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Money men tally cost of climate change

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 24, 2014 at 1:05 pm •  Published: June 24, 2014
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— The Southeast will likely be affected both by sea-level rise and extreme temperatures. The region, which has averaged eight days of temperatures over 95 degrees each year, will likely see an additional 17 to 52 of these days by midcentury and up to four months of them by the end of the century. This could lead to 11,000 to 36,000 additional deaths per year.

— Higher temperatures will reduce Midwest crop yields by 19 percent by midcentury and by 63 percent by the end of the century.

— The Southwest will see an extra month of temperatures above 95 degrees by 2050, which will lead to more frequent droughts and wildfires.

The report does not calculate the cost of these droughts or wildfires, or many other possible costs such as the loss of unique ecosystems and species and the possible compounding effects of extreme weather conditions. Nor does it calculate some of the ways economies could adapt to the changing climate and reduce the costs of climate change.

"There's a whole litany of things not calculated in the assessment," said Gary Yohe, an economics and environmental studies professor at Wesleyan University and vice chair of the National Climate Assessment, a U.S. government project set up to study the effects of climate change. Yohe was not part of the Risky Business Project report, but he was asked to review it.

Still, he said, "The general conclusions are right on the money."

He also said that while other groups have also attempted to calculate the financial impacts of climate change around the world, this report is notable because of the business and financial experience of the people behind it. Beyond the three co-chairs, the members of the group's risk committee include Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, former Cargill CEO Gregory Page, and George Shultz, former treasury secretary and secretary of state.

"These are people who have managed risk all their lives and have made an enormous amount of money doing so," Yohe said.

Jonathan Fahey can be reached at http://twitter.com/JonathanFahey .