Tuesday, November 18, 2014

National Journal Warns The Economic Price Of Climate Change Is Already Here, And Growing


By Jeff Spross on Feb 9, 2013

National Journal’s Coral Davenport has written a wide-ranging new piece laying out the myriad ways climate change, driven by human carbon emissions, is threatening the American economy. The point is backed up by myriad scientific reports: The draft of the upcoming Fifth Assessment report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change determined that, by more than a 95 percent probability, human activities are to blame over half the observed increase in the global average surface temperature since the 1950s.

The draft of the Federal Advisory Committee’s Climate Assessment Report concluded that most of the United States is in for 9 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit of warming given the current path carbon emissions are following, with with ever-worsening extreme weather, sea-level rise, heat waves, deluges, droughts, storms, flooding, and ocean acidification as the result.


Globally, extreme weather and climate change are already shaving 1.6 percent off worldwide gross domestic product — or about $1.2 trillion per year — according to a study by DARA. By 2030, it will be up 3.2 percent of global GDP, costing the United States over 2 percent of its GDP and India over 5 percent.

In the U.S. specifically, the heat waves and droughts that continue to sweep through Texas, Oklahoma and the Midwest have driven crop yields down a food prices up, resulting in record payouts for crop-insurance claims. Davenport cites a 2011 study by the consulting firm Mercer that warned climate change could increase investment-portfolio risk by 10 percent over the next two decades, by disrupting supply chains.

The country is suffering larger and more frequent wildfires, storms are damaging infrastructure and causing power outages and fuel-price spikes, and relief aid for Superstorm Sandy alone cost the federal government over $60 billion:

2011 and 2012 were the two most extreme years on record for destructive weather events. A record 14 weather disasters occurred in 2011, sustaining more than $1 billion each in economic losses for a total of $60.6 billion. Last year brought 11 weather disasters that each cost $1 billion or more; while the total economic loss has not been determined, experts say the dollar figure is almost certain to exceed 2011’s. Meanwhile, the insurance industry estimates that its losses from 2012’s natural disasters will total $58 billion—more than double the average yearly losses of $27 billion from 2000 to 2011.


The Earth’s oceans naturally absorb carbon dioxide, so as human carbon-emitting activities have increased carbon levels in the oceans have increased dramatically. That leads to more acidic water, threatening marine ecosystems around the globe as well as the various industries that depend on them. Davenport’s microcosm for this crisis is the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery in Oregon, which saw its oyster larvae production collapse from 7 to 10 billion down to 2.5 billion in 2008, part of an oyster crash that hit both U.S. coasts. But the ocean acidification problem reaches across the planet:


As precipitation becomes less reliable, snow packs melt earlier, river flows drop and glaciers continue to recede, fresh water is becoming harder and harder to come by both in American and around the globe, threatening both economic and political instability.


We already have evidence that, due to global warming, sea levels may be rising up to 60 percent faster than predicted in the IPCC’s report, and the United States may already be in for an ultimate increase (many centuries from now) of 69 feet. In line with that finding, Davenport also points out a 2012 study by the U.S. Geological Survey, which found that sea levels along the East Coast will rise 3 to 4 times faster than the global average. “Over the past century, the planet’s sea levels have risen about 8 inches,” she reports. “Globally, scientists now project sea levels to rise another 1 to 4 feet by the end of this century.”


No comments:

Post a Comment