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TEXT OF INTERVIEW
MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued a much-anticipated report. Among other findings, it predicts that some types of plants and animals could become extinct over the next 50 years due to global warming. What are the economic impacts of these kinds of changes? That was the question I asked Gary Yohe, a professor of economics at Wesleyan University and one of the authors of the report.
GARY YOHE: The cost of migration and displacement, human lives at risk of hunger, of water scarcity, of coastal storms, ecosystems at risk of extinction — those things I think are best left in their own metrics. I know those answers are vague but this is a really hard question when you put people on the planet it gets really messy.
THOMAS: One of the other things the report touches on, the Southern part of the U.S., looking at low agricultural yields and droughts and animal and plant diseases, any idea what that could mean economically for the U.S.?
YOHE: Well for the U.S. there’s good news North. For the people who live in the South there’s not such great news. And that’s part of the difficulty. Impacts and adaptations and cost estimates of the risk of climate are very, very site specific and it really depends an enormous amount on access to resources, the distribution of the resources, the ability and willingness of institutions and decision makers and government to exercise the adaptive capacity that’s available. Adaptation is absolutely essential because there is already committed in the system, warming that would continue even if greenhouse gas emissions stopped tomorrow.
THOMAS: Gary Yohe is a Professor of Economics at Wesleyan University, also one of the authors of the UN report.
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