Matthias Ruth, professor of public policy and civil and environmental engineering
Ruth, a leader in the emerging field of ecological economics, has shown that adopting proactive “green” policies is the most cost-effective way to sustain coastal cities against the long-term impact of climate change.
In a seminal study, “Climate’s Long-term Impacts on Metro Boston,” Ruth and his team found that the current “Ride-It-Out” approach to the floods, storms, and rising temperatures caused by climate change will cost more over time than implementing measures to reduce greenhouse gases and protect coastal areas from flooding.
The finding runs counter to the popular belief that policies supportive of environmental goals are always more expensive—a notion that has added weight when it comes to protecting complex urban environments.
But according to Ruth, that very complexity is the reason why environmental inaction will be more costly. A city is a system—interconnected networks of people and infrastructure—which multiplies the disruption caused by climate change.