Time to prepare for climate change, conference told

Climate change is coming, with tremendous economic impacts, so the best thing to do is to prepare for the changes, two researches told a business roundtable Tuesday.

University of South Carolina geography professor Greg Carbone, and Miley and Associates economist Harry Miley looked at the possible physical and economic impacts of climate change on South Carolina if nothing is done. They spoke Tuesday at the Climate and Business Roundtable sponsored by The S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce.

By 2100, the temperature will be hotter, sea levels will be significantly higher, and the economic disruption and cost to South Carolina will be enormous, they said.

Carbone said all the scientific evidence points to warmer temperatures and rising sea levels. If you take an average of the multiple predictions, Carbone said, temperatures in the state could be an average 5 degrees higher and sea level 22 inches higher by the end of this century.

Miley said he believes that, based on Carbone’s estimates, South Carolina would face billions of dollars in costs, such as:

· Sea walls to protect Charleston and the port.

· Road relocations.

· Lost and more expensive agriculture.

· Decreased tourism.

· Higher utility bills.

· Failed efforts to restore beaches.

· A dramatic drop in property taxes of devalued beachfront property.

Jackie Prince Roberts, director of sustainable technologies at the Environmental Defense Fund, discussed a market-based solution to carbon emissions, which she said are driving climate change.

Roberts stressed that the United States is already far behind China in development of renewable energy and new technology. However, she says there is still time for the United States to take a leadership role if a market-based energy solution, like the one supported by Sen. Lindsey Graham, is enacted.

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