An Economic Analysis of Climate Change in Long Island Sound | Connecticut Public Radio
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An Economic Analysis of Climate Change in Long Island Sound

Mar 3, 2015

The report recommends Connecticut do more to reduce polluted stormwater runoff.

High levels of carbon dioxide are putting creatures in Long Island Sound at risk. That's the finding of a new study examining the economic impact of climate change on our shoreline.

Here's the basic chemistry: atmospheric carbon dioxide -- the stuff that gets pumped out of cars and power plants -- can dissolve into our oceans. And when it does, it bumps up acidity, and decreases oxygen levels. Those changes can make it hard for animals like shellfish to survive.

A new study by the National Resources Defense Council is quantifying that risk in numbers. The NRDC said shellfish harvests have accounted for $17.3 million in annual state commerce over the past 10 years -- money that could be lost, if rising CO2 levels aren't addressed.

Writing in the journal Nature: Climate Change, the NRDC and scientists from nearly a dozen additional institutions say Connecticut is at "high risk" for economic harm in the years to come. According to the report, changes in ocean chemistry have already brought nearly $110 million in economic losses to the Pacific Northwest.

In the near-term, the report recommends Connecticut do more to reduce polluted stormwater runoff. It also says biologists at a federal fisheries lab in Milford should selectively breed shellfish that are more resistant to changes brought on by climate change.