The economics of climate change – the case of Florida

The Global Development & Environment Institute at Tufts University has released a report on the consequences of unchecked greenhouse gas emissons for Florida. You can find it here.

They estimate that the costs of unchecked climate change – on just three sectors: tourism, electric utilities, and real estate – together with effects of hurricanes would shrink Florida’s Gross State Product by 5% by the end of this century. Obviously, as the authors point out, if costs for other sectors (e.g. agriculture, fisheries, insurances, transportation, and water systems) were included, the costs would be much higher. And, of course, there would be huge non-monetary costs of environmental destruction and human lives lost. It is grim reading.

Consider this, too: Florida won’t be the only place facing major economic, social, and no doubt political disruption. This will be happening all over the world, in differing degrees and forms. It seems a reasonable bet that there will be large multiplier (or ‘knock-on’) economic costs.

Then there are the ‘tipping point’ risks: scientists are now telling us that Earth’s climate could change quite rapidly (and there is evidence of it having done so in the past). We don’t know what that tipping point is, exactly, and in pumping out greenhouse gases, we are conducting a gigantic, dangerous, global climate experiment.

If we add these three things: first round costs, knock-on costs, and risks, plus a reasonable consideration of the non-monetary costs, it is obvious that we ought to be putting large-scale resources and efforts into efforts to reduce emissions.

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