Climate Change Could Cost Us

by kespeland on September 14, 2009

Developing and developed nations could lose up to 12 percent of their GDP because of climate change. That’s the finding of a new report from consultancy McKinsey and Co., in cooperation with the European Union, nonprofit groups, and businesses. The report’s authors aimed to come up with new tools to help decision-makers quantify the risks of climate change, both now and 20 years into the future, based on a location’s “total climate risk.”  They found that:

“If current development trends continue to 2030, the locations studied will lose between 1 and 12 percent of GDP as a result of existing climate patterns, with low income populations such as small-scale farmers in India and Mali losing an even greater proportion of their income. Within the next 20 years, climate change could worsen this picture significantly: in the locations studied, a scenario of high climate change would increase today’s climate-related losses by up to 200 percent as soon as 2030…

…however, the cases found that a portfolio of cost-effective measures can be put together to address a large part of the identified risk. In principle, between 40 and 68 percent of the loss expected to 2030 in the case locations – under severe climate change scenarios – could be averted through adaptation measures whose economic benefits outweigh their costs – with even higher levels of prevention possible in highly targeted geographies. These measures include infrastructure improvements, such as strengthening buildings against storms or constructing reservoirs and wells to combat drought…”

In other climate change news…Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed an order (.pdf file) today establishing a department-wide approach to coordinating responses to climate change.

It’s no small order: the Department includes agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and Parks, and manages nearly a fifth of the nation’s land mass. The order creates eight regional climate change response centers, including one in the southeast, a climate change council, and promotes more research into carbon capture. It points to some likely climate change impacts to which the department’s agencies will have to respond: shrinking water resources, sea level rise, shifting animal migration patterns, and invasive species.

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