Scientists warn: Melting Arctic is a ticking economic time bomb

The rapidly melting Arctic is an “economic time bomb” likely to cost the world at least $60 trillion, say researchers who have started to calculate the financial consequences of one of the world’s fastest changing climates.

A record decline in Arctic sea ice has been widely seen as economically beneficial until now, as it opens up more shipping and drilling in a region thought to contain 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered gas and 13 percent of its undiscovered oil.

However, the Arctic’s pivotal role in regulating the oceans and climate means that as it melts it is likely to cause climatic changes that will damage crops, flood properties and wreck infrastructure around the world, according to research by academics at the UK’s University of Cambridge and Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

This is likely to end up creating costs that will outstrip any benefits by three or more orders of magnitude, said Chris Hope of Cambridge’s Judge Business School.