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Study: Climate Change Will Shift Economic Opportunity Away From The Midwest

Jul 11, 2017

Credit energy.gov

Climate change will make the United States poorer and more unequal, according to a new study published in the journal Science.

The study shows climate change will force people and assets to move away from the nation's hottest regions into more temperate areas, which means economic inequality will increase as the planet warms. A team of researchers from the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Chicago and Rutgers University conducted the study that looked at how agriculture, energy demand and other indicators would be affected by higher temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and rising seas. Rutgers University professor Robert Kopp is co-author of the study.  Kopp says if efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fail, the poorest third of American counties could lose up to 20 percent of their income, because economic opportunity will shift to the North and West, where colder and richer counties are better able to adapt to temperature increases.

The researchers project for each one-degree Fahrenheit increase in global temperatures, the U.S. economy could lose nearly one-percent of its Gross Domestic Product output. Kopp says the team tapped data from 116 climate projections to calculate real-world costs and benefits.