Project Report:
Climate Cost Data and Documentary Project
- Investigates the causes of economic imbalances.
- Investigates causes tending to destroy or impair the free-market system.
- Explores and develops market-based solutions.


The Climate Cost Project is a data and documentary project to help uncover, understand, and visualize the costs of climate change to American communities. It accomplishes this through the Witnessing Change Video Competition and the Climate Impact Census. The project’s goal is to focus attention toward the local and the present, with multimedia testimony and imagery that illustrate how climate change is already shaping the lives of Americans, and crowdsourced data on economic costs. The project sheds a light on the climate changes that are happing in the United States now, and aims to motivate communities to take positive action to build resilience and mitigate the effects of climate change.



The Witnessing Change Video Competition challenges student and adult documentarians to create a personal and visual record of the way climate change is already impacting their communities. Participants tell the stories of local climate change in short video format. Winners receive cash prizes.

Over the upcoming years, Witnessing Change documentarians will help people in affected communities and around the country learn about the current effects of climate change, and allow them to share their experiences with the world.

You can watch the 2017 winning videos on our Facebook page, on Lyme Disease (college winner) and Skiing in the Adirondacks (high schools winner


At present, there is little information on how climate impacts are financially affecting cities and the American public. Cost data is limited to impersonal aggregate statistics on natural disasters from government expenditures and insurance data. These exclude many costs, from out of pocket health expenses on climate-related illnesses and extreme weather events, to uninsured damages from natural disasters, to municipal expenditures on water systems, public health, and infrastructure.

The Climate Impact Census (CIC) will create a data and anecdotal record to document these costs, to increase public awareness of them, and to enhance the ability of cities to understand, manage, communicate about, and adapt to the changes they are experiencing. The Climate Cost Project is working with stakeholders to make sure the CIC will engage individuals and cities to participate in sharing their stories, data, and photos, make these resources easy to access, and generate high-quality data visualizations from them.

Frame shot movie Lyme Disease Video Winner
Frame from winning college student video. The student spends $2,000 a month on medical costs from the disease.


The project focuses on getting estimates for externalities of carbon pollution through collecting data on the economic costs of climate change. These costs impact the productivity and functioning of the market economy in multiple ways, including damages to natural, social, and physical capital stocks; strains on local, state, and federal budgets through disaster relief needs; potential civil unrest and social dislocation (e.g. through increased food prices, displaced workers, migration); supply chain interferences; and health care costs. These un-priced carbon externalities artificially subsidize high polluting energy sources. In terms of exploring and developing market-based solutions to climate change, estimates of climate costs gathered through this project can be used both in research and advocacy to inform appropriate carbon tax levels, which are currently considered to be significantly underestimated by most experts.


The scope is national.

Project Link

Amount Approved
$35,000.00 on 4/25/2017 (Check sent: 5/11/2017)

Logo Climate Cost Project

Logo Climate Cost Project
Frame shot movie Lyme Disease Video Winner

1350 Broadway, Suite 201
New York, NY 10018


(212) 290-8200 ext 307


Laurie T Johnson
Director, Citizen Climate Cost Project, Open Space Institute, Inc.

Posted 4/7/2017 9:24 AM
Updated   12/19/2017 2:33 PM

  • Nonprofit

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