Article image

Southern, midwestern economies to suffer most from climate change

Each 1 degree Celsius increase in temperature from climate change will lower the U.S. gross domestic product by 1.2 percent, according to a new study.

Locations in the south and midwest are at much higher risk of suffering economic damage, while areas in the Pacific Northwest and New England may experience a slight economic gain, the study said.

Losses are expected to be largest in regions that are already poorer, on average, than the rest of the country, increasing economic inequality, the study said. It is different from previous studies which suggested the country would benefit or lose as a single entity. The new study captures the regional differences.

Solomon Hsiang of University of California Berkeley and his colleagues developed a model that integrated data capturing the effects of short-term weather fluctuations between 1981 and 2010 on six key economic factors, such as agriculture yield and labor supply.

They used these data to construct estimates of future economic impacts based on climate change projections under a “business-as-usual” approach (one in which fossil fuels continue to be used intensively). Unsurprisingly, Atlantic coast counties are expected to suffer the largest losses from cyclone intensification and sea level rise, they report.

Both southern and midwestern populations are projected to suffer the largest losses, exceeding 20% of gross county product (GCP) in some instances, while some northern and western populations may actually see small economic gains – up to 10 percent of GC, the study found.

The model estimates that average yields in agriculture will decline by about 9 percent. Mortality rates will increase by about 5.4 deaths per 100,000, for each 1°C increase.

“We’ve shown which U.S. regional economies are particularly vulnerable, which will help policymakers,” Hsiang said. “If we are going to adapt, we need to know where to focus.”

By: David Beasley, Staff Writer

Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Image Credit: Hsiang, Kopp, Jina, Rising, et al (2017).

News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day