NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Benefits Of A Milder Winter

September 8, 1999

Last year's El Niño weather pattern produced an exceptionally mild winter in the northern United States and blocked Atlantic Coast hurricanes, says a study in the September 1999 Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. As a result, hundreds of lives were saved and the economy benefited.

  • Overall, the 1997-1998 El Niño can be blamed for 189 deaths -- but it saved nearly 850 lives that would otherwise have been lost says Stanley A. Changnon, a leading climatologist.
  • And its $4.2 billion to $4.5 billion in damage is far outweighed by nearly $20 billion in benefits from such things as reduced heating fuel costs.

Interestingly, some climatologists say that if global warming occurs, it will cause milder winters and the economic benefits and lifesaving effects will outweigh potential costs.

Source: "El Niño Was Beneficial to Economy, Study Says," Dallas Morning News, September 2, 1999.

 

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