Climate Change Economics

An Altered South Florida

The coast would be radically changed by five feet of sea-level rise in 2100, as shown here. This projection is on the high end of the plausible scenarios—though not the highest—under consideration by multiple agencies planning for Florida’s future.

Florida in 2100

A Shrinking Coastline

If sea levels rise five feet, nearly one million of the current homes near the coast will be below the average day’s high tide.
   Other structures at risk include 7 power plants, 26 hospitals, 213 schools, and 32 sewage plants.
   In total, some $390 billion worth of property could be damaged or lost—a sum fives times as great as Florida’s state budget.


Storm surges—the quick rise of sea level caused by heavy winds—will be significantly more damaging by 2100, climate scientists predict. They’re often the biggest threat to life and property.

*Includes residential, commercial, and public facilities (in 2012 dollars)

**Includes Miami, Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, and Hialeah. Sources: Climate Central; South Florida Water Management District

Florida in 2100

Extreme Heat

Temperature swings will become more volatile by century’s end, climate scientists say. Residents of the southeastern United States currently endure about eight days of temperatures at or above 95°F every year. By 2100 they could face an additional 48 to 130 days. Changes in Florida’s rainfall patterns “are one of the big unknowns,” says Leonard Berry, a geoscientist at Florida Atlantic University.

Electricity Costs
Data from a Tufts University study indicate that electricity costs could jump $90 a year per person for each degree of temperature rise over Florida’s current seasonal averages. That would be an extra three billion dollars a year for each degree of warming by 2100.

Climate vs. Weather

A small increase in average temperature can multiply the risk of extreme events many times over—making for longer and more intense heat waves, droughts, and wildfires.

*Relative to annual average, 1986-2005

Source: NCAR GIS Program (statistical downscaling of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change fifth assessment RCP 6.0 scenario, CCSM4)

The Economic Toll

Threatened Industries

The effects of climate change on the state’s major industries will be felt nationwide. Florida was the fourth largest contributor to the U.S. economy in 2013.

Two key agricultural crops in Florida, oranges and sugarcane, were worth $952 million and $677 million respectively in the 2012-13 growing season.
Some 94 million tourists visited in 2013; together with in-state tourists, they spent $76 billion.
$65.6 billion worth of housing has been built in Florida since the U.S. housing bubble burst in 2008. The state is now the eighth fastest growing in the nation.

Eroding Beaches

More than half of Florida’s 825 miles of beaches are already eroding. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent $150 million in 2013 replenishing just 39 miles of sandy shoreline.

*Revenue includes entire county

Sources: USGS; USDA; U.S. Census Bureau; County Governments; Julie Harrington, Florida State University

Maps and graphics by Ryan Morris, Alexander Stegmaier, and John Tomanio. Sources: Climate Central; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; NOAA