New Studies Say Climate Change May Bring More Bugs, Algae, and a 9% Drop in South Asian Economies

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The Tiger Mosquito, a common carrier of Dengue Fever
Source: Susan Ellis, “Closeup of the Adult Asian Tiger Mosquito (A. albopictus)”  galvbayinvasives.org, Aug. 31, 2010

climate change reports include predictions about possible economic and environmental effects of rising global temperatures.  New research shows the collective economies of South Asia may lose 9-24% of their annual gross domestic product (GDP) by 2100. Climate change could also increase the prevalence of pests such as ticks and mosquitoes that carry disease, make extreme weather more common, and harm wildlife habitats.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) used economic forecasting techniques to predict the effects of rising temperatures and sea levels on the economies of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. Assuming a 4.6º Celsius (8.28º Fahrenheit) rise in temperature, the study expects the collective economies of these six countries to experience a 1.8% reduction in GDP by 2050 and an 8.8% reduction by 2100, and possibly a decrease of 24% if temperature increases are more severe. According to the ADB report, “South Asia will need to spend at least $73 billion, or an average of 0.86% of its GDP every year between now and 2100 to adapt to climate change damage.” Many of these costs would come as a result of rising sea-levels. The assumed temperature rise would create a one meter rise in sea levels, which would necessitate large population movements and lead to increased outbreaks of diseases such as Dengue fever. 

William Yeatman, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, criticized the study’s conclusions in an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation: “Aside from the impossibility of projecting anything a hundred years into the future, there are countervailing reports and studies that suggest the exact opposite. It isn’t a two degree temperature increase over a hundred years that threatens the well-being of South Asia. It’s environmentalist policies.”

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) released a report on Aug. 19, 2014 predicting population surges of disease-carrying ticks and mosquitoes and more frequent blooms of blue green algae on lakes and ponds throughout the United States. Blue green algae can release toxins, cause rashes, respiratory problems, and allergic reactions, and even contaminate drinking water. The report also noted the earlier emergence of tiger mosquitoes in springtime and the higher toxicity levels on poison ivy plants due to increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Both organizations state in their reports that these potential effects can still be mitigated by reducing carbon emissions. The ADP notes that keeping the average global temperature rise to 2º Celsius (3.6º Fahrenheit), as proposed in the Copenhagen-Cancun agreements, would reduce the cost to South Asian economies from 8.8% to only 2.5% of GDP by 2100. The NWF encourages the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to exercise its authority to limit carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. They also recommend investment in “clean, wildlife-friendly energy,” and “climate-smart conservation approaches to help wildlife survive and adapt to a changing climate.”

Sources:

Mahfuz Ahmed and Suphachol Suphachalasai, “Assessing the Costs of Climate Change and Adaptation in South Asia,” adp.org, June 2014

Jonah Bennett, “Report: Accept International Climate Agreements to Save South Asia,” dailycaller.com, Aug. 19, 2014

“Climate Change May Slash 9% from South Asia’s Economy by 2100-Report,” adb.org, Aug. 19, 2014

Jeff Montgomery, “Climate Change Means More Bugs, Slimy Ponds,” usatoday.com, Aug. 19, 2014 

National Wildlife Federation, “Ticked Off, America’s Outdoor Experience and Climate Change,” nwf.org, Aug. 19, 2014