Climate change has already begun to cost us, and it’s only going to get worse.
New Orleans shortly after Katrina. Image: National Archives
Climate change has already begun to cost us, and it's only going to get worse.
Hurricanes, intensified in size and frequency by climate change, are taking a massive financial toll already, according to a new paper. The study, published in Nature Geoscience this week, found that an increase in property dollar amounts lost over the past several decades in a case study was due to hurricanes intensified by global warming.
Conducted by researchers from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma in Mexico and VU University in the Netherlands, the researched used statistical models to estimate the economic losses from storms from 1900 to 2005, taking into account societal change and wealth gains over the years. The findings suggest that between 2 and 12 percent of losses during the year 2005, the year Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, could be attributed to global warming.
"We estimate that, in 2005, $2 to $14 billion of the recorded annual losses could be attributable to climate change," the researchers write.
The researchers say that the impact of megastorms "cannot be dismissed" when predicting the future costs of climate change.
Interestingly, the research came out just as another similar paper was making headlines. The study, published in the journal Nature, found that climate change could cause 10 times as much damage to the world's economy than we thought, decreasing output by as much as 23 percent by 2100.
This isn't the first time someone suggested that climate change could come with a hefty cost. While there's lots of debate among economic forecasters about exactly how climate change will play out in dollar signs, most agree that climate change will hit our wallets in more ways that just storm damage.
Coffee, for instance, is expected to take major hits from worsening climate change. Because the crop is so particularly suited to certain climates, it's difficult for coffee beans to weather fluctuating temperatures. Between 2002 and 2011, Indian coffee production alone declined by nearly 30 percent, while Brazil is expecting a 25 percent drop in its arabica production by 2050. Other crops like corn, blueberries, tomatoes and even marijuana are all expected to be impacted by climate change.
One study found that on small islands, tourism would be negatively affected by climate change, while another reported that the economic impacts of climate change on coastal areas would be overwhelmingly negative.
What's more, one study even found that the cost of not acting on climate change now, a scenario described as business-as-usual, could cost a staggering $44 trillion globally.