New York – In advance of Earth Day, a new research brief from non-partisan public policy organization Demos sounds a wake up call for policymakers and voters: “The Economic and Environmental Impacts of Climate Change in Arizona” lays out how Arizonans’ health, economy, and environment are already suffering the effects of climate change and how continued inaction on climate change promises dire consequences in the coming decades.
Read “The Economic and Environmental Impacts of Climate Change in Arizona” here
As “The Economic and Environmental Impacts of Climate Change in Arizona” explains, temperatures in Arizona have already increased by almost two degrees in recent decades, more rapidly than any other state in the lower 48, and are projected to increase another three to five degrees in 2050. Leading climate research shows how, if unchecked, this climate change will put heavy pressures on the state’s public health, water supply, and economy-driving industries, including:
- Health: Heat-related fatalities will likely increase seven percent for every one degree increase in temperature. Moreover, ozone and smog concentrations will rise with higher air temperatures and growing energy use, which will increase asthma rates and health care costs.
- Water Supply: Runoff in the Colorado and other river systems that Arizona’s water supply depend on for direct use and for groundwater recharge will decline by 20-40 percent by mid-century, exacerbating water supply shortages that are already evident.
- Tourism: A substantial segment of Arizona’s economy is the extremely climate-sensitive travel and tourism industry. Increasing temperatures will make being outdoor uncomfortable and make Arizona a less attractive destination. Almost 37 million visitors in 2010 spent nearly $18 billion on a wide variety of goods and services, generating more than 150,000 jobs, nearly $5 billion in direct earnings, and $3.5 billion in state and local taxes.The report is authored by Robert Repetto, author of the 2011 book America’s Climate Problem: The Way Forward. He is a Senior Fellow in the United Nations Foundation’s climate and energy program. In the report, Repetto recommends focusing on growing the solar energy sector. He explains that Arizonan policymakers should support a regional or national policy that sets a price on carbon dioxide emissions, enabling solar power to compete in economic markets and encouraging this industry which will help combat global warming and grow Arizona’s economy.
“A serious commitment to combating climate change is the only way to spare Arizona’s state economy and natural environment the certain fate that’s beginning to be played out now,” explained Dr. Mijin Cha, Senior Policy Analyst at Demos. “When policies are being drafted, leaders must consider the real long-term environmental and economic impact our decision will have. Short-sighted planning has gotten Arizona where it is today, and it is not where it can afford to be tomorrow.”
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