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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

June 18, 2009 at 10:16 AM

Starting to count the cost of climate change in the Northwest

Top of the News: Back in the reality based community, the U.S. Global Change Research Council, pooling the work of 13 federal agencies, has released the most comprehensive report yet on the consequences of climate change. It’s must reading for anyone who wants to understand the costs — economic, social, national security, health and environmental — of global warming.

Obviously the southern half of the nation will be very hard hit. Good luck with that real estate in Phoenix or NCR’s stab in the back of Dayton, Ohio, to move to the exurbs of ever-hotter and pestilential Atlanta. But the Northwest is far from immune.

The report notes that temperatures have already risen in the region and will likely rise more — especially if the world doesn’t reduce greenhouse emissions. Other concerns include sea-level rise, greater stress on salmon and other fish, more dead zones in the oceans and declining springtime snowpack, adding stress on water supplies. Oh, and spring rain will significantly fall off — that couldn’t happen, could it?

Another consequence, which other reports have mentioned in more detail, is the likelihood of climate refugees heading north. But the unstated repercussion is how climate change adds further difficulty in trying to restart an unsustainable economy based on house-building far from existing urban areas, dispersed employment without transit and long, single-occupancy automobile trips.

It doesn’t mean we won’t try to restart it, whatever the cost, instead of allocating resources in a Great Transition to offset the Great Disruption of which climate change is a part.

Oh, yeah, global warming is a “hoax.”

You can download the entire report here.

The Back Story: The four-week moving average of jobless claims — a better yardstick than the weekly stats — fell to its lowest level since February. The total number of people on unemployment insurance also dropped.

Now before you flame me for being a mindless cheerleader (it offsets the “doomer” criticisms), I’m not saying this means the labor market is anywhere near recovery. That’s a whole other scary conversation: That many jobs may never return and others will take years to come back. It is more evidence that the nearly unprecedented pace of job losses of late 2008 and early 2009 have moderated.

And, as I have written before, this is all dependent on no further shocks, including more shoes dropping out of the bankers’ closet.

Today’s Econ Haiku:

Better be good boots

Because now Eddie faces

The climb of his life

Comments | More in Jobs/Unemployment, Sustainability


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