The Economic Effects of Global Warming
Abstract: While it is fairly well-established that human activity plays at least some role in global warming, the extent to which human activity (as opposed to natural changes in climate) plays such a causative role is not entirely clear. Much more importantly, it is not entirely clear precisely how much humans can do to remediate the effects of global warming. If the assumption that human activity plays a significant role in global warming is held, the question becomes one of cost-benefit analysis – how much remediation can be carried out before the cost of such measures exceeds the cost of global warming?
The Economic Effects of Global Warming
The first inkling of an idea that the world might be getting warmer began in 1938, when an address was delivered to the Royal Meteorological Society. In it, Guy Callendar presented the claim that the average temperature of the world had risen by 0.3 degrees over the past half-century. He suggested that the increased temperature was due to increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, which had come about because of greatly increased use of coal. At the time, there was no way for him to present anything more than suggestive findings, and so little action was taken. (Tol, 2014)
Several decades later, by the second decade of the 21st century, the belief in climate change was much-better entrenched. In 2013, the International Panel on Climate Change released its 5th report, in which it reported that climate change is a real and on-going phenomenon, and that, if left unchecked, it is likely to cause a number of negative environmental consequences. (Tol, 2014) The Effects of Global Warming On Weather
Global warming will likely increase the occurrence of extreme weather. Many of these events, such as droughts, floods, and severe storms, already occur. However, it is likely that global warming will make them more frequent and more severe. (Stern, 2007)
These effects are already in evidence in a number of places. For instance, the Indian subcontinent has a long history of floods that occur very often, but which are not very severe. However, both the frequency and the severity of floods have increased in recent years, and the typical monsoon has brought about 30% more rain than before. Such effects have also been seen in eastern Africa, where droughts have become more and more frequent, and rivers have dried up which formerly did not go dry. (Stern, 2007).
Severe weather events such as these, and the broader incidence of increasingly unpredictable weather, has a number of effects on the economy of affected areas. In particular, agriculture and water supplies have been negatively affected. Additionally, the economies of these areas, their educational and healthcare systems, and the habitability of their environments have been negatively affected. Communities which live in areas affected by climate change have found themselves in very precarious conditions. (Hallegatte, Hourcade, and Dumas, 2007) Economic Effects of Global Warming
One of the most severe, and most likely, effects of global warming is that farming in many regions of the world will be disrupted. Global warming will cause an increased incidence of droughts, flash floods, and will also cause sea levels to rise. Additionally, it will cause increased temperatures. All of these occurrences will radically alter the agricultural environment, and will likely cause a large number of people to be displaced. In many regions of the world, a sea rise as small as half a meter would likely cause a substantial portion of the population to be displaced and would also likely cause large losses in agricultural lands. Such a change would have obvious implications for agriculture, as well as for the economy more generally. (Obrien and Leichenko, 2000; Stern, 2007) What Is The Best Way Forward?
Human beings are driven by incentives. This does...