While policymakers fiddle on climate change, the threat of economic harm posed by rising sea levels, devastating storms and drought is growing every day, writes Coral Davenport.
A 2012 study by the Madrid-based group DARA found that extreme weather associated with climate change is costing the world economy $1.2tn a year, accounting for 1.6% of global gross domestic product. The study projects that the effects of climate change could cut global GDP by 3.2% a year by 2030.
In the United States, 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 $1bn each in economic losses for a total of $60.6bn.
Last year brought 11 weather disasters that each cost $1bn 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 $58bn—more than double the average yearly losses of $27bn from 2000 to 2011.
Despite all the evidence that climate change has started costing the US economy, businesses and taxpayers, and that much higher costs are to come, the congressional response has been to largely ignore the problem, except to pay for damages as they arise.
And while Congress authorised $61bn for Sandy relief, the House rejected amendments that would have required planning for the impact of sea-level rise due to climate change.
Full article: NationalJournal.com.