Hawaii & Alaska
Courtesy photo, LOC

Warmer weather will cost Alaska hundreds of millions of dollars annually, report says

The village of Newtok, surrounded by the Ninglick River, is losing land to erosion at a rate of about 70 feet per year. Long-term plans to relocate the village to Nelson Island have been aided lately by the completion of an environmental impact statement and a fresh infusion of federal funds. (Courtesy photo)

University of Alaska economists believe the impacts of climate change could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars per year in the coming decades.

The consequences of a warmer climate — from failing infrastructure to community relocation, increased wildfire frequency and shorter ice road seasons — are likely to be a net loss of $340 million to $700 million per year, according to a University of Alaska Anchorage Institute of Social and Economic Research report published this past November.

That report, Economic Effects of Climate Change in Alaska, focuses on the net costs of five widely reported effects over the next 30 to 50 years, a timeframe used for long range economic and infrastructure plans. Those costs would equal 0.6 to 1.3 percent of the state’s $51 billion GDP, but they would not be distributed evenly, “as rural communities face large projected costs while more southerly urban residents experience net gain,” the report states.

The projections are based Alaska’s annual average temperatures rising 1 to 2 degrees Celsius by 2050, as the U.S. National Climate Assessment published last year by the U.S. Global Research Program forecasts, with warming by up to 3 degrees Celsius statewide by the end of the century.

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