Scientists look at a warming Arctic and see a shift from white to green, as tundra gives way to new plant life.
Governments and corporations are also seeing green, as receding ice cover opens new shipping routes and opportunities to get at long-hidden natural resources.
But the downside of those opportunities is the risk that the current pace of climate change could be sped up dramatically by the release of long-trapped methane gas in the region’s permafrost — a risk to which a new study has attached an eye-popping price tag of $60 trillion in the next several decades, on top of previous estimates.
That’s trillion, with a “T,” a figure rivaling the entire globe’s economic output in 2012. And it’s a tab that’s far more likely to be paid by people living in the latitudes far below the Arctic Circle, said Gail Whiteman, a researcher at Erasmus University in the Netherlands. The developing nations of Asia and Africa face more risk of bigger storms, worse flooding and more intense droughts, she said.
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