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Arctic thaw would cost half of world's annual earnings

Staff writer |
New research calculates that the economic damage that would flow from loss of permafrost and the increased emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) would add up to $43 trillion.

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This is very nearly the estimated combined gross domestic product last year of the US, China, Japan, Germany, the UK, France, and Brazil.

And, British and US scientists say, this would be in addition to at least $300 tn of economic damage linked to other consequences of climate change.

The attempt to put a cumulative economic value on natural changes in climate that have yet to happen is part of the bid to get governments to take climate change seriously.

In the latest attempt to cost the impact of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, and the continuous rise in global average temperatures, all as a consequence of fossil fuel combustion and other human action, the economist Chris Hope of the University of Cambridge and the polar expert Kevin Schaefer of the University of Colorado have turned their sights on the Arctic.

The Arctic is the fastest-warming region of the planet. It was once much warmer, and its now-frozen soils are home to huge quantities of vegetation that never had a chance to decompose.


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