Let’s imagine a truly horrific scenario for what a warming planet might do to the United States (these are unrealistic). Imagine that a rapidly warming planet so destroys our natural industries that they lose 50% of their value. In other words, let’s imagine that agriculture, forestry, farming, fishing, hunting, wood-product and paper-product manufacturing, and all oil and gas extraction and related activities lose 50% of their value. By how much would this hurt the US economy? Would it send us into the next Depression?
Well, not exactly. Under a 50% loss scenario we’d lose 1.6% of GDP per year, every year. Would a warming world make it harder to mine for oil and gas? I don’t imagine so. So what happens to these calculations if we assume that mining industries for oil and gas are neither hurt nor benefit from warming? How about 0.74% of GDP every year or just north of $100 billion per year. And this still assumes that warming will destroy half of these natural resource industries. Sure, warming will hit other ones, but it clearly will benefit some others too — so these stats are not likely to be very far off.
Now ponder for a moment that the deadweight loss of taxation (not the cost of collecting it, but the distortions and loss in GDP because of the inefficient way we collect them) is easily ten times this amount. Or consider that these losses, if they occur, are not likely to happen suddenly. You can pick your own favorite data to compare this to. I’ll say it again, one need not be a skeptic of global warming science at all in order to be not completely alarmed by what may come for the US. Now, what may come for other places may indeed be worse, but so too is the possibility that none of us have any clue what we are talking about. I admit that on my end.