Reducing our contribution to global warming may be expensive. The actual global warming, however, is likely to be much more expensive.
In support of that last claim is a new report that is the most definitive look to date at the economic impacts of climate change on Washington. (There’s a shorter one for Oregon (pdf), published in 2005.)
I thought this lede from the Seattle Times was a great summary:
A warming climate could cost Washington governments and businesses tens of millions of dollars every year in drought-stricken crops, forest fires and tightened water supplies, according to a new state study.
It is the first such analysis illuminating how rising temperatures and shifting snow patterns could ripple through the economy.
Yakima Valley farmers could experience more crop losses as snowpack declines. Forest fires could double in size, driving up the costs of fighting them and hurting tourism. Dairies in Whatcom County might produce less milk. Cities, including Seattle, could spend millions more on water conservation or expand their water-storage dams. More than 50 square miles of Washington land could wind up underwater if sea levels rise two feet.