Climate Change Will Force People to Move. We Need to Find Out Where They’ll Go

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What explains this? Mostly it’s that if we can relocate economic activity away from more affected areas and toward more protected ones, we can attenuate the effect on the economy. The size of the benefit from migration, though, depends on two assumptions: First, migration is assumed to occur because of a gradual rise in sea level, easing the adjustment. For example, even though the principal results of the new analysis exclude physical capital, most buildings and factories depreciate over time and therefore need to be replaced even if sea level doesn’t rise. As the authors explain, “ … any substantial rise in sea level takes longer to materialize than the standard time it takes for capital and infrastructure to depreciate. As a result, the cost of capital destruction due to the permanent rise in sea level is likely to be relatively small.”

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