Economic Impacts

Photo Credit: South County Independent/Michael Derr

Hitting Rhode Island in the Pocketbook

In a time when the American economy is in trouble, economic issues command a good deal of people’s actions and reactions, not to mention media headlines. They also pack equal power as central to people’s hopes and dreams for themselves and generations to come.

Destruction from Hurricane Sandy at Union Beach, NJ Photo Credit: FEMA Climate change not only figures into that equation, but also must, and going forward, will always be a part of it. What measures that are taken to combat climate change face another battle in convincing the general public — and as importantly, politicians — that any expense invested in mitigation of, or adaptation to, climate change is an efficient and necessary long-term investment in the economic health of society as a whole.

Remember, when you fight for investments to mitigate or adapt to climate change, you aren’t trying to justify the expense in the glow of ephemeral promises of a shiny, happy, future paradise; you are fighting for Let’s be clear. Mother Nature does not have any political affiliations. funding to sustain the health and welfare of all social classes but with a particular emphasis on the most vulnerable — children and the elderly. The “paradise” characterization is too often the spin that is emphasized by the naysayers. Let’s be clear. Mother Nature does not have any political affiliations. She only has the inexorable ability to shape our lives in myriad ways. Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Irene and Sandy are stern exemplars of Nature’s equal opportunity approach to ruining dreams and pocketbooks. Play Video Risky Business: The Economic Impacts of Climate Change in the US Risky Business: The Economic Impacts of Climate Change in the US The loss is enormous and goes beyond money: school time, health services, communityendeavors, spiritual support, a sense of safety, memories and the general sense of trust in well-being. All of these losses have a human and economic cost. Loss of school time leads to losses to the workforce. Psychological impacts cost in behavioral issues and related physical illnesses.

If we can’t show how jobs are created and businesses can adapt and thrive through knowing about climate change and adapting to its impacts, and how a vibrant economy and healthy environment serve young and old of varied financial means at all levels, we need to pack our suitcases and head for higher ground. But we are a resilient people and we can build this capacity into our planning for the future as well as our actions for today.

Challenges facing RI’s overall economy in the face of climate change (Adobe Acrobat)

Economic Impacts on Fisheries and Agriculture
Impacts on Manufacturing, Industry and Marine Trades
Impacts on Tourism and Hospitality
Impacts on Defense and Homeland Security

“Global warming is real and we are seeing significant impacts today. We must cut greenhouse gas emissions and move to energy efficiency and sustainable energy. If we move in that direction we can create, over a period of years, millions of good-paying jobs.”

– U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)



Damage from increasingly severe and more frequent storm events will cost billions of dollars in lost revenue and recovery costs. The total recovery expenditures for the state of New Jersey to rebuild following Hurricane Sandy are estimated to reach over $25 billion from 2012 to 2015.

On a global scale, “weird” and extreme weather events associated with climate change is already costing the world economy $1.2 trillion per year and the costs of climate change impacts are expected to escalate quickly; some projections anticipate that global GDP will be stunted by over 3% by 2030.

The insurance industry is one of the sectors most exposed to financial risks from climate change, and increasingly severe droughts and storms such as Sandy are motivating many insurance companies to consider climate change as a major economic threat and begin developing comprehensive plans to address projected impacts.

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Climate Change Collaborative

We hope you will find the information in the topic areas informational and instructive. We also welcome your feedback, which can be sent to the Climate Change Collaborative through the Tell Us What You Think page.

Positions expressed in referenced media or links to external websites do not necessarily reflect the position of the RI Climate Change Collaborative.

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