How much is one degree worth?
Based on a new estimate of what climate change will do to the US economy, the cost could be hundreds of billions of dollars.
A sweeping study out today looks at the potential economic effects of warming down to the county level — and even under the best scenario, it means more heat-related deaths, higher energy bills, and lowered productivity that will widen the gap between rich and poor.
The calculations found every 1 degree increase in global average temperatures shaves about 1.2 percent off the US gross domestic product, currently estimated at $18 trillion. And just as the effects of climate change are expected to hit the world’s poor the hardest, the lowest-income parts of the United States — particularly the Deep South — are likely to see the worst of it, said co-author James Rising, who studies climate impacts at the University of California, Berkeley’s Energy and Resources Group.
“The people who are going to be shouldering a big part of these costs are the one who are least capable of doing that just because they don’t have the levels of incomes you see in many of the states in the North,” Rising said. And since any positive changes fall mainly to the more prosperous northern states, climate change amounts to “a subsidy being paid to Northern, richer states by poorer Southern states.”