SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- A review of more than 100 studies by two researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, has shown that the social and economic impacts of current climate are often severe.
Results of the review, by Tamma Carleton, a Ph.D. student in agricultural and resource economics, and Solomon Hsiang, chancellor' s associate professor of public policy, are published this week in the journal Science, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
"So much attention is focused on the future effects of climate change that hardships imposed by the climate today, which are often just as large, are ignored," Hsiang was quoted as saying in a news release from UC Berkeley in northern California. "If we solve these problems today, we' ll benefit everyone, both in this generation and the next."
Leveraging what they say has been an explosion of data unleashed by advances in computing, climate data and statistical analyses, the authors looked at current climate impacts on economy, agriculture, trade, energy, violence, migration and more, subsequently predicting, for example, that high temperatures currently drive up rates of civil conflict in sub-Saharan Africa by 29 percent and slow the growth rate of the global economy by 0.25 percentage points per year.
"People get so used to hot days, since they happen all the time, that they never stop to consider what those days are costing them," Hsiang lamented. "But if people use different technologies or organize their lives differently to adapt to their climate, then we might be able to do dramatically better."
The two researchers, who worked together at the Global Policy Lab at UC Berkeley' s Goldman School of Public Policy, note in their review the importance of sorting out the causes and possible solutions to "adaptation gaps," where populations don't make adjustments to protect themselves from the harmful impacts of climate change.
"The failure to adapt could represent intelligent decision-making, if the costs of implementing changes are very high, or they could simply indicate persistently poor judgment," said Carleton. And figuring out which is the case is a trillion-dollar question.