A look at the costs
We are already seeing the impact of global warming on rising sea levels, mega-storms, extreme flooding and droughts. This is just the beginning. The costs will continue to rise the longer we wait. Insurance companies know this – and they are already adjusting their premiums accordingly. Here are just some of the other costs.
- The direct damage costs to health (i.e. excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation), is estimated to be between USD 2-4 billion/year by 2030.
- Because of the decline in bee populations, China is now hand-pollinating its crops. It is estimated that the annual cost of this work to the US economy would be $14.6 billion and £440 million in the UK.
- Rising sea levels are the most worrying of all. The expected damages due to coastal flooding by 2050? € 11 billion – plus another €1.5 billion each year after that to adapt dikes and beaches. The state of Florida alone estimates that it has already spent $4 billion on preventative measures.
- In the United States alone:
- Climate-related costs due to hurricanes, wildfires and droughts have increased by 400% since the 1980s. Just in 2017, extreme weather events cost $306.2 billion.
- Losses such as reduced crop yields from drought: $56 billion since 2012.
Costs we don’t have numbers for:
- The warming of the oceans, the changing ocean circulation, ocean acidification, and deoxygenation will most likely impact fishing. Some fish habitats will be greatly reduced, and studies suggest that the fish of the future will be smaller in size.
- Right now, dozens of species are dying each day, primarily because of habitat loss and global warming. Because of the complex interconnectedness of species, ecosystems and food chains, there is no way to calculate what this will cost us – or the ways in which it will fundamentally change life on Earth.