If the world does nothing to limit carbon emissions, the US economy will suffer — but, according to a new study published Thursday in Science, the Pacific Northwest might actually benefit.
The researchers looked at data about how weather affects mortality, agriculture, and other industries and economic indicators. They then combined that data with models showing what weather is expected in the future if no steps are taken to limit emissions. They found that climate change will benefit the regions that already have the strongest economies.
“It’s what looks like a transfer of income from the already poorer south to the already richer north,” said Amir Jina, an environmental economist at the University of Chicago and a study co-author.
That’s because cold weather in the Pacific Northwest and New England will get less severe, so mortality there will decrease, and people living longer is good for the economy.
But hot weather, sea level rise and disasters will all get worse in the south, which will be bad for their economies and will also inevitably affect other regions.
“The damages and the disaster response that needs to be paid for when sea level rise and a storm surge occurs in Florida is not something that the Pacific Northwest’s economy is going to be immune from,” Jina said.
Also, even if the Pacific Northwest as a whole will benefit, eastern Washington and Oregon might actually suffer.