Climate Change and the US Economy

Extreme weather events (such as storms and monsoons) are likely to increase damage costs since the frequency of their occurrence continue to rise due to climate change. The current situation is that more property and more lives are now at risk from major extreme weather events. The IPCC provides evidence that global insured and uninsured property losses currently amount to over $40 billion per annum compared to just $4 billion per annum about 50 years ago. Deaths associated with abnormally high summertime temperatures may well rise. By contrast, deaths may be reduced due to warming winters.

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Safe Drinking Water

Life loss and infirmity due to changes in safe drinking water availability are more likely to occur with future warming. Factors as higher temperatures and rising population growth bring about growing demand for water; will decrease the availability of clean and safe drinking water. Saline intrusion will affect freshwater supplies in some coastal areas, and water pollution can be expected to increase (IPCC). Animal and human diseases caused by water pollution pose additional costs to the economy.

Vector Borne Diseases

It is also widely held that vector-borne diseases will increase as regions warm up. Warmth is a factor in the transmission of these diseases, but a number of location-specific factors are more important. Research and treatment costs increments will be an extra burden to the economy.

Species Diversity

Global warming affects the ecosystem and hence changing the populations of species. The IPCC cites particular ecosystems at risk: glaciers, coral reefs and atolls, mangroves, boreal and tropical forests, polar and alpine ecosystems, prairie wetlands and remnant native grasslands. A case in point is the coral reefs where the evidence suggests that coral bleaching will increase as oceans become warmer, an effect already identified with El Nino events. Since the reefs consist of a rich marine biodiversity, the diversity of species is itself under threat. Wildlife earnings are likely to substantially decline. Marine food supplies are threatened. The common regional effects that are likely to pose global consequences include: lengthening of the dry season in Amazonia, destroying the balance of wet (long) and dry (short) seasons that maintain the Amazon rainforest.

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Crop Yield

Evidence suggests that some regions could gain from a warmer climate and the fact that higher levels of CO2 enhance crop growth. But some regions will lose because of changes in precipitation and higher temperatures. Several factors affect agricultural yields hence the IPCC concludes that it will be difficult to differentiate the impacts of mild climate change from the many other factors.