A new University College London study published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research Letters suggests previous economic models projecting costs imposed on the global community by our warming climate may be underestimating costs the remainder of the century by a factor of 6.
This could be a critical error and shortcoming on the part of modelers and planners in projecting costs imposed by inadequate efforts to move away from fossil fuels. Current projections are vital to governments in calculating financial risks and benefits to slashing global greenhouse emissions. The biggest problems with the current projections, as found in this study, is the short-term focus on costs imposed by climate change. There appears to be a nearly unspoken assumption that extreme weather and climate events have short-term, readily calculable costs but these costs are not effectively factored into much longer time spans. In other words, the costs are fixated on the short-term impacts.
As summarized in phys.org, a weekly publication of the American Physics Association: “Extreme events like droughts, fires, heat waves and storms are likely to cause long-term economic harm because of their impact on health, savings and labor productivity.”
Because the economic costs over this century are not being properly modeled to include the long-term economic harm, the international team of scientists wanted to define a more reliable range focused on one widely used climate costs model. They found global GDP due to economic impacts could be 37% lower, compared to the previous study’s figure of 6%. This underestimation, they have found, would be due to the lack of inclusion of the long-term impacts being added to the recognized short-term impacts. Based on the new study’s conclusion, this would mean the climate costs model underestimates the costs by a factor of 6.
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