Combating climate change protects economy, says EPA

We often hear from the opponents of tackling climate change  that such measures would “cost too much” in the way of jobs lost, economic activity restricted, and companies edged out by regulations. What we hear far less, and what the EPA has demonstrated in a report released yesterday, is the savings (in tax expenditures, retained economic activity, and lives) we can enjoy by preventing the widespread calamity of climate change. The following is a quick tally of EPA’s projected savings for the US over the next century by dealing with climate change:

  • 57,000 lives from dying of poor air quality ($930 billion in lost economic activity from those 57,000)
  • 12,000 lives from dying of extreme heat or cold ($200 billion in lost economic activity from those 12,000)
  • $110 billion in lost labor hours (more frequent sick days, unsuitable work conditions)
  • $4.2-$7.4 billion in road adaptation costs
  • $3.1 billion in coastal property damages and countermeasures
  • $2.6 to $3.1 billion in agriculture drought losses
  • $1.2 billion in lost tourism if Hawaii loses projected 35% of their coral reefs
  • $1.1 to $1.6 billion to stop 720-2,200 bridges from losing integrity
  • $940 million to $1.4 billion in forest lost to increased wildfires
  • $50 million to $6.4 billion in retrofitting urban drainage systems to accommodate more frequent and severe flooding

Add all that up, and (using the lower end of each estimate) EPA reports we’re left with a savings to the tune of $1.25 trillion and 69,000 lives by 2100 by taking action on climate change now. 

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