Impacts on economics

Cool Pennsylvania: The Campaign to Stop Global Warming

Global warming is destroying our economy.

Pennsylvania is the fifth largest producer of milk in the United States (as well as the top producer of mushrooms, and the fourth largest producer of apples, freestone peaches, and eggs), for now.

Dairy farming is predicted to lose up to 20 percent of its production by 2100 because of the effect of heat stress on cows. Crop yields have the potential to decrease by as much as 39 percent.

Our black cherry trees are in danger of losing their habitat. This loss would affect our timber and furniture-making industries.

Extreme weather events are expected to increase annual losses.

In a press release to announce a forum held on October 29, 2008, Pennsylvania's insurance commissioner said "The insurance industry is the first in line to face the financial hazards related to climate change."

In the past decade flooding caused $441.5 million in damage in southeastern Pennsylvania. In June 2006, severe flooding caused hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate regions of eastern Pennsylvania. Three thousand three hundred flood insurance claims were filed. An estimated $30 million worth of property damage occurred in Bucks County alone. In 2004 millions of dollars in damage was realized when more than 30,000 homes and businesses in western Pennsylvania were damaged by flooding from Hurricane Ivan.

Maps of Pennsylvania, adapted from the Union of Concerned Scientists, that represent the projected decrease in black cherry tree habitat

Greater numbers of intense rainfalls and tornadoes are expected as temperatures rise.

Billions of weather-affected industry dollars are at risk.

Rising temperatures don't just endanger trees, fish, plants, and animals. They will also limit — or eliminate — seasonal recreation and industries.

Our signature maple/beech/birch forests are predicted to disappear by the end of the century. Our famed fall foliage displays, which attract annual tourists, will will go with them. Ecosystems and life forms in those forests will be forever altered, affecting our hunting industry.

Warmer weather means less snow for the ski industry. The Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association (PSAA) has realized the threat to its industry and is working to make changes and educate the public. Fewer cold water fisheries means that industry will suffer too. Predicted diminished stream and river flows and lower lake levels, particularly in drought-ridden summers, won't help the situation.

According to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, recreational fishing has major positive economic impacts for Pennsylvania. Its overall contribution is conservatively estimated at $1.35 billion per year. It supports nearly 17,000 jobs and adds nearly $50 million per year to the Commonwealth's General Fund in the form of sales and income taxes. Global warming will significantly cut into those numbers.

The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change (2006) estimated that if we do nothing, global warming will cost the world at least five percent and as much as 20 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Health impacts mean cost impacts.

Global warming will lead to increased incidences of respiratory, cardiac and other health and health-related issues. Health care systems and costs will be forced to adapt to these increases.

What can be done?

Energy efficiency
An American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) report conlcudes that an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) could power almost 48 million households in 2020, save Americans almost $170 billion, create more than 220,000 jobs and reduce greenhouse gas pollution by 262 million metric tons while eliminating the need to build 390 power plants.

Renewable energy
Numerous studies have concluded that a 25 percent by 2025 requirement for renewable energy is affordable, achievable and, most importantly, will create hundreds of thousands of clean energy jobs in every region of the U.S. A 2009 study by the Union of Concerned Scientists concluded 297,000 jobs in manufacturing, construction, operations, maintenance, agriculture, forestry and many other industries would be created.

A long-term commitment to renewable energy is critical to the global competitiveness of U.S. renewable energy component manufacturing and development. Without a strong national renewable electricity standard (RES), many states will actually lose clean energy jobs.

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