You can bet your bottom dollar that if there were actuary tables equating the cost of pollution to medical insurrance costs and/or the ability to perpetuate an ongoing cycle of full motrgage payers and/or the ability to complete the terms of credit card debt - The relative costs of global warming would all of a sudden change in the popular press.
That said, I think that the collective "we" are going to undergo some consumer culture change. For example, back when Amleda Marcos left her country, the tabloids were abuzz about her 200 pairs of shoes and her oppulant life style. Granted, I doubt is she had any $10-$25, Payless or Wal-Mart shoes in her collection. We do not have cable but in the past couple of years or so, we have gotten the show "Sex in the City" with its steady stream of consumerism. If one were to watch this show for very long, the concept of having 200 pairs of shoes to shod a single pair of feet would no longer be at all odd let alone abberant. Of course, to be able to pay for our volume of "things" that we drape on our bodies, on our walls, on our furniture, in our yards, and so on... We've had to rely on credit and go to increasingly, lesser costing items. In turn, we've created a culture of decreasing costs and replaceable fixtures in our business worlds as well; of course "labor" is but one of many reasources.
I suspect that the collective "we" consumers are entering a period of more considered purchasing as opposed to impulse purchasing. As we begin to make more conscious purchasing decisions we will begin to think more about the environmental and economic systems that produced and delivered our purchases to our door steps too. I suspect that we will be looking at products more in terms of cost per use, longetivity, and more as well.
Likewise, I think that as "we" the consumer start to think more about our purchases, "we" the business world will be taking additional looks at our processes, supplies, materials, resource allocations, and products. A number of things that assist in reducing global warming and promote healthy environments also save money in the daily operations of the business world. Many small and medium businesses are already discovering this and beginning to change. These changes are often not enough to make numerically visable changes in an area. But, like cutting costs or making individual "green" contributions at the household level, the benefits are not readily recognizable until you consider or calculate the alternative(s). While hard to "count", they do add up.
Big changes are and will cost more. In part, how the regulation we already have is assessed and interpreted helps to define the "cost of combatting climate change". Additional regulation and/or deregulation may also help to change the perspecitive on the cost of combatting global climate change. For example, the whole process of running liquid hazardous waste down a sink drain is the cheapest disposal method when considering direct cash flow; unless the sink blows up and you "get stuck" with some sort of L&I claim and plumbing repairs. Properly gathering, storing, and then disposing of the same chemical sits in the middle. Addressing regulators and paying for attorney fees, going through additional inspections and follow-up, paying daily fines, and then developing a proper handling and disposal system, is the most expensive route. I think that we may finially be concluding that maybe business in today's business climate is not capable of ethical self-regulation; it can't even manage sustainability for itself as a business entity in the ledgers.
In terms of immediate cost, it depends upon what immediate savings can be found at the same time. This may mean that the collective we, both households and business, may need to address the Reduce, Reuse, and Repurpose aspects of our processes and purchases then return those savings as investments to our processes rather than consume and spend those savings on additional extras. Speaking as a low income worker-bee, it would seem as if some of those bonuses and compensation packages given to the biggies would go a long way to putting scrubbers on smoke stacks, buying a few paper recycle bins on wheels for the offices, and more. Just as we "small fry" have little or no need for 20 to 200 pairs of shoes when our credit card debt is about to make us homeless, I'm not so sure that there are not some bigger dollars available within the business budgets for spending on global warming and/or environmental issues; and no, club memberships and green's fees to keep the golf courses "fertilizer and water" green is not what I'm thinking.
Many of us as individuals are being forced to address our reasource allocations; others of us are beginning to do so wit more choice. A number of businesses are being forced to do the same. According to some news report I just heard, even luxury shoe buyers have been more conservative with their sh