Concerned About Jobs? Then You Should Be Concerned About Climate Change, Too -- Here's Why
Continued from previous page
Construction workers. The rise in sea level will threaten real estate along the coast and increasing wildfires will affect the entire state. California has over $900 billion in "near shore" homes at risk from water damage; in a do-nothing scenario housing prices along the coast are likely to plummet. The state has five million homes worth $1.6 billion, 40% of all homes, with high or greater fire risk. Adding fire and flood risks, $2.5 trillion of California's $4 trillion in real estate assets are exposed to climate risk.
The result of this risk is likely to be a sharp increase in insurance premiums and a long-term fall in real estate values, especially in high-risk locations. Areas threatened by flood and fire could become unbuildable. Water shortages could lead to additional restrictions on building. The consequences could range from new construction jobs to house the displaced to massive disinvestment followed by long-term depression in the construction industry. The impact on building trades jobs could be devastating. At the least, climate change is likely to lead to massive relocation of construction work, forcing building trades workers to migrate.
Health care workers: Climate warming is producing an increase in the number, length, and severity of deadly heat waves, increasing the incidence of strokes, heart attacks, and severe dehydration. One study predicts up to four times as many heat-related deaths in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Sacramento, and Fresno in a do-nothing scenario. Another predicts 600 or more extra heat-related deaths per year in Los Angeles County alone. An 80% increase in high ozone days will multiply respiratory diseases like asthma. Increasing forest fires increase the deadly pollutant PM2.5, fine particulates that are responsible for most of California's pollution deaths.
In a do-nothing scenario, hospitalizations and other results of climate-induced ozone and heat waves will cost $24 billion a year. All this will put huge stress on an already stressed healthcare system at the same time that the broader negative economic impacts of climate change are likely to put pressure on health care funding.
Farm and agro-processing workers: Climate change will make water scarce and more costly, spread pests like the Mediterranean fruit fly and the bollworm, increase plant-and-animal killing heat spells, reduce winter chilly spells many plants need, and raise the price of fuel and fertilizer. The record July, 2006 heat wave led to a billion dollar loss for California's dairy industry. In one estimate, climate change will reduce California's agricultural profits by 15%. Climate change will also lead to big shifts in crops and locations. Both downsizing and crop change may lead to substantial reductions in farm worker employment. Heat waves and increased pollution will make farm labor jobs even unhealthier. Climate-caused disruption in other countries will increase immigration to California, increasing the number of farm workers competing for jobs and thereby driving down wages and making it even harder for farm workers to unionize.
Port and airline workers: Sea level rise, storms, and waves will threaten California's seaports and airports. Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland seaports handle 40 percent of US container shipping and nearly a quarter of all foreign trade. Rising sea levels with high waves and tides are likely to damage port facilities. Port infrastructure has several hundred billion dollars of real asset exposure to changes in sea level, tides, and wave action.
San Francisco International Airport is 13 feet above mean sea level. Oakland International airport is nine feet about mean sea level. Both would be vulnerable to inundation from a rise in sea level. Crippled seaports and airports unable to support normal traffic would mean fewer jobs for port and airline workers.