Climate Change Will Push US Into Economic Recession By 2100


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer


America is not being made great again. Dustie/Shutterstock

A shocking new Science study has been looking into the economic consequences of uncontrolled and unmitigated climate change on the US, and as you might expect it’s not good news. By the end of the century, the country could be in the grips of a recession – one that it cannot reverse or ever recover from.

Under a business-as-usual scenario, 1.2 percent of GDP will be lost with every degree (°C) the temperature rises. At this rate, the entire country will lose at the very least 3 percent of its GDP by 2100.


As this calculation assumes climate change is not acted upon, this would mean that the phenomenon would become essentially irreversible by then – and this would continually hammer the US economy for decades to come.

It gets worse. As ever when it comes to climate change, the poorest will suffer the greatest harm.

By 2100, the poorest 10 percent will experience income losses of anywhere between 8 and 21 percent. In comparison, the richest 10 percent of the country would suffer income losses of between 0 and 2 percent.

Some of the projections for the year 2100 are genuinely frightening. Hsiang et al./Science

Southern states will be hit the hardest. According to the analysis, the Gulf Coast will be so bombarded by hurricanes, storm surges, and heat waves that certain counties would lose as much as 28 percent of their GDP. Texas would also suffer on a similar scale. Only states up in the cooler Northeast and West would remain relatively unscathed.


The projections, based on economic models and cutting-edge climate simulations, were the most comprehensive of their kind to date. The team, led by the Universities of California Berkeley, Chicago, and Princeton, looked at how “agriculture, crime, health, energy demand, labor, and coastal communities will be affected by higher temperatures, changing rainfall, rising, seas and intensifying hurricanes.”

This study represents the more precise vision of a future wherein our species has given up trying to stem the worst of our excesses. It can be prevented, of course – but ironically, considering the President’s recent decision to leave the Paris agreement, it may be the rest of the world that saves America rather than America itself.

Plenty of studies have confirmed that poorer nations will suffer disproportionately through climate change. This man-made phenomenon will destroy agriculture, spread disease, and annihilate basic resources in already unstable nations. It will bring about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – war and conquest, famine, and death.

This new study is the first to show that this effect also applies to the US, the world’s sole superpower. It’s a sobering thought to know that the most powerful and wealthy country on Earth is just as vulnerable to climate change as the rest.


Of course, what happens to the wider world also affects America.

“Although the bulk of the economic damage from climate change will be borne outside of the United States,” the team write in their study, “impacts outside the United States will have indirect effects on the United States through trade, migration, and possibly other channels.”

There's a surprisingly linear relationship between temperature rises and violent crime. Hsiang et al/Science

The economic cost of climate change on both America and the wider world has been looked into before, and the news is always grim. The collapse of climate change mitigation efforts would rob the world of a $19 trillion paycheck, at the very least. Even by 2030, the US economy would lose $2 trillion, and the hour’s getting a little late to stop this from happening.

You know what would actually boost the global economy, and the US’ in particular? Massive investment in clean energy. Less climate change nightmares, less infrastructural damage, fewer heat waves, more productivity. Cheaper energy, improved electricity supplies. Better trade and cooperation with the rest of the world.


Indeed, that’s one of the key benefits of the Paris agreement – so it’s a shame that this compelling argument falls on deaf ears in the White House.


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