America’s Political Economy: climate change, inequality and the value of (poor) lives

Adam Tooze over at his website:

As climate changes and temperatures rise, who will hurt? At least since the 1980s and Ulrich Beck’s pathbreaking work on Risk Society, the question of the social stratification of risks has been posed.

At a global level it has long been obvious that some of the poorest nations will suffer most from climate change and that the US is amongst the least impacted countries. But does this finding hold across the US? Remarkably, a new study by the Climate Impact Lab (UC Berkeley, Rutgers, University of Chicago, and Rhodium Group, along with their research partners at Princeton University and RMS.) is the first to attempt to assess the effects across the US at the county level.

The results were published in Science and were reported in both the FT and the NYT.

The results are pretty eye-opening. Assuming a business as usual emissions scenario and no major breakthroughs in mitigation, every 1°C increase in global temperatures, costs the US economy about 1.2 per cent of gross domestic product. But these costs are very unevenly distributed. The impact on the Southern parts of the US by 2100 is predicted to be very severe indeed.

With the impact concentrated in the South, this also means that the costs will fall disproportionately on the poorest counties of the US.

More here.