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Some Cities Will Thrive in a Warmer Climate

Samuel Staley
October 5, 2010, 2:29pm

UCLA economist Matthew Kahn has a new book out that examines the economic implications for cities if global warming forecasts are accurate. Climatopolis: How Our Citie Will Thrive in the Hotter Future is the first attempt I know of that provides a readable and accessible analysis of how cities might fare if temperatures continue to rise.

Not surprisingly, some will do well and others will not. Cities like Los Angeles and New York will face significant challenges that will effect their economic competitiveness, but for different reasons: Los Angeless will get much hotter and face water shortages while Manhattan will face severe flooding. The good news is that they will likely have the ability to adapt. The bad news (for New York, Los Angeles, and other climate warming challenged cities) is that cities like Salt Lake City and Fargo (ND) are likely to perform much better simply because of their geography.

Thus, global warming will challenge the competitiveness ranking of cities. How they adapt and cope to the warmer climate will determine their ability to remain healthy and vital.

Climate skeptics might be dismayed by Kahn's acceptance of the global warming mantra, but alarmists will be equally unhappy because he recognizes that global warming is a mixed bag. Some cities will lose and others will win. Moreover, Kahn's book is firmly grounded in the reality that we are highly unlikely to reduce carbon emissions to the level many climate scientistis say is necessay to stablize world temperatures (if you put stock in these models). So, this is a refreshingly pragmatic view of cities and their future if temperatures continue to rise.


Samuel Staley is Research Fellow


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