For many locations on the planet, global warming may mark the end of winter sports, tourism, and recreation. Glaciers are already disappearing throughout the Alps, and resorts throughout Europe and the United States are worried about their future. There are good reasons for their concerns, because scientists have predicted that warmer temperatures and related climate changes could mean the end of reliable snow at resorts situated below altitudes of about 5,000 feet (1,500m) by the year 2050. And even if snowmaking equipment is deployed, many of these resorts will not be able to survive. In fact, even famous ski resorts such as Aspen, Colorado, may be put out of business. By the middle of the century, according to some reports, springtime snowpack in the Rocky Mountains is expected to decrease by 37 percent and as much as 80 percent in the Southwest. And in New Hampshire, some experts predict that the number of ski days will be reduced by 10 to 20 percent. The global ski industry today is estimated at about $4 billion, so the economic losses from these changes could easily run into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
while at the same time recharging their economies by investing in new technologies and energy-saving policies.
In one scenario envisioned by the IPCC, for example, the world would experience "very rapid economic growth, low global population growth that peaks in mid-century and declines thereafter, and the rapid introduction of new and more efficient technologies."52 If this direction prevails, the IPCC predicts that the global economy would grow at 3.5 percent per year, giving the world a $550 trillion global economy in the year 2100, more than twice the size of the economy that would result from not taking strong action to stop climate change. As the UN Foundation explained in a February 2007 report:
Significant harm from climate change is already occurring, and further damages are a certainty. The challenge now is to keep climate change from becoming a catastrophe. There is still a good chance of succeeding in this, and of doing so by means that create economic opportunities that are greater than the costs and that advance rather than impede other societal goals.53
A similar conclusion was reached in a 2007 report by the British investment bank Barclays Capital. The report takes the view that focusing on how much climate change is going to cost us is the wrong approach. Instead, the report predicts that the need to find replacements for fossil fuels over the next twenty-five years will result in an "energy revolution" that will "prove highly stimulatory for the global economy."54 As the report's author, Tim Bond, explains: "We've seen throughout history that wherever an economy adopts a new general purpose technology there has been no circumstance where it has had a negative effect on growth. The shift from hydrocarbons to alternatives should be seen in these terms."55 If these optimistic projections are correct, mitigating and adapting to climate change may turn out to be the best possible way to boost the global economy.
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