Gary Yohe, the Huffington Foundation Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies, appeared on the RT show “Boom Bust” to discuss the impact of climate change on business and the economy. (Yohe’s interview begins at 3:45). He was asked what sectors of the economy are being affected the most by the forces of climate change.
“Agriculture comes to mind. It’s not just hurricanes and extreme precipitation events—although that seems to be happening along the East Coast. Any [real estate or] infrastructure that’s located near the coast line or near a river, for that matter, is in increasing vulnerability. But it’s more than that. It’s […] agriculture, suffering huge losses from drought. Farmers and cattle ranchers in Texas trying to figure out what to do with cows during their drought… People in California who are trying to figure out where the water is going to come from for very water-intensive crops that have sustained that part of the economy for a very, very long period of time. Industries typically have located, historically at least, along waterways and near coastlines because it makes transportation easier and it’s easier to get their products out, but those companies are realizing that over the short term, they have to protect their plants and their businesses. Over the long term, they have to move away from the water. That will be costly, but given enough time, it won’t be as costly as you might think.”
Yohe was also asked which areas of the U.S. are most susceptible to the effects of climate change.
“The whole Southeast coast. Go along the Gulf of Mexico down to Houston, Tx. Those places are increasingly vulnerable. For sure, Florida: it’s very low lying and it’s right in the way of many hurricanes and many very severe storms.” But even in places like Boston, Yohe said, sea level rise has meant that storm surges in two- or three-year storms look more like those once seen in 25-year storms.