Climate change will be an economic disaster for rich and poor

climate change

The argument against addressing climate change is often an economic one: We can’t afford disrupting our fossil fuel-driven society.

But an analysis by UC Berkeley and Stanford researchers has come to the opposite conclusion. In a paper published in Nature, they find that we can’t afford to ignore climate change because the economic impacts will far outstrip the cost of transitioning away from fossil fuels.

The study — based on 50 years of historical data from 150 countries around the world — was the first of its kind to assess how warming temperatures will affect global earnings and GDP.

The findings: climate change could reduce average global incomes by 23 percent. A projected 77 percent of countries — the US included — will be poorer in 2100 if we don’t avert warming.

Whose economy will take a hit? The redder the color, the more severe the impact:

climate change

Researchers found that, historically, labor supply, productivity and crop yields decline as temperatures climb above certain optimal levels. Wealthier, more developed economies are not immune to these economic shocks.

According to the researchers’ models, the hottest countries would take the biggest hit to their economies in a warming world, while those in temperate zones, like the US, China and Southern Europe, would face moderate declines. A few cooler countries — like Canada and Russia — could actually see productivity increase, but would have to contend with slowed growth among their trading partners.