Description: cartoon1(9)Global Warming and its effect on the economy

 

Over the last ten years many Americans have witnessed are fair share of heat waves, tornadoes, devastating hurricanes, wildfires, and many other tragic events attributed to Mother Nature. In addition, America has not escaped the global recession with its rampant unemployment, high interest rates, declining businesses and rising outsourcing. As we all can see the issues of global warming and the fall of the economy are two pivotal points today faced by all Americans. Is there a connection between the two? In the next ten to thirty years, the two may have a direct connection. Will global warming cause the economy to fail further or allow it to recover? The very idea of global warming is a hotly contested topic seeing that it could be both advantageous and disadvantageous for people. On one hand, skeptics urge us to keep our cool. On the other hand humans may be running out of time and the options may be limited. Whether the outcome of global warming is positive or negative it needs to be addressed because of its potential enormous impact on the economy.

 

What is Global Warming?

 

Many people still do not understand Global warming and how it affects the earth. People that are aware of what global warming is believe that the environmental catastrophe will just affect our environment and that alone. Global warming will affect everyone and everything on the planet in one way or another. Global warming is the increase in the average temperature of Earth's near-surface air and oceans since the mid-20th century and its projected continuation. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2007), global surface temperature increased significantly more than usual during the 20th century. Most of the observed temperature increase since the middle of the 20th century has been caused by increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, which result from human activities such as the burning of fossil fuel and deforestation. “Between 1956-2005, the average earth's temperature rose .13°C per decade. This may not seem like much, but it was double the rate for the 100 years from 1906 to 2005. Temperatures in colder areas, like the Arctic, rose twice as fast as the average.” (IPCC 2007) Although global warming is affecting the number and magnitude of these events, it is difficult to connect specific events to global warming. Economic forecasts of the influence of climate change on human activity also differ considerably. Some predict that Text Box:  

people will benefit, from any such change while others view the possibility with great alarm. Former Vice President Gore imagines the direst of consequences.

 

Throughout his movie “an inconvenient truth”, Gore discusses the scientific opinion on climate change, as well as the present and future effects of global warming and stresses that climate change "is really not a political issue, so much as a moral one. Gore goes on to say "Each one of us is a cause of global warming, but each one of us can make choices to change that with the things we buy, the electricity we use, the cars we drive; we can make choices to bring our individual carbon emissions to zero. The solutions are in our hands, we just have to have the determination to make it happen. We have everything that we need to reduce carbon emissions, everything but political will. But in America, the will to act is a renewable resource.”(Gallo, 2007)Either way you look at global warming positive or negative, will cause a domino effect on everything.

 

How will global warming affect the economy in a positive light?

The effects of climate change will affect every aspect of the economy most notably agriculture, energy, and transportation will take huge hits from greenhouse gases. When asking how will global warming affect the economy, there are two different ways to look at this question. Most people who are not knowledgeable about the topic of global warming want to know how will global warming affect the economy in a negative way. Very few people realize that there are many benefits of global warming. Global warming could extend growing seasons, make the earth more livable, and slow down any future ice age. Many researchers have studied and documented the optimistic side of a warming world climate trend. Thomas Gale Moore, an economist at Stanford University’s is the author of Climate of fear: Why We Shouldn’t Worry about Global Warming, a book that describes the many ways that warmer weather helps human beings in all areas of life. And Moore is not alone in taking this view. Many researchers have discovered the gains that human society makes in warmer weather by studying its impact in various areas such as health, the economy, and agriculture. A warmer world would directly impact agricultural productivity, according to Moore. “Warmer weather means a longer growing season, and thus greater output. It would also result in greater rainfall, providing much-needed water for plants. The risk of crop failures would decrease with shorter, milder winters” (Moore, 1998). For example, Mid-Atlantic States agricultural yields are likely to benefit from slightly higher temperatures. (Ruth, 2006)  This will provide farmers a season with warmer weather, therefore giving them extended periods to grow and sell their crops.

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Warming climates are advantageous to other forms of human life as well. The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), a study prepared by the Arctic Council, found that a warmer Arctic would have more available resources. By reducing the polar ice caps, Arctic warming opens up resources that were trapped by ice to human exploration and the transportation industry also benefits from warmer weather. Heavy rain and snow during the winter interrupt both ground and air transportation, resulting in costly delays and harmful conditions. The ACIA has also found that reduced ice caps would open up sea routes through the arctic. Currently, many freighters must take the Panama Canal to reach the other side of North America. (The ones that cannot fit in the canal must go around South America!) A shorter route through the Arctic would cause shipping costs to drop drastically, benefiting a number of industries that depend on carrying goods between Continents. A warming trend brings many benefits to economic activity, since so many people around the world are dependent on oil, fish, transportation, and shipping. The economic advantages of warmer climate are everywhere. As the supply of these goods rise along with temperatures, prices would fall, allowing consumers to enjoy more without paying more. Presuming of course that corporations will pass on the savings to consumers, which they rarely do.

Also in colder countries the amount of energy consumption would definitely be lowered. Yes, it may seem as if 2 degrees change in 50 years is a very small statistic but it can make a huge difference. Countries further away from the equator would be the main beneficiaries from the rise in temperatures. A couple days or weeks of warmer weather can save a country millions or billions of dollars alone on energy cost.

Another factor of business that will be affected by talk of global warming will be the onslaught of companies preparing their services and amenities to go green. Many businesses already are taking it upon themselves to present going green as a focal point of their ethical and social operations. Though the expenses that these companies are pouring out to go green may be high, the end result of this decision will be highly beneficial to these companies seeing that the mass public is steadily shifting toward a green market. By doing business in a more energy efficient manner and watching C02 emissions, Organizations and consumers will save money therefore boosting the economy.

                                                                         

How will global warming affect the economy in a negative light?

 There are many that believe the evidence of global warming is conclusive and doing nothing about global warming presents a far greater cost than addressing it. Even the most comprehensive review ever carried out on the economics of climate change warns that global warming could inflict worldwide disruption as great as that caused by the two World Wars and the Great Depression. Climate change will affect the basic elements of life for people around the world - access to water, food production, health, and the environment, the Stern Review states.(Stern Review)  Adding up the costs of a narrow range of the effects, based on the assessment of the science carried out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC climate change 2001) in 2001, the Review calculates that the dangers of climate change would be equivalent to at least five percent of Gross Domestic Product, each year, every year. The effect on the economy is just the tip of the iceberg. The basic elements needed to sustain life will be in higher demand as the population grows and sea levels rise. There could be a land shortage, food and water may be rationed. Global warming and its effect on the economy could affect life on earth as we know it today. 

 

There are many environmental factors that are apparent and can affect the economy heavily in the upcoming years due to global warming. The most recent and apparent evidence of this, that has affected our planet and economy are the onslaught of severe weather storms. Researchers who study severe weather and climate change joined forces to study the effects of global warming on the number of severe storms in the future and discovered a dramatic increase in potential storm conditions for some parts of the United States. (Purdue, 2007) The Purdue University-led team found that by the end of this century the number of days that favor severe storms could more than double in locations such as Atlanta and New York. The effect that severe weather storms can have on the economy is pretty obvious. Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ivan, brought among massive physical damage to the included areas but also took a huge toll on the economy. Another environmental example would be the year 2007 when flooding in the UK created havoc and financial tension; all to be blamed on global warming. (BBC 2007) In such cases, it may happen that some areas may not be under insurance coverage and the ones that are insurable may be required to pay huge insurance premiums.

Though global warming may have positive affects on some areas and agriculture, there is also a negative impact in some areas. In some cases global warming is projected to boost the growth agricultural production while in other cases it leads to desertification. Often, this is compounded by water shortage in those particular areas, which brings about a decrease in food supply due to Text Box: []increase in food prices. The countries that are net importers of food will be affected by such a situation due to the factors that are caused by the temperature rise. Scientists warned that rising temperatures would make crops mature more quickly, reducing their yield, while extreme temperatures could also significantly reduce yields, according to the journal Environmental Research Letters. (Environmental Research Letters, 2007)

Global warming has also been known to cause a rise in sea levels. This is followed by severe loss of land as well as its structural damage. Fighting against rising sea levels is also not trouble-free and is a very expensive process in terms of flood defenses. Most of the time, even the best flood defenses have failed to put a stop to rising sea levels. Also temperature variations may also lead to an increase in infrastructural costs. How? When the sewers, oil pipelines, water mains are exposed to extreme weather conditions, they are adversely affected giving way to sunken foundations, cracked runways and buckling roads.

 

 

Conclusion

Whether Global warming will have an effect on the economy in a positive way or negative is still unknown. What is known is taking care of the planet is a basis for healthy, safe, less costly life on earth. Life on this planet will be fatally affected unless we embrace new practices, ethics, and principles to conduct our lives on a warming planet. There are many things that can affect the way the earth turns out in 20, 50, or 100 years from now. Let’s all take action and be responsible for our children and their children. Earth is our home. We are part of this world and its destiny is our own.

Recommended readings

Stern Review

Climate of fear: Why We Shouldn’t Worry about Global Warming

 

Works cited