Climate Change Puts Trillions of Dollars in Assets at Risk Along U.S. Coasts
A new report commissioned by WWF and Allianz assesses potential economic consequences of key “tipping points” by mid-century; and warns of particularly large exposure along U.S. northeast coast
- Sea level rise. Globally, a 0.5 meter (20 inches) sea level rise (with somewhat higher levels along U.S. northeast coast) could increase the value of at-risk assets in 136 key coastal cities worldwide by up to $28 trillion.
- Increased Aridity in Southwest North America. The region is likely to be affected by droughts and levels of aridity similar to the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. In California alone, this would result in major impacts on water resources, agriculture and wildfires. The annual damages caused by wildfires could be tenfold compared to today’s costs and could reach up to $2.5 billion per year by 2050, and up to $14 billion annually by 2085.
- Shifts in the Indian Monsoon. Shifts in the monsoon coupled with the melting of Himalayan glaciers could “increase the likelihood, severity and exposure of populations and the economy to potentially devastating conditions within the first half of this century with implications for water resources, health, and food security, and major economic implications not only for India but for economies regionally and worldwide.”
- Dieback of the Amazon Rainforest. Dieback of the Amazon rainforest could reach 70% by the end of the century as a consequence of a significant increase in the frequency of droughts in the Amazon basin. The impacts include loss of biodiversity and massive releases of carbon to the atmosphere. Costs could range well into the trillions of dollars, depending on the degree of warming.
- Climate Tipping Points multimedia Web site
- Major Tipping Points in the Earth’s Climate System and Consequences for the Insurance Sector [PDF]. Also available: Executive Summary [PDF]
- Sea Level Rise May Pose Greatest Threat to Northeast U.S., Canada. Press release (27 May 2009) from the National Science Foundation.
- Record Storm Surges hit Mid-Atlantic Coast, Jeff Masters' Wunderblog, 13 November 2009.
NOAA Report Explains Sea Level Anomaly this Summer along the U.S. Atlantic Coast. Press release (31 August 2009) from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Coastal Sensitivity to Sea-Level Rise: A Focus on the Mid-Atlantic Region (2009). Report (dtd 2008) from the U.S. Global Change Research Program (Synthesis and Assessment Product 4.1).
Impacts of Climate Variability and Change on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure -- Gulf Coast Study. Report (dtd 2008) from the U.S. Global Change Research Program (Synthesis and Assessment Product 4.7).
Sea Level Is Rising Along U.S. Atlantic Coast, According to Data Analysis by Penn Environmental Scientists. Press release (2 December 2009) from University of Pennsylvania.