Climate Change

Water Economics

Los Angeles is one of the busiest cities in the world and is home to natural wonders such as the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains, not to mention Hollywood.  Many people dream of living in such a beautiful place. Yet, according to an article in Scientific American from  Matthew Kahn’s book Climatopolis, climate change is going to shift the competitive landscape of cities, and LA is going to take a hit.

Kahn argues that climate change is a reality and that people must adapt to a hotter future.  Computer models predict that Los Angeles County will be 13 degrees F warmer on average in July by 2070.  This means that water will become even scarcer in the region, which will boost demand and create major shortages.

lawn waterA sense of urgency and market pricing signals are key components of the awareness strategy that is vital in order to protect the citizens of LA and other cities against climate change and shortages, according to Kahn.  He goes on to explain that the current low water prices (less than one cent per gallon) in LA will exacerbate the water shortage, as people are less likely to reduce water usage when they lack incentive to do so.  Kahn suggests that the prices of water and electricity should reflect their true scarcity.

By reducing the supply of available water, climate change will create an imperative, forcing reluctant governments to recognize that water prices must reflect the basic fundamentals of supply and demand.  Already, California households are offered a variety of rebates for “green” appliances, including high-efficiency clothes washers and toilets, rotating sprinkler nozzles and irrigation controllers.  Although these rebates are beneficial, they are not enough according to Kahn, who suggests that rising water prices would trigger innovation and lead to scientific advancements in water conservation.

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