Global Warming and the American Economy

Global Warming and the American Economy

A Regional Assessment of Climate Change Impacts

New Horizons in Environmental Economics series

Edited by Robert Mendelsohn

The impact of climate change on seven regions of the United States is studied in this new and accessible collection. The study examines how the different regions of the United States may be affected by climate change. In particular, the study explores whether warming would be beneficial to the northern (colder) regions but harmful to the economies of the southern (warmer) regions.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Robert Mendelsohn and Joel B. Smith

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, climate change, environmental economics, environmental sociology


Robert Mendelsohn and Joel B. Smith This book contributes to the growing field of assessments of impacts of climate change by discussing the regional distribution of market effects of climate change across the United States. Although there are now several estimates of the national impacts of climate change, there are no quantitative regional estimates in the literature. If the country experiences a few degrees of warming, what will happen in each region? What difference will it make to each region if the change in climate turns out to be more substantial? Are the effects about the same for everyone or are some regions more vulnerable than others? These are the questions that this book seeks to answer. HISTORY In the 1980s, as interest in climate change increased, researchers set out to identify what types of impacts climate change might cause. The first comprehensive assessment of impacts in the United States was compiled in a US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study (Smith and Tirpak 1989). This assessment found that scenarios of 3° to 5°C average global warming could cause adverse impacts to agriculture, forestry, energy, water, coastal resources, health and biodiversity. Economists then used the EPA sectoral analyses and scattered other studies to value these impacts in the United States. After Nordhaus’s (1991) pathbreaking estimate came a series of analyses (for example, Cline 1992, Titus 1992, Fankhauser 1995, Tol 1995). These analyses were then captured in the second assessment recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in...