Children cool off at the Grand Park splash pad in downtown Los Angeles, California on June 19, 2017, amid a Southern California heatwave with highs again forecast to hit triple-digits in some Los Anegels County communities. (Xinhua/AFP PHOTO)
WASHINGTON, June 29 (Xinhua) -- For every one degree Celsius increase in global temperatures, the U.S. economy will experience a 1.2 percent loss in its gross domestic product on average, a new study said Thursday.
Importantly, risk is distributed unequally across locations in the country, according to the study published in the U.S. journal Science.
States in the country's South and lower Midwest, which tend to be poor and hot already, will lose the most, with economic opportunity traveling northward and westward, it said.
Colder and richer counties along the northern border and in the Rockies could benefit the most as health, agriculture and energy costs are projected to improve.
By the late 21st century, the poorest third of counties could sustain economic damages costing as much as 20 percent of their income if warming proceeds unabated.
"Unmitigated climate change will be very expensive for huge regions of the United States," lead author Solomon Hsiang, associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a statement.
"If we continue on the current path, our analysis indicates it may result in the largest transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich in the country's history."
In a bid to settle the debate over whether climate change will help or hurt the U.S. economy, the new study used state-of-the-art statistical methods and 116 climate projections developed by scientists around the world to price the impacts of climate change.
The team of economists and climate scientists calculated how agriculture, crime, health, energy demand, labor and coastal communities will be affected by higher temperatures, changing rainfall, rising seas and intensifying hurricanes.
It estimated that average yields in agriculture will decline by about nine percent if emissions growth is not slowed.
"As recent actions by the current U.S. administration highlight, the pendulum for environmental protection can swing back and forth," William Pizer of the Duke University wrote in an accompanying perspective.