Global Warming and the US Economy

Laurie David, comedy developer turned environmental activist, writes in the Huffington Post:

Last week at the G8, President Bush restated his favorite global
warming canard: that mandatory curbs on fossil fuel pollution will “cripple the U.S. economy.”

I wish there was an even bolder bold on this computer to emphasize how
insane this logic is. Non-stop flooding, killer heat waves, energy and
food shortages: what will these do to the economy?

Actually Laurie, and PGL of Angry Bear who links to David, the best study of the issue indicates that global warming is most likely a net benefit to the US economy.  Carbon dioxide and greater temperature makes plants grow faster.  The author, Yale economist Robert Mendelsohn writes:

Climate change is likely to result in small net benefits for the United States over the next century. The primary sector that will benefit is agriculture. The large gains in this sector will more than compensate for damages expected in the coastal, energy, and water sectors, unless warming is unexpectedly severe. Forestry is also expected to enjoy small gains. Added together, the United States will likely enjoy small benefits of between $14 and $23 billion a year and will only suffer damages in the neighborhood of
$13 billion if warming reaches 5C over the next century. Recent predictions of warming by 2100 suggest temperature increases of between 1.5 and 4C, suggesting that impacts are likely to be beneficial in the US.

Speaking personally, I have undergone a greater shift in mean temperature by moving from Canada to the US than will occur in 100 years of global warming and I like it!  My fellow Canadians, still stuck in the frozen north, will be glad to know that in the future they too can have warmer temperatures without giving up their prized health care system.

For the developing world the effects of climate change are most likely negative but not so negative that further development – combined with some modest changes in first-world technology, such as greater use of nuclear power – is not the best solution.


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