As the seas rise, so will the costs associated with them. The impact of climate change on oceans alone could cost $2 trillion by the end of the century, according to a report by the Stockholm Environment Institute in Sweden.
The report is part of a book, Valuing the Ocean, which is being compiled by the SEI for the UN’s Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June.
Its headline figure comes from a scenario in which Earth’s temperature rises 4 °C by 2100, which will have economic impacts on fisheries, tourism and coasts, as well as those associated with the oceans’ ability to absorb atmospheric carbon. If the temperature rise holds at 2 °C it could save as much as $1.4 trillion.
Report co-editor Kevin Noone of Stockholm University emphasises that the $2 trillion figure is not a worst-case scenario. It doesn’t count the cost of factors that aren’t easily quantifiable, such as the value of species which will go extinct when their habitats are lost.
The value of the oceans should not be underestimated. “Every second breath [of oxygen] we take comes from marine organisms,” Noone says.