Katherine Bagley, InsideClimate News

The economic impact of the melting Arctic ice cap due to climate change could cost the world more than $60 trillion, nearly the size of the global economy in 2012, according to a team of British and Dutch researchers.

Most of the economic discussion regarding climate change and the Arctic has focused on new opportunities for resource extraction and commerce—as melting from global warming unlocks the ocean's vast deposits of oil and gas to drilling and opens new trade routes.

But the scientists, in research published this week in the journal Nature, said the cost of environmental and climate damage from the melting sea ice could far exceed any revenue from these new activities. The release of methane from thawing permafrost alone could cost the world $60 trillion, as countries are forced to deal with the ensuing extreme weather, health issues and lower agricultural production. Factoring in other impacts, such as ocean acidification, would likely raise the price tag even more.

The authors described the Arctic climate danger as an "economic time bomb."

"We calculate that the costs of a melting Arctic will be huge, because the region is pivotal to the functioning of Earth systems such as oceans and the climate," they wrote in the Nature article.

Read the article here, click on the arrows on the bottom left to view in full-screen:

 

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