Arctic melt to cost up to $24 trln by 2050 -report

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – Arctic ice melting could cost  global agriculture, real estate and insurance anywhere from  $2.4 trillion to $24 trillion by 2050 in damage from rising sea  levels, floods and heat waves, according to a report released  yesterday.

“Everybody around the world is going to bear these costs,”  said Eban Goodstein, a resource economist at Bard College in  New York state who co-authored the report, called “Arctic  Treasure, Global Assets Melting Away.”

He said the report, reviewed by more than a dozen  scientists and economists and funded by the Pew Environment  Group, an arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts, provides a first  attempt to monetize the cost of the loss of one of the world’s  great weather makers.

“The Arctic is the planet’s air conditioner and it’s  starting to break down,” he said.

The loss of Arctic Sea ice and snow cover is already  costing the world about $61 billion to $371 billion annually  from costs associated with heat waves, flooding and other  factors, the report said.

The losses could grow as a warmer Arctic unlocks vast  stores of methane in the permafrost. The gas has about 21 times  the global warming impact of carbon dioxide.

Melting of Arctic sea ice is already triggering a feedback  of more warming as dark water revealed by the receding ice  absorbs more of the sun’s energy, he said. That could lead to  more melting of glaciers on land and raise global sea levels.

While much of Europe and the United States has suffered  heavy snowstorms and unusually low temperatures this winter,  evidence has built that the Arctic is at risk from warming.

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