To be frank, the United States has enough trouble of its own where climate change is concerned. Major hurricanes have hit Florida, Texas, and Puerto Rico, wildfires have ravaged Southern California, and people everywhere are being affected by droughts and rising temperatures. But on top of that, Americans also have to worry about the ripple effects stemming from climate issues elsewhere. For example, according to Science Daily, there’s a good chance that increased flooding in China will have an indirect impact on the economy in the U.S.
A study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) shed more light on this issue. If China doesn’t take tangible action to adapt to climate change in the near future, economic damage from flooding is likely to increase by 80 percent within the next 20 years. This would bring significant adversity for other countries that rely on trade with China, including several EU nations as well as the United States.
“Not only local industries will be affected by these climate impacts,” said Sven Willner, the study’s lead author. “Through supply shortages, changes in demand and associated price signals, economic losses might be down-streamed along the global trade and supply network affecting other economies on a global scale. We were surprised about the size of this rather worrying effect.”
The broader point to take away from all of this, Willner explained, is that natural disasters can no longer be treated as local events. Everything has long-lasting ripple effects that must be taken seriously. The study makes it clear that in the 21st century, governments will need to devise global risk assessment strategies, assessing all the perils that might impact them economically, including climate change and other issues.
Of course, the United States is far from drawing up any such strategies. Under the current administration, the government is being run by a cabal of climate change deniers—and furthermore, a caustic trade war between the U.S. and China is making it far more difficult for Americans to roll with the punches economically. The key to surviving a tumultuous climate is staying flexible and keeping one’s options open in global trade; at the moment, America is taking precisely the opposite approach.
Photo: Flooding in Jiujiang City, China in June 2016. Credit: humphery / Shutterstock.com