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American Security Project: How Much Will Climate Change Cost Your State?

RP Siegel | Wednesday May 4th, 2011 | 7 Comments

The American Security Project ASP, a non-profit, bipartisan public policy and research organization, has recently issued a series of 50 reports entitled Pay Now or Pay Later: A State by State Assessment of the Impact of Climate Change. The series turns the classic argument that it costs too much to do anything to prevent or minimize the impact of climate change on its head by exploring the costs of inaction on a state by state basis.

The series begins with the premise that climate change is going to cost a lot whether we act on it or not, but it’s likely to cost a great deal more if we wait to act. The impacts will likely affect our economy, security, competitiveness and public health.


As Republican NJ Governor and former EPA head Christy Todd Whitman, a member of the ASP board, said, “Too often the debate about climate breaks down over cost, with many Americans rightfully concerned about what limiting pollution would do to our economy.  But what this series of reports shows is that there is a cost on the other side of the ledger, too.  There will be costs to our economic security from climate change—and significant ones at that—if we do nothing but continue business as usual.”

Some examples of the findings include:

  • Losses to Kentucky’s $9.3 billion timber industry due to drier seasons and more frequent fires
  • Severe storms impacting the 10 million people in Florida’s coastal communities
  • A potential $4 billion in shipping losses to Michigan due to reduced water levels in the Great Lakes which are projected to fall by 25%.
  • Midwestern states are projected to lose billions in revenue each year in agricultural revenues, due to increased temperature and rainfall
  • Loss of snowpack in the Northwest will lead to seasonal droughts and
  • Energy costs in the Southeast are projected to rise by $60 billion due to rising temperatures by 2100
  • NY could lose $122.9 billion in GDP and over 560,000 jobs by 2050.
  • California could face costs of $6-30 billion per year in the San Francisco area alone due to sea level rise projected at 20-55 inches over the next century.

Most of the impacts featured in any one particular state will likely impact all the other states to one degree or another. Compared to these potential costs, the costs of mitigation efforts such as the estimated $22 billion for a moderate cap and trade proposal, are meager indeed. They should be evaluated, not as burdens, but as investment opportunities with very large potential returns.

This type of argument could be persuasive for those willing to be rational about the subject and consider the broad and long term economic implications of the climate disruptions that we have unwittingly brought upon ourselves through our prodigious use of fossil fuels. On the other hand it will have little impact on those who care about nothing but themselves and their own amusements and distractions. I’m still trying to figure out which camp the majority of climate-deniers reside in.

RP Siegel, PE, is a writer and consultant on various aspects of sustainability. His most recent book is the novel, Vapor Trails, the first in a series co-authored with Fowler Center Director Roger Saillant. The book addresses issues around global warming and energy.

Follow RP Siegel on Twitter.


▼▼▼      7 Comments     ▼▼▼

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  • http://snoqualmieragingfallsfarm.blogspot.com Lilly L

    It is unfortunate that this group is focused on Natural gas fracking, Nuclear, and “clean coal”. It is the old guard who let us down initially on our Environmental protection
    imo

  • klem

    “The series turns the classic argument, that it costs too much to do anything to prevent or minimize the impact of climate change, on its head by exploring the costs of inaction on a state by state basis.”

    The cost of inaction on climate change is exactly the same cost as it would have been anyway. Now you people want us to pay additional money to fight climate change. So we now we will have the normal costs plus your wind turbine/solar panel costs and who knows whatever else you might throw in there. I’ll take my chances. You can go back to Russia.

  • David Bruce

    The numbers are staggering. However, just as the impact of Katrina had an INCREASE on our GDP, these costs will do the same. From that standpoint, the longer we wait, the more climate change will increase our GDP as we fruitlessly try to build higher and higher walls against the tide (as Japan tried in vain to do).

    Cynical as this sounds, the opponents to regulations against the threat of climate change are firmly planted in their beliefs and only incontrovertible evidence (like Nazi gas chambers) will convince them they are wrong. If it isn’t too late already, it will certainly be by then.

    So focusing on what we will need to do is very important at this time. It’s not just a scare tactic. It is a survival tactic.

    • klem

      “the longer we wait, the more climate change will increase our GDP..”

      You know I never thought of it that way, but you could be right. The less we do to fight AGW the more it will increase our GDP. Economists say that an increase in GDP is better than a decrease, so lets do nothing. It is the best thing to do for our economy. Thanks for this.

      You sure you’re not a closet climate denier?

      Cheers.

  • Barama Brown

    Republican factory owners killed your family and friends in the catastrophic blizzards, floods, tornadoes, massive wildfires and other climate change that has been wiping out the bible-belt. This is the Climate Change that their factories created. This is the Climate Change that the Republicans lie about not existing. This is the Climate Change that they program their constituents to deny exists. This is the Climate Change that killed people, destroyed homes, further destroyed the economy that the Republican factories emissions caused so they could make profits by killing those people. Republicans deny Climate Change at all costs in order to keep their factories from having to pay to stop it. The Climate Change that is destroying massive sections of our country can no longer be hidden or denied. The issue of Climate Change is TOTALLY ONLY about Republican factories which cause Climate Change getting charged to put filters on their factories. In the face of a staggering volume of FACTS proving that Climate Change is here, Republicans train their sheep-like followers to deny it always and to never read any of the facts.

    • Nick Aster

      I nominate this for wacky comment of the week :-)

      • klem

        Yup I’ll second that nomination.