Vtdigger.com reports Scott sees potential ‘economic boon’ in climate change .
At his Thursday news conference Governor Scott was asked about the climate change issue. “I’m not sure that there’s a financial threat” to Vermont as a result of climate change, Scott said. And he suggested that with California experiencing rampaging wildfires it makes Vermont look pretty good.
Governor Scott has quite a sunny view of what climate change will do for Vermont — it’s an opportunity, you see! This is kind of surprising as barely a couple days ago it was revealed that his administration was so loath to use the term “climate change” in a draft policy paper — a plan for the future development — that they edited the reference out.
But now Republican (Phil, not Rick of Fla.) Scott says, “Climate change could be in some ways beneficial to Vermont, when we’re seeing some of the activity in California today, with the wildfires and so forth, and lack of water in some regions of the country, if we protect our resources we could use this as an economic boon, in some respects,” Scott said.
A reporter asked whether Scott meant that if refugees fleeing wildfires and drought “have to relocate somewhere, they’d come to Vermont.”
“They’d come to Vermont, right,” Scott said.
What do you suppose those now “seeing some of the activity in California today […] wildfires and so forth, and lack of water” (also called having their homes destroyed and lives regularly threatened by massive wildfires) might feel about Scott’s remarks?
A recent study published by The Impact Lab titled, Estimating economic damage from climate change in the United States, and reported in the Atlantic.com — one of the first to apply regional economic models to climate change — found: Climate change will aggravate economic inequality in the United States, essentially transferring wealth from poor counties in the Southeast and the Midwest to well-off communities in the Northeast and on the coasts.
Other sections of the U.S. will suffer alarmingly according to the report: The loss of human life dwarfs all the other economic costs of climate change. Almost every county between El Paso, Texas, and Charlotte, North Carolina, could see their mortality rate rise by more than 20 people out of every 100,000. By comparison, car accidents killed about 11 Americans out of every 100,000 in 2015.
From his remarks it sounds possible that our Governor Scott is familiar with this paper. And perhaps if the study’s predictions prove reliable and you want to think only regionally there might even be some advantage for Vermont, for now. The study does note: If climate change continues unabated into the 22nd century, the North will likely eventually “flip over” into much higher temperatures and more severe economic damages.”
And critics of the study caution in the Atlantic.com about its predictions: But this emphasis on the observed [the impact study is modeled on previously observed data] means that the research omitted many serious risks of climate change — even those the researchers considered important — if the data describing them was too paltry. The estimates do not include “non-market goods” like the loss of biodiversity or natural splendor. In other words: Most people agree that dead polar bears have an economic cost, but there’s no consensus on how to approximate it.
The study also doesn’t account for the increased likelihood of “tail risks”—that is, unlikely events with catastrophic consequences. Many researchers believe that global warming will make social strife, mass migration, or global military calamity more likely, but those events are, by definition, hard to predict.
For now let’s everyone keep a sharp eye out to see how Phil Scott is directing his administration to plan for climate change [oops]. But it’s possible the Governor was just trying out a little blue-sky thinking at his Thursday press conference — you know, B.S. for short.