Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

As planet warms, poor nations face economic chill

19.03.2009
Climate change may widen gap between rich and poor, study finds

A rising tide is said to lift all boats. Rising global temperatures, however, may lead to increased disparities between rich and poor countries, according to a recent MIT economic analysis of the impact of climate change on growth.

After examining worldwide climate and economic data from 1950 to 2003, Benjamin A. Olken, associate professor in the Department of Economics, concludes that a 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature in a given year reduces economic growth by an average of 1.1 percentage points in the world's poor countries but has no measurable effect in rich countries.

Olken says his research suggests higher temperatures will be disproportionately bad for the economic growth of poor countries compared to rich countries.

The precise reasons why higher temperatures lower economic output are likely to be complex, but Olken's results suggest the importance of temperature's impact on agricultural output. His data also provide evidence for a relationship between temperature and industrial output, investment, research productivity and political stability.

"The potential impacts of an increase in temperature on poor countries are much larger than existing estimates have suggested," Olken says. "Although historical estimates don't necessarily predict the future, our results suggest that one should be particularly attentive to the potential impact of climate change on poorer countries."

Olken's analysis is contained in "Climate Shocks and Economic Growth: Evidence from the Last Half Century," a paper co-authored by MIT economics graduate student Melissa Dell and Benjamin F. Jones, associate management professor at Northwestern University. The paper is currently under review for publication. Olken, who has been researching issues of growth and temperature for about two years, presented some of the findings at a recent conference of the American Economic Association.

Growing hot-cold divide
It has long been observed that hotter countries, such as those in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Latin America, tend to be poorer than cooler countries in North America and Europe; the main exceptions are hot, rich Middle East countries with oil reserves and cold, poor Communist or former Communist states like North Korea and Mongolia. What contemporary scholars have debated, however, is whether climate has a significant effect on a country's economy today or whether it is institutions and policies that now solely drive prosperity.

To conduct their research, Olken and his co-authors used existing data sets of economic growth and productivity -- everything from gross domestic product to the rate of publication of scientific papers -- and combined them with country-by-country temperature and precipitation data from 1950 to 2003.

Olken and his co-authors conclude that rising temperatures do substantially reduce economic output and growth rates in both agricultural and industrial sectors, but only in countries that are already poor. Higher temperatures also reduce investment and innovation but, again, only in poor nations.

Rising temperatures may also have political consequences, the authors found. A one-degree rise in temperature in poor countries raises the likelihood of a so-called irregular leader transition (i.e., a coup) by 3.9 percentage points.

Olken acknowledges that the long-term impact of temperature change might be different from the short-term effect since countries may adapt to a particular climate over time. But his research found no such adaptation over a 10-year time horizon.

Should the future effects mirror recent history, world policy makers should be prepared for a widening gap between rich and poor countries as the globe continues to warm, he says.

Elizabeth Thomson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mit.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>