Hurricane damage may increase as a result of rising global temperatures caused by greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels. Computer simulations of regional economic sectors and supply chains in the US now show that the resulting economic losses cannot be offset nationally by unabated warming at some point. If too many factories and the like are hit by the hurricane and stop working, other countries will have to step in to deliver the goods, the scientists who did the study said. The hurricane effects from global warming could thus place the US at an economic disadvantage.
“Tropical cyclones get their energy from the heat of the ocean surface. In addition, warmer air can hold more water that can eventually be released in heavy rains and flooding that often occurs when a hurricane makes landfall,” said Robin Middelanis of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the University of Potsdam, lead author of the study. “So it’s clear … that hurricane damage will increase as we continue to warm our Earth system.” While we may not have more hurricanes in the future, the strongest of them could become more devastating.
“Now one of the important questions is: can we handle that economically? The answer is: not so, we can’t,” says Middelanis. “Our calculations show for the first time that the U.S. economy, as one of the strongest on our planet, will ultimately be unable to offset losses in their supply chains alone. Increasing hurricane damage will affect the coping capabilities of this economic superpower.”
Local production losses spread through all supply chain networks
The scientists looked at Hurricane Harvey of 2017, which hit Texas and Louisiana, costing a whopping $125 billion in direct damage alone, and calculated what its impact would be at different levels of warming. Importantly, losses from local business interruptions spread through the national and global supply chain network, leading to additional indirect economic effects. In their simulations of more than 7,000 regional economic sectors with more than 1.8 million supply chain connections, the scientists find that the supply chains of the U.S. national economy cannot offset future local production losses from hurricanes if climate change continues.
“We’ve been investigating global warming up to 5°C – which could unfortunately be achieved by the end of our century if climate policy fails us,” said Anders Levermann, chief of complexity science at PIK and scientist at Columbia University in New York. , a study co-author published in Letters for environmental research.
“We don’t want to quantify temperature thresholds for the adjustment limit of the US economy’s national supply chains because we feel there is too much uncertainty involved. Still, we are confident that the supply chain capabilities of the US economy as they are today , not enough if global warming continues. There is a limit to how much the US economy can tolerate, we just don’t know exactly where it is.”
‘Bad for people’
Ironically, in the case of Hurricane Harvey, it is the Texas oil and gas industry that suffers from the effects of hurricanes caused by global warming – while global warming is in turn driven by the emissions of burning oil and gas, plus, of course, coal. The fossil fuel extraction sector is large in that region of the US and vulnerable to cyclone damage. The computer simulations show that production losses in the fuel sector will be among the most offset by countries such as Canada and Norway, as well as Venezuela and Indonesia, at the expense of the US economy.
“When things break and production fails locally, there is always someone in the world eager to make money selling the replacement goods,” says Levermann.
“So why worry? Well, reduced production means higher prices, and even if that means it’s good for some economies, it’s generally bad for the consumers – the people. Also from a global economic perspective, shifts could result. of disrupted supply chains mean less efficient producers step in. It’s a pragmatic, clear conclusion that we need to avoid increasing greenhouse gas emissions, which amplify these kinds of disruptions.”
The ripple factor: Economic losses from extreme weather events can amplify each other around the world
Robin Middelanis et al, Economic losses from hurricanes cannot be compensated nationally with unabated warming, Letters for environmental research (2022). DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/ac90d8
Quote: Economic losses from hurricanes could become too great for the US to offset if warming continues (October 2022, October 17) retrieved October 17, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-10-economic-losses- hurricanes-big-offset.html
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