Climate Change Report Also Offers Lessons

A series of reports from the University of Maryland's Center for Integrative Environmental Research (CIER) puts a number on the costs of climate changes for several states but also offers lessons from the analysis.

Those lessons include the following:

  • "There are already considerable costs to society associated with infrastructures, agricultural and silvicultural practices, land use choices, transportation and consumptive behaviors that are not in synch with past and current climatic conditions. These costs are likely to increase as climate change accelerates over the century to come."

  • "The effects of climate change should not be considered in isolation. Every state's economy is linked to the economies of surrounding states as well as to the national and global economy. While the economic costs of climate change are predicted to vary significantly from state to state, the negative impacts that regional, national, and global markets may experience are likely to affect all states and many sectors."

  • "While some of the benefits from climate change may accrue to individual farms or businesses, the cost of dealing with adverse climate impacts are typically borne by society as a whole. These costs to society will not be uniformly distributed but felt most among small businesses and farms, the elderly, and socially marginalized groups."

  • "The costs of inaction are persistent and lasting. Benefits from climate change may be brief and fleeting -- for example, climate does not stop changing once a farm benefited from temporarily improved growing conditions. In contrast, costs of inaction are likely to stay and to increase."

  • "Climate models and impact assessments are becoming increasingly refined…Yet, little consistency exists among studies to enable 'summing up' impacts and cost figures across sectors and regions to arrive at a comprehensive, state-wide result." More precise modeling will require further research.

The studies were released July 23 at the legislative summit of the National Conference of State Legislators. The NCSL collaborated with CIER to develop summaries for the thousands of officials participating in the convention.

The complete reports for eight states are available at http://cier.umd.edu/climateadaptation/.

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