The rise of sea levels due to melting sea ice, as a result of climate change, could cost around $2 trillion US dollars. This is the result of a study by the Stockholm Environment Institute in Sweden.
By the end of the century the cost could skyrocket. The scenario made by the SEI is that the Earth´s temperature will rise by 4° by 2100. The report is part of a book, Valuing the Ocean, which is being compiled by the SEI for the UN's Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June.
The rise of the Earth´s temperature will have several economic impacts, for example on fisheries, tourism, as well as those associated with the oceans' ability to absorb atmospheric carbon. If the temperature rise holds at 2 °C it could save as much as $1.4 trillion.
Report co-editor Kevin Noone of Stockholm University emphasizes that the $2 trillion figure is not a worst-case scenario. It doesn't count the cost of factors that aren't easily quantifiable, such as the value of species which will go extinct when their habitats are lost.
The value of the oceans should not be underestimated. "Every second breath [of oxygen] we take comes from marine organisms," Noone says.