October 8, 2006
Global Warming - High Stakes High Costs
By: Rowan Wolf
The price tag to cap global warming emissions? According to PriceWaterhouseCoopers the answer is $1,000,000,000,000. The cost of not capping and decreasing emissions? Massive death and devastation.
Global temperatures have reached the highest level in at least the last 12,000 years. If we stay on this path, the temperatures will likely prove a shock.
Emily Ashton of the Independent writes that "temperatures in the South-East of England soaring as high as 46C (114.8F) by the end of the century." Britain and Europe will not be alone. Boston might see the number of days of 90 degree plus heat rise from 1 per year to 40, and New York City's days in that category could jump to 70 per year (Washington Post based on UCS report "Migrating Climates").
The lives of millions are threatened as on third of the planet turns to desert (report from The Hadley Centre). This is reinforced by reports from the World Wildlife fund (see links below) and others.
The World Wildlife Fund has perhaps the best summation of the impacts of temperature increases in Climate Change: Why we need to take action now.
I have reproduced the table below from that report.
|2°C Climate Impacts||3°C Climate Impacts|
|Human Health||•90-200 million more people at risk of malaria and other vector-and water-borne diseases with increased rates of diarrheal disease and malnutrition in low-income countries2•||•300+ million more
people at risk to malariaglobally6,7
•5-6 billion more people at risk to dengue and human health is threatened due to water stress and flooding especially in Africa and south Asia5
|Agriculture||•Increased hunger in places such as sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia due to a decline in agricultural production •Increased disparities and increased conflicts2 due to the effects of water scarcity and less predictable harvests||•50-120 million more people at risk of hunger, agriculture will be negatively impacted, and food prices will increase globally|
|Water||•662 million to 3 billion more people at risk
of water shortage4
•Global water shortages and increased soil moisture stress, resulting in greater intensification of land use and desertification2
|•3.1-3.5 billion additional persons at risk of
water shortages with potential migration because of drought, leading to
socioeconomic and political instability2,3,4
•High risk of drought for southern Europe, West Africa, Central America, the Middle East, and parts of North America, Amazonia, and China
|Ice & Glaciers||Glaciers•60% loss of summer sea ice in the
•Complete and irreversible melting of the Greenland ice with 1.5°C warming4
•25% or more decrease of the Antarctic sea-ice volume and continued retreating sea ice for about 2 degrees of latitude2
|•Near complete loss of summer sea ice in the
•Complete loss of the Greenland ice sheet and the Antarctic ice shelves with a 3°C warming over several centuries2
|Ecosystems||•95% loss of most coral by mid-century with
adverse impacts to subsistence and commercial fishing, and coastal
protection2 and economic loss (at Australia’s Great Barrier
Reef alone is estimated to be AU$4.3 billion/ per year8 and reefs
worldwide are expected to see similar effects).
•43%risk of change in global forest to nonforest systems, expansion of forests into the Arctic and semiarid savannas
•Risk of permanent shift of terrestrial carbon sinks to carbon sources in key tropical areas such as the Amazon and in Arctic areas that are permafrost dominated3,4
•Substantial damage and disruption to arctic and montane ecosystems, and a major proportion of the tundra and about half of boreal forest area may disappear3
•80% loss of South African Karoo,50% loss of Kakadu(Australia) and the Sundarbans(Bangladesh) wetlands4
•~25% of species loss from current range1
|•Little hope of recovery and annual bleaching
of the remaining coral3
•88%risk of change in global forest to nonforest systems, risks of forest losses in parts of Eurasia, Amazonia, and Canada, potential loss of forests in parts of the southern boreal zone, eastern China, Central America, Amazonia, and the Gulf Coast of the U.S.3
•Much higher risk of permanent shift of terrestrial carbon sinks to carbon sources and irreversible damage to the Amazon forest leading to its collapse3
•50% loss of wetlands in Mediterranean, Baltic, and several migratory bird habitats in the U.S.4 •Massive loss and potential extinction of ice-dependent species including polar bears and many species in Mexico and South Africa
•~33% of species loss from current range1
|Sea-Level Rise||•25-50 million people at risk due to sea-level rise and coastal flooding, costing nations 100’s of billions of dollars2||•180 million people at risk of coastal flooding due to sea-level rise and water stress, causing hundreds of thousands to have to migrate to other regions or countries2|
|Extreme Weather||•Increase in the frequency and intensity of floods, droughts, storms, heat waves, tropical cyclones, hurricanes, and other extreme events, driving economic costs up and likely decrease development opportunities2||•Massive increases in the frequency and
intensity of fire, drought, storms, and heat waves
•Socio-economic losses from global damages range from 3-5%of GDP for developing countries and a global average of 1-2%for 2.5-3°C warming4
PriceWaterhouseCoopers. 2006. The World in 2050
PriceWaterhouseCoopers. 2006. The World in 2050: Impact of global growth on carbon emissions and climate change policy
PriceWaterhouseCoopers. 2006. The World in 2050: How big will the major emerging market economies get and how can the OECD compete?
Union of Concerned Scientists. 2006. Great Lake Communities and Ecosystems at Risk
Union of Concerned Scientists. 2006. Migrating Climates
BBC. 10/04/06. Climate inaction 'has high cost'
World Wildlife Fund. Climate Change: Why we need to take action now
World Wildlife Fund. 10/03/06. Stern Review sets out economic imperative of climate change
Posted by Rowan at October 8, 2006 9:50 AM Category: Global Warming