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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.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Arctic Melt To Cost Up To $24 Trillion By 2050

Reuters  Date: 05-Mar-10  By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON - 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.

Arctic emissions of methane have jumped 30 percent in recent years, scientists said last month.

Thin ice over the Arctic Sea this winter could mean a powerful ice-melt next summer, a top U.S. climate scientist said this week. And early findings from a major research project in Canada involving more than 370 scientists from 27 countries showed on Friday that climate change is transforming the Arctic environment faster than expected and accelerating the disappearance of sea ice.

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.

Ohh good - $24 Trillion, and they missed the worst danger yet...


  1. Somehow, I still think that the cost involved in dollars, will not be a great issue for those of us who may still be alive in 2050 (I probably won't be, simply because of my age now). Looking at GCC as an economic disaster is like seeing someone bleeding to death on the sidewalk and worrying that his shirt will be ruined.

  2. Probably true, Lon.

    But at this point, it's been my experience that 80% of Deniers are not really concerned about the science for or against, it's the dollars it will take to stop AGW.

    I think these people need to be aware of the dollars it will take if we DON'T stop AGW.

  3. Bruce, I believe I've mentioned to you before that my favorite historian, T.R. Fehrenbach, coined the term, 'homo economicus', meaning that in the end, all things done by men are guided by economy. In that sense, I guess profit drives about all elements of our society, both for good or for evil ...or for blunders. Modern economists are really social scientists, I suppose, since every effort and every resource can be given a value. I tend to leap to consequences - a lost corn crop = a famine and the resulting deaths of young and old members of the community. I know I oversimplify, but I still sigh when I read that GCC may cost the jobs of fishermen or farmers. That equates to me as something more than dollars and cents. It's like my old rant about the plight of the poor polar bears; when the salt water is knee deep in the parlor, you ain't gonna worry about no damn polar bears!

    But, of course you're right about the deniers such as the 'clean coal' coalition. They seem content to lie, even at the possible cost of their own children.



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