You know how I talk about climate change making everything more expensive? I usually attribute that to actually having less stuff (run-off, hydropower, precip). But there’s also the fact that we’re optimized to the current climate. Changing that will be expensive. Those costs permeate everything.
Yesterday there was a story about installing new turbines at Hoover Dam, so they can continue to generate power when lake levels are low from drought. That’s a small, unexpected cost of $3.4M, that will help us keep the power generation we have now, not increase generation or improve our quality of life. Today there’s a story about changing ocean currents scouring more sand than they used to, so dredged materials aren’t enough to re-fill a local beach. It’d cost the local city $700,000 to replace that sand, but they don’t have it, so this year they only replenished half the beach. In this case, our quality of life is going down, by half a pretty beach’s worth. Not the end of the world, but we’re going to take these hits and feel these small costs in hundreds of ways. Increases in water and utility rates are just the blatant examples of the ways we’re getting poorer.
I saw an early presentation of this paper on how climate change will shift sands on SoCal beaches a couple years ago. It’s pretty neat.