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Endangered EconomiesHow the Neglect of Nature Threatens Our Prosperity$
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Geoffrey Heal

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780231180849

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231180849.001.0001

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Climate Change—“The Greatest External Effect in Human History”

Climate Change—“The Greatest External Effect in Human History”

(p.31) 3 Climate Change—“The Greatest External Effect in Human History”
Endangered Economies

Geoffrey Heal

Columbia University Press

Scientists have been aware that certain gases trap heat since the early nineteenth century, and had reasonably precise estimates of their possible impact for over a century. Climate change has been described as the greatest external effect in history: it is an external cost imposed on everyone on earth by users of fossil fuels and certain other groups. Climate change is already having a wide range of profoundly harmful consequences for humans and for the natural world, causing droughts, floods, heat waves and food shortages and damaging ecosystems and threatening the vitality of many species.

Keywords:   climate change, greenhouse gases, fossil fuels, endangered species, extinction

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