Costs of ignoring global warming far steeper than taking action

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In sharp contrast to denier’s claims that action against global warming will trigger economic catastrophe, a new study has concluded it would actually be cheaper to cut greenhouse-gas emissions than to suffer the consequences of a changing world.

In fact, the report by economists at Tufts University warns, “The longer we wait, the more painful and expensive the consequences will be.”

Entitled “What We’ll Pay if Global Warming Continues Unchecked,” the study found that by 2100, annual costs in today’s dollars would be $422 billion in hurricane damage, $360 billion in real estate losses (with the biggest risk on the Atlantic and gulf coasts, particularly Florida), $141 billion in increased energy costs and $950 billion in water costs, especially in the West.

Average temperature will increase by 13 degrees in most of the U.S. in the next 100 years, bringing more severe heat waves, hurricanes and droughts. The report also forecasts stronger hurricanes as a result of higher sea surface temperatures, sea level increases of 23 inches by 2050 and 45 inches by 2100 that would inundate low-lying coastal areas, and higher air-conditioning bills in the Southeast and Southwest that wouldn’t be offset by lower heating bills in the North.

Frank Ackerman, an economist at Tufts and one of the study’s main authors, said the impact of climate change actually would be worse than his numbers showed “because of the human lives and ecosystems that will be lost and species that will be driven into extinction – all these things transcend monetary values.”

The study comes as the Senate prepares to consider legislation next month aimed at reducing U.S. emissions by about 66% from 1990 levels by 2050. Let’s hope they read it.

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