So just how hard will climate change hit the American economy?
A big step toward answering that question happened Tuesday, with the release of “Risky Business.” Put together by a research team headed up by the likes of former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, “Risky Business” is a sweeping analysis of climate change’s economic impacts on the United States, broken down by region and sector. The report came with some dramatic numbers, including hundreds of billions of dollars in possible coastal damage, looming drops of 50 percent or more to crop production, and a quadrupling of extreme heat days by the end of the century.
The Risky Business analysis admittedly leaves out a good deal. Future technological innovations and adaptations that could reduce the damage are inherently hard-to-impossible to anticipate, for instance. The “Risky Business” team attempted a few limited thought experiments to account for that, though they only modestly reduced the economic damage projected in the models.