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Hullabaloo


Thursday, October 31, 2013

 
What's the greatest threat to economic growth? It's climate change.

by David Atkins

Much as Republicans would like to pretend that Obamacare is somehow the reason why supply-side economics seems to have failed so dramatically, there is actually a looming threat to economic growth much more serious than even conservative economic theory. That threat is climate change:

Nearly a third of the world's economic output will come from countries facing "high" to "extreme" risks from the impacts of climate change within 12 years, according to a new report.

The Climate Change Vulnerability Index, an annual report produced by UK-based risk analysis firm Maplecroft, found that climate change "may pose a serious obstacle to sustainable economic growth in the world's most commercially important cities."

The index ranked the vulnerability of the world's countries, and the 50 cities deemed most economically important, to the impacts of climate change, by evaluating their risk of exposure to extreme climate events, the sensitivity of their populations to that exposure and the adaptive capacity of governments to respond to the challenge.

It said the combined GDP of the 67 countries classed as facing "high" or "extreme" risks was projected to nearly triple from $15 trillion to $44 trillion by 2025 -- meaning nearly a third of the global economy would be coming under increasing threat from extreme climate-related events. It projected the population of those countries -- currently estimated at more than 4.5 billion -- could exceed 5 billion by 2025.

The index's findings bore particularly bad news for Bangladesh, which topped both lists, with its capital, Dhaka, ranked the most vulnerable city due to its exposure to threats such as flooding, storm surge, cyclones and landslides, its susceptible population and weak institutional capacity to address the problem.

Along with the Bangladeshi capital, the four other cities categorized as facing "extreme risk" from climate change impacts were also located in Asia -- Mumbai, Manila, Kolkata and Bangkok -- and projected to be centers of high economic growth.
Yeah, that's not 20 or 30 years down the road. We're talking twelve years here. Like, toward the end of the Hillary Clinton/Ted Cruz Administration. That soon.

But it's just faraway places with in Asia somewhere, right? Wrong. First of all, climate change is already having dramatic impacts on drought, hurricanes and wildfires in the United States.

Second, there's a reason that even as the American middle class dwindles, American corporate profits and stock prices remain so high. Part of it is cheap goods manufactured overseas, and an even greater share of it is the growing middle classes of developing countries to which American companies sell a lot of products. If those economies tumble into crisis due to climate effects, that will have major ripple effects in the American economy as well, jacking up prices on manufactured goods while reducing consumer purchases of American goods abroad.

It's a major problem. How long will big business continue to support the Republican con artists who deny man-made climate change and pretend that Obamacare is a serious threat to growth, and how long will they wait before they realize that climate is a concern that even the billionaires need to take seriously?


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