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Canada Offers Lesson in the Economic Toll of Climate Change

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Canada’s wildfires have burned 20 million acres, blanketed Canadian and U.S. cities with smoke and raised health concerns on both sides of the border, with no end in sight. The toll on the Canadian economy is only beginning to sink in.

The fires have upended oil and gas operations, reduced available timber harvests, dampened the tourism industry and imposed uncounted costs on the national health system.

Those losses are emblematic of the pressure being felt more widely as countries around the world experience disaster after disaster caused by extreme weather, and they will only increase as the climate warms.

What long seemed a faraway concern has snapped into sharp relief in recent years, as billowing smoke has suffused vast areas of North America, floods have washed away neighborhoods, and heat waves have strained power grids. That incurs billions of dollars in costs, and also has longer-reverberating consequences, such as insurers withdrawing from markets prone to hurricanes and fires.

In some early studies of the economic impact of rising temperatures, Canada appeared to be…

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