As the reality of human-caused climate change has become harder to deny, opponents of climate action have adopted a new talking point. Replacing fossil fuels with clean energy, they say, would devastate the American economy, sending electricity prices through the roof, forcing people to abandon their cars and putting millions of people out of work.
There's one problem: Researchers who have studied the clean energy transition disagree. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions wouldn't have the dire economic consequences critics have predicted, several comprehensive studies have found. On the contrary, experts say, dramatic action to slash carbon emissions would be relatively inexpensive, if not a money-saver — and that's without accounting for the long-term benefits of avoiding catastrophic climate change.
Some people and communities would suffer, especially in regions whose economies are driven by fossil fuel development. Coal mine employment dropped from 91,600 in 2011 to 74,900 in 2014, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and that trend is expected to continue. About 180,000 Americans work in oil or natural gas extraction, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.