Global warming to carry big costs for California

(AP) -- From agricultural losses to devastation wrought by wildfires, California's economy is expected to see significant costs resulting from global warming in the decades ahead, according to a new report.

Global warming could translate into annual costs and revenue losses throughout the economy of between $2.5 billion and $15 billion by 2050, according to a summary of cost analyses presented to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's climate advisers.

Property damage caused by more devastating wildfires and - the is alone estimated $100 billion in property loss by the end of the century - could push the costs far higher.

The projected financial toll comes from a compilation of 40 studies commissioned by the governor's Climate Action Team. The final reports, which will be released at the end of March, are intended to provide a comprehensive snapshot of global warming's potential costs to property owners, businesses and state government.

"The numbers indicate that we have a lot at stake," said Michael Hanemann, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the . "Californians need to pay serious attention to control our , and they need to start thinking about adaptation."

The studies were written by scientists from various disciplines based at California universities and research institutions. They include a range of costs from agriculture, wildfires, water supply, flooding and .

If nothing is done globally to reduce emissions, hotter temperatures will lead to rising sea levels that will flood property in the area, lead to lower crop yields and water shortages, produce more intense wildfires and cause more demand for electricity to cool homes.

Hanemann, who reviewed the studies, said the annual cost estimate of $2.5 billion to $15 billion is conservative.

For example, wildfire property damage estimates do not include money that might be spent by state and local governments to fight the fires.

Wildfire property damage alone could cost Californians between $200 million and $42 billion a year, with the larger figure based on a worse-case scenario, Hanemann said. The state spent about $1 billion fighting wildfires in 2008.

Economic estimates were not available for the small-business sector. The consequences for commercial and recreational fishing as marine ecosystems change or the ski industry if the snowpack gets smaller also have not been determined.

The annual costs also could be greater at the end of the century, ranging from $14 billion a year to $45 billion in 2085.

California's total annual economic output was estimated at $1.8 trillion in 2007, the most recent figure published by the federal government.

The study on rising sea levels by the Pacific Institute estimates that California will lose 41 square miles of coastline by 2100, and that people in San Mateo, Orange and Alameda Counties are most vulnerable.

The report states that flooding would effect almost half a million people who live in areas at risk. It also estimates that 3,500 miles of roads, 30 power plants, 29 wastewater treatment plants and San Francisco and Oakland International airports are all at risk of being under water.

The reports come as California regulators are implementing a 2006 state law that requires greenhouse gas emissions to be cut to 1990 levels by 2020.

Linda Adams, secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, said the research shows why the state needs to cut carbon emissions aggressively over the next 40 years.

"It will cost significantly less to combat climate change than it will to maintain a business-as-usual approach," Adams said.


Associated Press writer Jason Dearen in San Francisco contributed to this report.
©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Mar 12, 2009
So, I guess if we spend between $2.5 billion and $15 billion on quack remedies for carbon and greenhouse gas by 2050, we can avoid losing that same amount of money? What a fantastic system of wealth redistribution.

Increasing the cost of all economic activity and chanelling it into the pockets of quack climatologists and NGO greens is a great way for cash-strapped California to recover its economy. You can't make this stuff up.

Mar 13, 2009
Arkaleus and Velanarris are both wrong. Global warming doesn't even exist, so there's no change to adapt to.

Mar 15, 2009
Arkaleus and Velanarris are both wrong. Global warming doesn't even exist, so there's no change to adapt to.

It's great that the AGW proponents are the ones who continue to use the term denialist, yet, they're the ones perpetrating the stereotype.

Comments 1 and 3:

"Denialist" is an appropriate term for a person who denies reality because of their own personal religious/political/economic ideology, an ideology that has absolutely NOTHING to do with science. What ideology is causing your reality denial, Velanarris? Could it be anarcho-capitalism? Free market theology? Libertarianism? Do you worship Ron Paul?

Mar 16, 2009
It's always fun getting mauled by green trolls, who seem to relish bludgeoning everyone who dissents from climate hysteria. It smacks me of the scenes from Invasion of the Body snatchers, when the natural humans are caught by the replicant humans - The replicants scream and stampede them with hive-mind dedication.

Your use of the word "denial" to describe myself and Vetanarris is kooky in itself. It's like we are heretics appearing before the inquisition. My statements have nothing to do with "denying" anyone belief system. I would never "deny" good science, or "deny" what can be demonstrated as fact.

What I am against is irrational social and economic policy being justified by unproven climate theory. I'm also against the attitude of people who insist on imposing their views on others and forcing people to live in their version of reality.

I hold that you are free to live as you like and burn whatever fuel you want, Noein and Kerry. I insist that you afford me the same liberty.

Mar 16, 2009
You have to admit, from a sociological view, people preaching catastrophic AGW and urging extreme action resembles very strongly the frantic testimony of religious fundamentalists, urging mankind on to crusade or repentance to avert the dire punishments of an angry god.

I think it's a little healthier to approach problems calmly, rather than with a sense of crisis. Don't you agree?

Mar 17, 2009
If there is anything worthy of a sense of immediacy it is the need to create a sensible and honest long term plan for the management of our resources. When you consider the growth of population and the need for critical resources, the probability of violence and warfare greatly increases with time.

Of course this is difficult to do because it requires the controlling interests in societiies to be frank and candid about their systems of control and distrubution, and this would tip too many hands towards the public. Part of the ugly reality of our present situation is that the unsustainable oligarchies of globalism are destroying the stability of the planet and introducing chaos into the markets of the world in order to serve short sighted and ultimately small scale selfishness.

Climate change is yet another set of variables we need to deal with on a large scale. Wise adaptation and CONSERVATION of what our civilization requires is necessary to prevent warfare, collapse and depletion.

What we don't need is a new class of eco-clergy interfering in our societies. Most of these characters are fringe personalities already, with many of them preaching human self-destruction and depopulation as the ultimate solution of environmental management issues. As I've said before, persons who espose such views should be removed from public finding immediately, and if they continue to publicly advocate such ideas they should be arrested for disturbing the peace.

Frankly I don't understand how any human being could become so indolent and depraved as to actually advocate destroying one's own species.

On the other hand, it serves us to remember that "millenium madness" isn't dead, it's just found a new vector through the soothsayers of the ecological apocalypse.

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