The Economics of Climate Change

By Paulette Schuster (Student Activist)

As someone living in New York City and Boston, it’s easy to see climate change as a distant tragedy or a local inconvenience. Climate change mostly manifests in my life as undesirable extreme weather. For many people, an issue that does not seem eminent does not seem urgent to work to solve. However, just because climate change is not apparent in your life, does not mean that it cannot have extreme effects later on.

West Coast:

The shrinking snowpack and warmer temperatures in the West have devastating impacts on water supply, animal populations, and the economy. Industries that rely on snow, skiing for example, could definitely feel squeezed in the coming years. You don’t have to like skiing to realize how much money recreational winter activities bring to many Western states. Another issue that stems from less snow is less runoff, which strains the region’s ability to store water. Combined with hotter temperatures that exacerbate the effects of a drought, farming in the West is in danger. Higher temperatures also create less amicable temperatures to grow many staple products in Western states, such as grapes in California’s Napa Valley.

Many animals indigenous to the West are either being over or underpopulated. I hope the fact that we are negatively impacting animal populations is enough to get on board to fight climate change. But if it’s not, here are some of the ways this change will affect your life in the West. For example, as temperatures rise mountain pine beetles in the Rockies are surviving and repopulating at alarmingly high rates. They are killing off millions of acres of trees, not only depleting resources for other animals in the region such as grizzly bears, but creating millions of acres of forest fires waiting to happen.

The Midwest:

The Midwest will see more snow and colder temperatures in the winter. More blizzards will lead to more damages, dangerous conditions, work and school shutdowns, and more money needed to deal with extreme weather. More snow will lead to catastrophic flooding when that snow melts in the spring.

Summers will be hotter and heatwaves more common, putting children and elderly people at a greater risk for health complications due to extreme heat. Extreme heat has a negative effect on the aviation industry because planes are less efficient in hot temperatures. Many of the country’s busiest airports are in the Midwest.

The South:

Warming waters in the Gulf of Mexico will change fishing in the South. Recreational diving, particularly in areas like the Florida Keys, will feel pressured as warming water kills substantial amounts of coral. While there will be less coral and fish, there will be more poison ivy. Scientists expect the plant to become more populous and more toxic as CO2 levels rise.

Northeast:

The fishing industry in the Northeast will also be negatively affected by warming waters. Warmer weather and a higher frequency of heat waves also puts great stress on milk cows. Dairy farmers will see their cows producing less milk.

Cities and towns at low altitudes like New York City and Virginia Beach will likely lose land to rising tides. They are also increasingly vulnerable to damages from storm surges.

There is an argument to preserve industries that promote climate change, like the oil industry, to preserve jobs. The industries at risk from climate change could quite possibly cause more damage to the economy. I hope you started reading this fully aware of the moral reasons to fight climate change. I know you’ll finish this article with the economic reasons.


Lastly, climate change might not always be apparent, but it has undisputable consequences in your life. The ball is already rolling and many of the effects of climate change cannot be reversed anymore. But many can be. Don’t let these changes harm your region more.

Here is one way author Paulette Schuste suggests you can learn more about the impact of climate change: View the Climate Change Hot Map

Take Action Now: Environment