pollution—Chinese producers or Western consumers?
Schapiro also directs our attention skyward, where efforts to put a price tag on the carbon left by airplanes have created a quiet but powerful global trade war, and to the carbon-trading capital of Europe, where economists try to establish a price for a bizarre new commodity—a ton of carbon that will not be emitted.
These are the potent stories behind the headlines. For almost two decades, global climate talks have focused on how to make polluters pay for the carbon they emit and yet, as Carbon Shock reveals, it remains an unfolding financial mystery: What are the costs? Who will pay for them? Who do you pay? How do you pay? And what are the potential impacts?
The answers to these questions, and more, are crucial to understanding how the turmoil in the atmosphere is shifting the economic ground beneath our feet.