Welcome to By 2100!

This Blog is designed to be a Diary of Events illustrating Global Climate Change, and where it will lead.

Commentary is encouraged, but this Blog is not intended for discussion on the Validity of Climate Change.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Arctic Melt to Cost up to $24 Trillion by 2050

WASHINGTON  Fri Feb 5, 2010 6:08pm EST (Reuters)

 Arctic ice melting could cost global agriculture, real estate and insurance anywhere from $2.4 trillion to $24 trillion by 2050 in damage from rising sea levels, floods and heat waves, according to a report released on Friday.

"Everybody around the world is going to bear these costs," said Eban Goodstein, a resource economist at Bard College in New York state who co-authored the report, called "Arctic Treasure, Global Assets Melting Away." He said the report, reviewed by more than a dozen scientists and economists and funded by the Pew Environment Group, an arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts, provides a first attempt to monetize the cost of the loss of one of the world's great weather makers.

"The Arctic is the planet's air conditioner and it's starting to break down," he said.

The loss of Arctic Sea ice and snow cover is already costing the world about $61 billion to $371 billion annually from costs associated with heat waves, flooding and other factors, the report said. The losses could grow as a warmer Arctic unlocks vast stores of methane in the permafrost. The gas has about 21 times the global warming impact of carbon dioxide.

Melting of Arctic sea ice is already triggering a feedback of more warming as dark water revealed by the receding ice absorbs more of the sun's energy, he said. That could lead to more melting of glaciers on land and raise global sea levels.

While much of Europe and the United States has suffered heavy snowstorms and unusually low temperatures this winter, evidence has built that the Arctic is at risk from warming. Greenhouse gases generated by tailpipes and smokestacks have pushed Arctic temperatures in the last decade to the highest levels in at least 2,000 years, reversing a natural cooling trend, an international team of researchers reported in the journal Science in September.

Goodstein's study did not look at worst-case scenarios Arctic melting could have, such as warmer temperatures that trigger massive releases of crystallized methane formations in Arctic soils and ocean beds known as methane hydrates. It also did not look at sea ice erosion troubling people in the Arctic.


  1. This is interesting, but again, looking at GCC in monetary terms is futile in the whole. While economists see a lost crop or inundated delta land, they exercise the tunnel vision common to any specific scientific discipline. The economist sees the value of lost corn, for example, while the sociologist in the next office sees an encroaching famine. The historian recognizes the scenario of human famine as the hotbed of war. The techo-science visionary envisions a nuclear winter.

    Of course, that's over-simplification and somewhat dramatic, but the problem with understanding GCC has always been our inability to connect the dots of our predictions and observations. On the other piece that was posted today, Bruce quotes a scientific team who unveil the possibility of an ice-free arctic within 3 years rather than 90, as was so very recently believed. I feel that even this dire suggestion fails in it's severity as it, too, fails to connect the dots. This type of systemic change, affecting the entire arctic ecosystem, will undoubtedly have repercussions far beyond the arctic. Once again, the prognosis overlooks the almost certain results of related effects, which may be catastrophic of themselves, and even have a feedback to the arctic situation.

    All models have the similar weakness of failing to understand and predict 'cascading' events, which will give vastly larger and faster occurring results. Rather, we have tended to look at a natural and unstable mechanism with static parameters. Warming permafrost releases polar methanes, and then the global atmosphere warms faster. Melting ice uncovers dark water which warms faster and melts more ice. Melting glacial ice raises sea levels which encourage yet faster melting and exposure of the remaining glaciers. I think we are only beginning to realize the interconnectiveness of such vast systems.

    Of course, the ultimate pessimism in this is the fallacy of the argument demonstrating species' adaption to environmental changes. With static, slower climate change, we see corresponding adaptation in forest and plant modifications, insect life cycles, wildlife migrations, and other 'natural' ecosystem occurrences. However, when we speed up the rate and severity of system change, we find that rather than adaption, we often find a crash and recovery situation. These have been common throughout our last century; birds not able to adapt to the introduction of DDT, for example, or the current crashing of overfished ocean stocks.

    Of course, the most environmentally adaptable creature has been our own species. Humans have and do, live in all extremes of the earth, with the exception of the very deep ocean and geothermal interfaces. Yet, we too, are natural animals; our successes have been the understanding and adaption to the world about us. With the ever-faster effects of GCC, one has to wonder how we will fare, should we not be able to adapt to the changes in the earth, the water, and the air that makes our lives possible?

  2. Lon, judging by how fast humans are accepting the idea that Climate Change is our fault, and we CAN and MUST do something about it, I'd say we're not quite as adapatable as we'd like to think.

    I find it absolutely amazing that, even as the evidence piles up faster and faster, and alternate solutions are shot down more and more thoroughly, the Denial industry ratches up its rhetoric at an even faster rate.

    They jump on every little mistake, every poorly worded email, every new discovery that can be taken as even a small creator of doubt, and blow it up to gigantic proportions.

    Worse, they seem to be winning.

    Polling numbers in the US show disbelievers growing in numbers, but the US always has been a hotbed of delialism.

    A much bigger concern is that the same trends are appearing in many other countries.

    I cannot believe that Australia and the Netherlands, two countries on the verge of total anhiliation by GCC, have some of the strongest deniers of anywhere on the planet!

  3. Lon, I find your point that the various problems of GCC are not being interlinked valid.

    But it's hard to imagine how a huge article linking it all could possibly be accepted, considering that even small reports are dissed as "alarmism".



Our Climate is Changing!
Please download Flash Player.