Global warming may boost economic inequality

first_imgRising global temperatures have taken a disproportionate toll on poor countries in hotter parts of the world, including Nepal, where workers toil at a brick factory. As global temperatures have risen, some economies have wilted while others enjoyed an extra lift. The difference follows a geographic pattern, according to a new study: Hotter countries closer to the equator suffered, while cooler ones benefited. Global warming may boost economic inequality By Warren CornwallApr. 22, 2019 , 3:40 PM Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Narayan Maharjan/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Small economic damages can have outsize effects, because those in one year can ripple out to future years, Burke says. For instance, an agribusiness that lost money in a heat wave might invest less in equipment or research. “Even small changes in the growth rate compound over time and you can see big effects,” he says.Hsiang, who was the lead author of a 2017 paper that concluded the U.S. economy would lose approximately 1.2% of GDP with a 1°C increase in average temperatures, cautions against giving too much weight to the numbers, especially the apparent gains for cooler countries. The approach doesn’t confirm the results with “real world evidence that it actually happened,” he says.Burke acknowledges that more complete economic data could make for more certainty. But he defends the results as “the best possible interpretation of the data,” and says they could feed discussions about whether richer nations responsible for the lion’s share of historic emissions should compensate poorer nations for climate damage. And both Hsiang and the Stanford researchers agree on the need for more research on climate and inequality. One big question: Does warming exacerbate inequality within a country? In the new study, the duo of climate scientist Noah Diffenbaugh and economist Marshall Burke, both at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, used climate and economic models to tease out the economic impacts of climate change country by country, starting in 1961. Their model compared how each country performed in hotter and colder years, while accounting for other factors such as technological innovations and gyrations in the global economy. From each country’s response to temperatures, the modelers created two “worlds,” one reflecting actual global warming and another without greenhouse gas pollution.Comparing them showed that between 1961 and 2010, many countries near the equator, which are generally poorer, lost an average of more than 25% of potential growth in gross domestic product (GDP) because of global warming, the researchers report today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Many cooler, mostly wealthier countries, in contrast, enjoyed an economic bump of 20% or more, thanks to warmer weather. Since 1961, for example, Norway’s per capita GDP grew an extra 34%, while India lost almost the same amount. Noah S. Diffenbaugh; Marshall Burke Email Over the past half-century, climate change has been blamed for heat waves, flooding, and rising seas. Now, researchers say warmer temperatures are widening the chasm separating richer and poorer countries, effectively boosting the economies of many wealthy polluters while dampening growth in much of the developing world. As a result, inequality between the haves and have-nots is already 25% greater than it would be in a cooler world, the paper asserts.Though he disagrees about the numbers, University of California, Berkeley, economist Solomon Hsiang says the paper provides clear evidence that climate change has stunted economies in the developing world. “The study’s statement that warming should have already harmed economic opportunities in poor countries is extremely important,” he wrote in an email.The new work builds on previous research that found economic activity peaks at an average temperature of 13°C. Call it a “Goldilocks” condition that’s neither too hot nor too cold. Lower temperatures can hamper weather-dependent sectors like agriculture, but hotter temperatures can wither crops, sap workers’ energy, and exacerbate social conflicts. That study found that climate change could reduce overall global economic output by 23% by 2100.last_img

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