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Idea of the Day: The Effects of a Melting Arctic on the Global Economy

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[Climate change in the Arctic] is one of the most obvious shared challenges on the face of the planet today … Today, as Secretary of State, I come here keenly aware that the long list of [Arctic] challenges—acidification, pollution, ice melt, rising sea levels, disappearing species, and indiscriminate development practices—all of these carry even more challenges downstream, so to speak, to each of our economies, to our national security, and to international stability.

– U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Arctic Council Ministerial Session, Kiruna, Sweden, May 15, 2013

Normally shy in policy debates, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS, released a new report warning Americans that “We are at risk of pushing our climate system toward abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes with highly damaging impacts.” In addition to putting policymakers and the public on sharp notice of the consequences of climate change, the report makes clear that “the sooner we act, the lower the risk and cost. And there is much we can do.” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry came to this same conclusion well before the AAAS report release, dating back to his days in the U.S. Senate, where he was an outspoken advocate of U.S. legislation to limit carbon pollution and strong international climate action. More recently, on March 7, Secretary Kerry called on diplomats around the world to make tackling climate change a top priority. In his first Policy Guidance as secretary of state, Kerry directed ambassadors to lock in a new global climate treaty by 2015, expand multilateral and bilateral climate change partnerships, and mobilize resources to promote clean energy, halt deforestation, and increase community resilience.

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This is part of a regular column: Idea of the Day

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