Story at a glance
- Climate change is already altering the landscape of the planet, both physically and economically.
- As the world contends with the consequences of worsening and increasingly common extreme weather events, experts warn of the future.
- A recent survey found a majority of economists believe "immediate and drastic" action is required to curb emissions.
Between freezing thunderstorms and dozens of tornadoes, extreme weather events have already devastated communities across the United States — and forecasters say that 2021 is just getting started.
The damage isn’t just physical, however, and economists are starting to get worried about the potential effect of climate change as its consequences play out.
"People who spend their careers studying our economy are in widespread agreement that climate change will be expensive, potentially devastatingly so," Peter Howard, economics director at the Institute for Policy Integrity, said in a statement to CNN.
Almost three-fourths of economists in a recent survey said that "immediate and drastic action is necessary" to address climate change, with nearly 80 percent reporting that their concerns have grown over the past five years. The survey of more than 2,000 Ph.D. economists is conducted annually by the Institute for Policy Integrity and the results show that the consensus is building that the cost of reaching net-zero emissions would likely outweigh the costs.
If not, a majority of economists agree that climate change will negatively affect global economic growth rates, exacerbate inequality between and within countries and cost trillions — reaching $1.7 trillion per year by 2025.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CLIMATE CHANGE RIGHT NOW