More evidence that adaptation is no panacea:
Residents of a small Alaskan village voted this week to relocate their entire community from a barrier island that has been steadily disappearing because of erosion and flooding attributed to climate change.
In the unofficial results of an election on Tuesday in the village, Shishmaref, residents voted 89 to 78 to leave. The plan would move the village, which is 120 miles north of Nome, to one of two sites on the mainland about five miles away, officials said. But the village needs an estimated $180 million from a patchwork of sources to complete the move, according to a 2004 estimate. ...
Shishmaref is not alone in facing a move because of the effects of climate change. In January, the federal government allocated $48 million to relocate Isle de Jean Charles, La., an island that is sinking into the sea. The effort earned the residents the title of the United States’ first “climate refugees.” As many as 200 million people could be displaced by 2050 because of climate change, according to a study for the British government. In Alaska, 31 villages face “imminent threat of destruction” from erosion and flooding, according to the Arctic Institute, a nonprofit group in Washington that studies issues affecting the Arctic.
There are about 400 residents of Isle de Jean Charles, LA. The cost of relocation is about $120,000 per resident. There are about 600 residents of Shishmaref and the cost of relocation is about $300,000 per resident (if, gulp, the 2004 estimate is still correct). Taking the midpoint and applying it to 200 million people, the relocation cost of climate change would be about $42 trillion by 2050. More optimistically, that is only $3.5 billion per day between now and then.
Here is something I said on May 3:
Climate change adaptation proponents (i.e., "serious economists") suggest that "the market" will reduce these costs. My thinking is that these potential costs should be part of the conversation instead of assumed to be mitigated to a large extent as a result of market forces.