Sunny, sweltering ... Scandinavia?
January 28, 2011
What's the economic cost of giving snow-loving Sweden the balmy climate of Italy? The science is silent.
The cost of climate change
Jan. 28 : Ethical dilemma sways economics
By Douglas Fischer
There's one crucial ethical issue unaddressed in the cost estimates: Cultural change.
Climate scientists, after all, aren't saying life is going to be wiped out in a warmer world - just that it will be different.
But what's the cost of such cultural upheaval? The models are silent, said Michael MacCracken, chief scientist for climate change programs at the Climate Institute.
"If Sweden becomes the climate of Italy, people will still be alive and working and doing something there, but there's no acknowledgment that Sweden isn't Sweden anymore."
The Chesapeake Bay region, already sinking close to six inches a century as a result of various land-use decisions, could be particularly hard hit by a rising sea, MacCracken noted.
"Does life go on? Well, yes," he said. "But what do you do about Baltimore? You're switching from a natural world to a very much engineered system."
Douglas Fischer is editor of DailyClimate.org, a nonprofit news service covering climate change
Photo of boy savoring a warm crepe in December in Denmark courtesy roblisameehan/flickr
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