A recent study has shown that climate change has the potential to be 10 times more damaging to global economy than previously thought.
The research was conducted by experts at University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University, Palo Alto. The findings were published online on October 21, in the journal Nature.
By reviewing economic and climate data collected between 1960 and 2010, pertaining to 166 countries, researchers identified for the first time a link between national temperature records and economic output.
“If you have a lot of data on a lot of countries in a lot of years, that allows you to start to distinguish the particular role of temperature in economic performance”, explained Marshall Burke, study co-author and center fellow at the Center on Food Security and the Environment, at Stanford University.
An ideal average annual temperature was determined, which ensures optimal levels of productivity. This has been estimated at 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius), and is close to the average temperatures encountered in San Francisco’s bay area.
Therefore, countries whose climate is already much hotter than this recommended value, such as developing ones from the tropics and subtropics, are those which are the most exposed to losses when it comes to labor and crop productivity.
As a result, it is expected that global inequality will escalate, as the income gap between nations becomes even more pronounced, study authors warn.
Moreover, regions where temperatures equal this 55-degree annual average or slightly surpass it, are also at risk of experiencing lower yields as global warming continues. The United States is one such vulnerable country, and also other world powers like China and Japan.
On the other hand, Scandinavian countries, Russia and Canada, which are below this desirable average, may experience greater profits when it comes to the agricultural and industrial sectors, as temperatures continue to rise.
However, even these regions may not have the expected revenues, since global warming will also result in other unfavorable phenomena, such as extreme weather and heavy precipitation.
Moreover, given that their commercial partners situated further south will be under pressure due to temperature increases, international trade may not be on par with expectations.
Researchers also discovered that nations across the globe have failed to adapt to growing temperatures in the last decades. In fact the impact of climate change on global economy might prove to be 10 times more damaging than previously predicted, leading to an output reduction of up to 23% by 2100.
Around 77% of the world’s nations are likely to witness a drop in average income, according to new estimations. It current trends continue, the consequences will be devastating: there is a 63% probability that global GDP will fall by over 10% and a 51% likelihood that it will be lowered by more than 20%.
The worst-case scenario, which is 12% possible, is that GDP will be slashed by more than a half. However, as the lead authors explain, “climate is not fate” and numerous measures could be taken in order to prevent this outcome.
It is hoped that at the international climate conference, scheduled to commence in Paris on November 30, a global agreement will be reached, meant to halt or at least reduce greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. The main goal is to limit global average temperature rise at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by next century.
Image Source: Pixabay