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Climate Change To Make US Poorer, Increase Inequality: Study

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A new research has projected that unabated rise in global temperatures will make the United States poorer and more unequal.

“Unmitigated climate change will be very expensive for huge regions of the United States,” said one of the lead researchers Solomon Hsiang, Associate Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley.

“If we continue on the current path, our analysis indicates it may result in the largest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the country’s history,” Hsiang said.

The study prices warming using data and evidence accumulated by the research community over decades.

From this data, the team estimates that for each 0.55 degree Celsius increase in global temperatures, the US economy loses about 0.7 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.

States in the South and lower Midwest, which tend to be poorer and hot already, will lose the most, with economic opportunity travelling northward and westward, according to the study published in the journal Science.

Colder and richer counties along the northern border could benefit the most as health, agriculture and energy costs are projected to improve.

The researchers used statistical methods and 116 climate projections developed by scientists around the world to price the impacts of climate change the way the insurance industry or an investor would, comparing risks and rewards.

The team of economists and climate scientists computed the real-world costs and benefits: how agriculture, crime, health, energy demand, labour and coastal communities will be affected by higher temperatures, changing rainfall, rising seas and intensifying hurricanes.

“In the absence of major efforts to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience, the Gulf Coast will take a massive hit,” Robert Kopp, Professor at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, said.

“Its exposure to sea-level rise – made worse by potentially stronger hurricanes – poses a major risk to its communities. Increasingly extreme heat will drive up violent crime, slow down workers, amp up air conditioning costs, and threaten people’s lives,” Kopp said.

If emissions growth is not slowed, then the resulting 3-5 degrees Celsius of warming above 19th century levels projected for the last two decades of this century would have costs at par with the Great Recession — except they will not go away afterwards and damages for poor regions will be many times larger.

“The ‘hidden costs’ of carbon dioxide emissions are no longer hidden, since now we can see them clearly in the data,” Amir Jina of the University of Chicago said.

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