Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Montana Faces the Devastating Economic Costs of Climate Inaction

Kayaker with view of Rocky Mountains (Credit: AP Photo/Matt Volz) Click to Enlarge.
Global warming could severely hamper the outdoor economy of the nature rich state of Montana, a new study by the state’s oldest conservation organization found. Thousands of jobs and about a billion dollars in earnings may be at jeopardy in the coming decades, the group found.

As many as 36,000 jobs and slightly over a billion dollars in labor earning could be lost in the next 35 years if greenhouse gas emissions don’t decline, according to the study commissioned by Montana Wildlife Federation.  The study looked at the potential impact of a 5 degree Fahrenheit increase on a wide array of recreational activities, from sports fishing and hunting to skiing and state parks, but found the greatest potential for job loss in cattle raising and agriculture.

The economic effect of climate change is substantial but may not represent the total cost on the state’s quality of life, the study’s author said.

“We were really conservative in our estimates,” Thomas Power, professor emeritus in the economics department at the University of Montana, told ThinkProgress, “although that number of jobs represents far more than any industrial operation in the state.”

Montana is known for its diverse terrain and having landmark spaces like the Rocky Mountains, the Great Plains, a portion of Yellowstone and the Glacier National Park, within its boundaries. Outdoor recreation in Montana is a major driver in the economy as it produces 64,000 jobs and $1.5 billion in wages a year, according to the Outdoor Industry Organization.

The report comes as some outdoor industries have been reporting revenue losses, according to Montana Wildlife Federation, and effects possibly associated with climate change are disrupting business models.  The state has been suffering from extreme weather events that an overwhelming number of scientists say could become more prevalent as the impacts manmade climate warming increase.

Montana’s recent fire season reportedly grew to be the second largest this decade.  The destructiveness of the fire season in the Big Sky Country added to a national problem as 2015 was the costliest fire season in the United States, ever.

Read more at Montana Faces the Devastating Economic Costs of Climate Inaction

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