Global Warming May Cost Brazil Up to US$ 2 Trillion a Year in 40 Years

Burned forest in Brazil Brazil will lose between US$ 417 billion (in an optimist scenario) and US$ 2 trillion of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per year by 2050 thanks to global warming. This means, in the worst scenario, the GDP might be reduced in 2.3% by the middle of the century.

This is one of the scary conclusions of a report just released by several Brazilian universities and the main specialists in climate and agriculture of the country. They worked for two years in a document that evaluates the possible impacts of the raising temperatures and climate instability. "It is like wasting a whole year of growth during the next 40 years", says the study.

Among their main conclusions:

* The temperature may rise 8°C (46.4°F) by 2100 in the Amazon region and it may undergo a radical transformation, becoming more like a savanna. The south, the southeast and the east parts of the basin might lose 40% of their forests.

* The Northeast of the country (including the states of Bahia and Pernambuco) are also very vulnerable. Agriculture and cattle farming will have important losses because of the lack of rains in a region that is already very arid.

* The hydro power dams – main responsible for the generation of electricity in the country – will be less reliable.

* Agriculture shouldn't have major problems in the southern states (including São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande do Sul).

* Soy, corn and coffee production will have to reduce their cultivated areas (34%, 15% and 18%, respectively), while sugar cane plantations will not decline.

* When the level of the oceans elevates and the weather gets more violent, the losses along the Brazilian coast should range from US$ 79 billion to US$ 120 billion.

The study stresses that the poorest regions of the country should be the most affected. It also lists a series of measures that could minimize those risks. Among them, incentives to alternative energies and carbon markets; investments in genetically improved plants, adapted to the growing droughts, and in improved irrigation techniques; and coastal management.

Besides the dark conclusions, the study is surprising because of the quality of the organizations involved. From Universidade de São Paulo and Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp) to the World Bank and a few non-profits, such as the brilliant Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia (Inpa). 

It is the final proof that climate change and the environmental matters really are attracting the attention they deserve.

Brazilian born, French citizen, married to an American, Regina Scharf is the ultimate globetrotter. She graduated in Biology and Journalism from USP (Universidade de São Paulo) and has worked for Folha de S. Paulo, Gazeta Mercantil and Veja magazine as well as Radio France Internationale. Since 2004 she has lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in the US. She authored or co-authored several books in Portuguese on environmental issues and was honored by the 2002 Reuters-IUCN Press award for Latin America and by the 2004 Prêmio Ethos. You can read more by her at Deep Brazil – www.deepbrazil.com.

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