According to a study published in the scientific journal Nature (and summarized in Time), if climate change continues unchecked, the global average income will be 23% lower in 2100 than it is now. The researchers, Marshall Burke of Stanford University, and Solomon Hsiang and Edward Miguel, both of UC Berkeley, relied on global historical data of how temperature increase has affected productivity. They did not factor in other events that might hasten climate change, such as super storm activity or sea level rise, meaning despite their study’s dire predictions, their research might very well be an underestimation of the threat to the worldwide economy.
The study examines productivity in agricultural and non-agricultural fields. The effects of major temperature changes on crops is more apparent and has been studied extensively, but it’s still unclear why increasing temperatures lessen productivity in other industries. The study also shows that temperature increases don’t affect all regions evenly, increasing productivity in some areas while devastating others—this could lead to greater global financial inequality.
This publication comes just weeks before the UN climate conference in Paris. In an editorial he wrote to accompany the paper, University of Gothenburg Professor Thomas Sterner urged world leaders, particularly those in developing countries, to consider economic research like this as a call to action.
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