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The economic cost of greenhouse-induced sea-level rise for developed property in the United States

Abstract

Estimates of the true economic cost that might be attributed to greenhouse-induced sea-level rise on the developed coastline of the United States are offered for the range of trajectories that is now thought to be most likely. Along a 50-cm sea level rise trajectory (through 2100), for example, transient costs in 2065 (a year frequently anticipated for doubling of greenhouse-gas concentrations) are estimated to be roughly $70 million (undiscounted, but measured in constant 1990$). More generally and carefully cast in the appropriate context of protection decisions for developed property, the results reported here are nearly an order of magnitude lower than estimates published prior to 1994. They are based upon a calculus that reflects rising values for coastal property as the future unfolds, but also includes the cost-reducing potential of natural, market-based adaptation in anticipation of the threat of rising seas and/or the efficiency of discrete decisions to protect or not to protect small tracts of property that will be made when necessary and on the (then current) basis of their individual economic merit.

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This research was funded by the Electric Power Research Institute as part of its impacts assessment program. Notwithstanding that support, the opinions expressed here and responsibility for any errors reside with the authors. The authors express their appreciation for comments offered on earlier drafts by Rick Freeman, Rob Mendelsohn, Joel Smith, Tom Wilson, Jim Titus, Robert Chen and the Snowmass Workshop on the Impacts of Global Change. If we may, we would also like to dedicate this paper to the memory of Dr. James Broadus from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. His untimely death was, indeed, tragic; and we miss both his company and his flawless contribution to this and other work.

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Yohe, G., Neumann, J., Marshall, P. et al. The economic cost of greenhouse-induced sea-level rise for developed property in the United States. Climatic Change 32, 387–410 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00140353

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00140353

Keywords

  • United States
  • Economic Cost
  • Discrete Decision
  • Develop Property
  • Small Tract