Economic costs of ocean acidification: a look into the impacts on global shellfish production
Ocean acidification is increasingly recognized as a major global problem. Yet economic assessments of its effects are currently almost absent. Unlike most other marine organisms, mollusks, which have significant commercial value worldwide, have relatively solid scientific evidence of biological impact of acidification and allow us to make such an economic evaluation. By performing a partial-equilibrium analysis, we estimate global and regional economic costs of production loss of mollusks due to ocean acidification. Our results show that the costs for the world as a whole could be over 100 billion USD with an assumption of increasing demand of mollusks with expected income growths combined with a business-as-usual emission trend towards the year 2100. The major determinants of cost levels are the impacts on the Chinese production, which is dominant in the world, and the expected demand increase of mollusks in today’s developing countries, which include China, in accordance with their future income rise. Our results have direct implications for climate policy. Because the ocean acidifies faster than the atmosphere warms, the acidification effects on mollusks would raise the social cost of carbon more strongly than the estimated damage adds to the damage costs of climate change.
We are grateful to Frank Melzner from IFM-Geomar for helpful comments and to Siwa Msangi for the provision of IMPACT parameterization data. Alvaro Calzadilla offered us valuable suggestions on GDP projections. We thank Hanno Heitmann, Niko Mehl and Andreas Bernetzeder for research assistance, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions. Financial support by the German Research Foundation (the “Future Ocean” Cluster of Excellence program) is gratefully acknowledged.
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