A Warming Arctic To Have Climate Impact 27 Times The GDP Of India
The study shows how destabilised natural systems will worsen the problem caused by man-made emissions, making it more difficult and expensive to solve.
There were warnings all over the place: Climate change will shrink the glaciers, swell the seas, bring about heatwaves, wildfires and drought. Thanks to this study, we now know how expensive all of that could be.
The release of carbon dioxide and methane from melting permafrost, coupled with a reduced albedo—a measure of how much light that hits a surface is reflected without being absorbed—will have a $70 trillion impact on the world economy, a study published in the journal Nature Communications said.
That is 27 times the total GDP of India.
Permafrost is any type permanently frozen layer of soil, sediment or rock for a minimum of two years and is mostly found in the Arctic region. Its thickness can range from 1 metre to as much as 1,000 metres and covers at least a quarter of the Northern Hemisphere. Which basically means that its melting could cause devastating effects.
The Arctic region is warming twice as fast as the global average. And the decrease in sea ice, snow and glaciers and permafrost degradation are the prime witnesses. These changes can accelerate global warming further through a variety of climatic feedbacks.
However, if countries fail to improve on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Paris Agreement commitments—to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius—there will be an increase of 5 per cent in the global warming.
And that will boost economic inequality, as argued by a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Between 1961 and 2010, many countries near the equator, which are generally poorer, lost an average of more than 25% of potential growth in gross domestic product (GDP) because of global warming.
“Many cooler, mostly wealthier countries, in contrast, enjoyed an economic bump of 20% or more, thanks to warmer weather,” the report said.
Since 1961, Norway’s per capita GDP grew an extra 34 per cent, while India lost almost the same amount.
"Arctic sea ice and land snow currently contribute around a third each to the global albedo feedback," said lead author Dmitry Yumashev.
"Even at 1.5C to 2C, there are impacts and costs due to thawing permafrost. But they are considerably lower for these scenarios compared to business as usual. We have the technology and policy instruments to limit the warming but we are not moving fast enough.”