'Marketplace' Report: The Cost of Climate Change
ALEX CHADWICK, host:
Back now with DAY TO DAY.
A new study from Oregon and Washington is one of the first to attempt to quantify the financial consequences of global warming. Marketplace's Janet Babin is here.
Janet, welcome back. And more about this study. Who conducted it?
JANET BABIN: Well, it's out of the Climate Leadership Initiative, Alex. And that's at the University of Oregon. But the State of Washington actually requested the report. Now, Boston and some smaller regional areas have done similar reports. But really, this is the first one to look at the global warming costs on a state level.
CHADWICK: And what did they conclude?
BABIN: Well, we do have some dollar figures in a moment. But first, I wanted to tell you that the authors didn't actually end up totally up the entire price tag. Instead, they looked at seven key sectors of the Pacific Northwest economy that they say will experience increased costs. And the dominant thread here is that they all have to do with the lack of water.
I talked to Bob Doppelt about this. He's the director of the Climate Leadership Initiative that wrote the study.
Mr. BOB DOPPELT (Climate Leadership Initiative): The reason fires are going to increase is because there's less snow pack because of warming, less moisture in the soil, consequently. And the moisture there that is in the soil will evaporate earlier because of the temperature increases drying out the forest.
BABIN: So here's one of the price tags from the report. The author found that it it'll cost more than $75 million to fight forest fires in the Pacific Northwest because of global warming by 2020. And that's a 50 percent jump over today's costs. And Alex, according to the report, there is going to be similar economic costs in every sector of the economy there that's dependent on water. So for example, public health costs could go up $400 million.
CHADWICK: So you know, Janet, people argue about the role of fossil fuel emissions, although there's definitely some role in global warming. What if these states managed to curb their fossil fuel emissions?
BABIN: Yeah. This study found that these effects are going to happen no matter what they do now to curb emissions. But the study did say that if policies are changed, the costs could begin to decrease in the second part of the century.
CHADWICK: I wonder if people in Seattle are really going to believe this. Because I keep reading about all the rain and snow they're getting lately, really in both Oregon and Washington.
BABIN: I know. And I asked Bob Doppelt about that. And he said that's the difference really between climate and weather. Weather is what happens short term, like all the rain and snow they've been getting. But climate is really a long-term trend. And for the last two decades, that region has had a decrease in snow and rain.
Coming up later today on Marketplace, we're going to take a look at whether the new Congress is going to increase the number of stem cell lines eligible for federal funding.
CHADWICK: Thank you, Janet. Janet Babin, senior business correspondent for Public Radio's daily business show, Marketplace, produced by American Public Media.
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