In his recent Science article The Irreversible Momentum of Clean Energy, President Obama jumped into the "growth vs. levels" debate among empirical economists studying the effects of climate change, writing
[E]vidence is mounting that any economic strategy that ignores carbon pollution will impose tremendous costs to the global economy and will result in fewer jobs and less economic growth over the long term. Estimates of the economic damages from warming of 4°C over preindustrial levels range from 1% to 5% of global GDP each year by 2100 ... In addition, these estimates factor in economic damages but do not address the critical question of whether the underlying rate of economic growth (rather than just the level of GDP) is affected by climate change, so these studies could substantially understate the potential damage of climate change on the global macroeconomy (8, 9).
and citing the recent GPL paper on the global effects of temperature on growth.
Talk about a president who gets into the nuts and bolts...
James Rising has a new working paper Weather-driven adaptation in perennial crop systems:An integrated study of Brazilian coffee yields, demonstrating how farmers in Brazil cope with changing environmental conditions by altering the portfolio of coffee crops they maintain. The analysis develops a novel structural Bayesian modeling approach that embeds reduced form modeling estimates, allowing James to solve (for the first time) the well-known "problem with perennials", i.e. the fact that analysts and policy-makes cannot generally observe the number of long-live plants (perennials) that farmers maintain on a farm. The analysis is important because it demonstrates how farmers cope with a changing climate by changing their investment decisions, sometimes amplifying the economic impact of changes in climate.
Felipe Gonzalez has a new working paper Collective Action in Networks: Evidence from the Chilean Student Movement, demonstrating how millions of students across schools in Chile influence one another to participate in a growing social movement. Felipe demonstrates how the number of individuals in each student's social network, in addition to each student's physical neighborhood, increases the likelihood that specific students will participate in the 2011 student movement. He finds strong evidence of a "tipping point" where if 40% of a student's class is participating, then the entire class "tips" and begins attending the protest. This is important because it is the first empirical evidence testing classical models of social network dynamics in revolutionary environments.
- Sol discussed Planetary Management and the use of data to revolutionize how we understand the potential impact of climate change.
- Don discussed his quest to build a cheap and long-lasting battery capable of supplying grid-level storage, so that renewables can eventually power the planet.
- The two then sat down to discuss these issues with Jason Pontin and the audience.
Solomon Hsiang and Nitin Sekar published an op-ed in the Guardian, in answer to the question: "Would a legal ivory trade save elephants or speed up the massacre?"
The op-ed discusses the recent research findings from the Lab that legal ivory sales in 2008 increased poaching, rather than decreased poaching as the policy intended.
Negotiations for creating a permanent legal global ivory market were halted at the recent meeting of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species, in part due to these research findings.
Tamma Carleton and Solomon Hsiang published an article in Science discussing and synthesizing the methods and results used to understand the impact of climate from the last decade. We demonstrate how findings across the literature and sectors are linked, identify commonalities across numerous studies, and compute how much (i) various aspects of the current climate contribute to to historical social outcomes, (ii) how much climate change to date has affected outcomes, and (iii) quantitative projections of the future. We identify that understanding "adaptation gaps" is the most important area for future research.
What the filmmakers say about it
‘The Hurt Locker’ meets ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, THE AGE OF CONSEQUENCES investigates the impacts of climate change on increased resource scarcity, migration, and conflict through the lens of US national security and global stability.
Through unflinching case-study analysis, distinguished admirals, generals and military veterans take us beyond the headlines of the conflict in Syria, the social unrest of the Arab Spring, the rise of radicalized groups like ISIS, and the European refugee crisis – and lay bare how climate change stressors interact with societal tensions, sparking conflict.
Whether a long-term vulnerability or sudden shock, the film unpacks how water and food shortages, drought, extreme weather, and sea-level rise function as ‘accelerants of instability’ and ‘catalysts for conflict’ in volatile regions of the world.
We launched the Opportunity Lab website. The Opportunity Lab is a new group of economists on campus that leverage data to uncover solutions to poverty and inequality issues. The Lab focuses on six core research areas: Climate and Environment, Crime and Criminal Justice, Education and Child Development, Health, Social Safety Nets and Employment, Taxation and Inequality. Sol and collaborator Reed Walker are co-directing the Climate and Environment program of the Lab. Stay tuned!