The cost of inaction on climate change is explored in a new report from Bloomberg titled “Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States.” The report explains how a warmer world will lead to cataclysmic storms, floods, droughts and fires which will cost lives, destroy property and disrupt businesses. The report was prepared by a bipartisan group of three former Treasury Secretaries (Hank Paulson, Robert Rubin and George Schultz), the former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg and the billionaire investor Thomas Steyer.
According to the report as much as $106 billion worth of existing coastal property in the US will fall below sea level by 2050. This oceans could engulf as much as $507 billion worth of property by 2100.
While areas inland will not succumb to flooding, they will not be immune from the impacts of a warmer world. In the Midwest extreme heat will result in reduced crop yields and in the Southeast, extreme heat will have serious impacts on labor productivity. Both reduced crop yields and decreased productivity will have far reaching economic consequences.
As Bloomberg, co-chair of the Risky Business Project, says: “Damages from storms, flooding, and heat waves are already costing local economies billions of dollars—we saw that first hand in New York City with Hurricane Sandy. With the oceans rising and the climate changing, the Risky Business report details the costs of inaction in ways that are easy to understand in dollars and cents—and impossible to ignore.”
To put this is terms an investor can understand, “Climate change is nature’s way of charging us compound interest for doing the wrong thing,” explained Tom Steyer, an investor, philanthropist and president of NextGen Climate. “The longer we wait to address the growing risks of climate change, the more it will cost us all.”
As explained by Dr. Al Sommer, dean emeritus of the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, “if we stay on the ‘business as usual’ path, things only get worse from there—we shouldn’t take that risk.”
Anything short of immediate action on climate change presents “risky business.”
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Risky Business: The Costs of Climate Change in the US
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Video – Overview of the Risky Business report
Video – The Risky Business report (Michael Bloomberg)