Report Estimates Warming’s Toll on Alaska
By Lori Townsend, APRN
ANCHORAGE, AK (2007-02-14) A University of Alaska think tank provided a glimpse of a report today that for the first time calculates the cost of maintaining Alaska’s public infrastructure in a changing climate. © Copyright 2007, APRN
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The report was finally published (notice from WHAT’S UP – July 4, 2007 – Compiled Weekly by Peg Tileston on behalf of the Alaska Women’s Environmental Network (AWEN), Alaska Center for the Environment (ACE), and Alaska Conservation Alliance (ACA). View list information and archives, visit
There hasn’t previously been a chance to review the report. From the news accounts it doesn’t sound like they included an estimate for all the previous decade’s worth of projects which must be re-built or which should never have been built, had the state listened to those of us that suggested climate change should be factored into state and federal funded development. I tried nearly 10 years ago to get rural landfill permitting to include such evaluation. It was obvious, too obvious, then that environmental change had affected roads, dumps, airports, barge landings, fuel depots, schools, sewage lagoons, new and old housing, etc., etc. The state didn’t think global warming was real and anyway, as a state employee, I was too thoughtful.
It is unlikely the model is an estimate of total costs, but rather the easier calculation of dollars (cash) expenditures. However, each community could start now to do a total cost analysis (for the next 10 and 50 years). It can be done without itself costing much money.
HOW MUCH MIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE ADD TO FUTURE COSTS FOR PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE? is the latest report from the Institute for Social & Economic Research (ISER). Scientists expect Alaska’s climate to get warmer over time—and the changing climate could make it roughly 10% to 20% more expensive to build and maintain public infrastructure in Alaska between now and 2030 and 10% more expensive between now and 2080. These are preliminary estimates of how much climate warming could increase the future costs for roads, harbors, schools, the power grid, sewer systems, and all the other public infrastructure that keeps Alaska functioning. A warming climate will damage Alaska’s infrastructure—and make it more expensive to maintain and replace—because that infrastructure was designed for a cold climate. These preliminary estimates of how much infrastructure costs might increase are from a model ISER researchers developed with help from faculty at UAA’s School of Engineering and the University of Colorado. Even without climate change, the costs of maintaining and replacing federal, state, and local infrastructure in Alaska are considerable—an estimated $32 billion between now and 2030 and $56 billion between now and 2080. Damage from climate change could add $3.6 billion to $6.1 billion to infrastructure costs between now and 2030 and $5.6 billion to $7.6 billion between now and 2080, depending on the level of climate change and assuming that government agencies adapt infrastructure to changing conditions.
Unfortunately, everything is in pdf format from
- “Estimating Future Costs for Alaska Public Infrastructure At Risk from Climate Change” http://www.iser.uaa.alaska.edu/Home/ResearchAreas/climatechange.htm