Yes, you read the headline correctly. A new study published in the journal Nature looks at the potential impact the release of methane gas in the Arctic could have on the global economy over the next decade. The authors call the situation “an economic time bomb.”
Large amounts of methane hydrate exists in sediment underneath the Arctic seabed. The study assumes that global temperatures will rise at their current pace. And if they do, the methane hydrate will break down. If the greenhouse gas is released into the atmosphere, it could “speed up sea-ice retreat.”
In other words, the price for global inaction: $60 trillion. To put this number in context, the estimated value of the global economy last year was $70 trillion. However, these costs would not be evenly distributed. In fact, the study’s model shows that most of the costs would be inflicted on poorer countries.
“The extra methane magnifies flooding of low-lying areas, extreme heat stress, droughts and storms,” the authors write.
The study is available for free, and can be read here.