This week there were various sessions at Anchorage’s Alaska Forum on the Environment on climate change effects. One advantage mentioned during a food security session is that there very well be more arable land available to grow food on as permafrost melts. Albeit there will need to be examinations as to how the organic matter once frozen effects new plants.
An article in the Alaska Dispatch mentioned that there will be a downside to Alaskans though. It will cost more as the landscape changes to keep up with engineering concerns. It notes that a recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has aggregated what it thinks the costs will be to the public sector for repaired and new infrastructure from:
- flooding and precipitation
- permafrost changes
- freeze-thaw cycles and coastal erosion
They estimate the total cost of repairing public roads, pipelines, buildings, airports and rail lines at $5.5 billion by the end of the century. UAA has a report estimating the costs at $5.6-$7.6 billion. (This might be the time to become an engineer!)
There will benefits and costs to Alaska as patterns change. The studies didn’t look at the Pipeline, harbors and other private infrastructure. The question is always who will pony up for the bill?