Temperature data are commonly used to estimate the sensitivity of many societally relevant outcomes, including crop yields, mortality, and economic output, to ongoing climate changes. In many tropical regions, however, temperature measures are often very sparse and unreliable, limiting our ability to understand climate change impacts.
The ongoing decline in under-5 mortality ranks among the most significant public and population health successes of the past 30 years.
Policy-makers in the world's poorest countries are often forced to make decisions based on limited data. Consider Angola, which recently conducted its first postcolonial census. In the 44 years that elapsed between the prior census and the recent one, the country's population grew from 5.6 million to 24.3 million, and the country experienced a protracted civil war that displaced millions of citizens.
Growing evidence demonstrates that climatic conditions can have a profound impact on the functioning of modern human societies, but effects on economic activity appear inconsistent. Fundamental productive elements of modern economies, such as workers and crops, exhibit highly non-linear responses to local temperature even in wealthy countries. In contrast, aggregate macroeconomic productivity of entire wealthy countries is reported not to respond to temperature= while poor countries respond only linearly.
We review the emerging literature on climate and conflict. We consider multiple types of human conflict, including both interpersonal conflict, such as assault and murder, and intergroup conflict, including riots and civil war. We discuss key methodological issues in estimating causal relationships and largely focus on natural experiments that exploit variation in climate over time.
We examine how variation in local economic conditions has shaped the AIDS epidemic in Africa. Using data from over 200,000 individuals across 19 countries, we match biomarker data on individuals' serostatus to information on local rainfall shocks, a large source of income variation for rural households. We estimate infection rates in HIV-endemic rural areas increase by 11% for every recent drought, an effect that is statistically and economically significant.
Quantitative estimates of the impacts of climate change on economic outcomes are important for public policy. We show that the vast majority of estimates fail to account for well-established uncertainty in future temperature and rainfall changes, leading to potentially misleading projections. We reexamine seven well-cited studies and show that accounting for climate uncertainty leads to a much larger range of projected climate impacts and a greater likelihood of worst-case outcomes, an important policy parameter.
Abstract: Are violent conflict and socio-political stability associated with changes in climatological variables? We examine 50 rigorous quantitative studies on this question and find consistent support for a causal association between climatological changes and various conflict outcomes, at spatial scales ranging from individual buildings to the entire globe and at temporal scales ranging from an anomalous hour to an anomalous millennium.
Abstract: A rapidly growing body of research examines whether human conflict can be affected by climatic changes. Drawing from archaeology, criminology, economics, geography, history, political science, and psychology, we assemble and analyze the 60 most rigorous quantitative studies and document, for the first time, a striking convergence of results. We find strong causal evidence linking climatic events to human conflict across a range of spatial and temporal scales and across all major regions of the world.
This paper aims to demonstrate the relationships between ENSO and rice production of Jiangxi province in order to identify the reason that ENSO might have little effect on Chinese rice production. Using a data set with measures of Jiangxi's climate and rice production, we find the reason that during 1985 and 2004 ENSO's well correlated with rainfall did not promote Chinese rice production. First, the largest effects of ENSO mostly occur in the months when there is no rice in the field. Second, there is almost no temperature effect.
Roughly a billion people around the world continue to live in state of chronic hunger and food insecurity. Unfortunately, efforts to improve their livelihoods must now unfold in the context of a rapidly changing climate, in which warming temperatures and changing rainfall regimes could threaten the basic productivity of the agricultural systems on which most of the world's poor directly depend.
Predicting the potential effects of climate change on crop yields requires a model of how crops respond to weather. As predictions from different models often disagree, understanding the sources of this divergence is central to building a more robust picture of climate change's likely impacts. A common approach is to use statistical models trained on historical yields and some simplified measurements of weather, such as growing season average temperature and precipitation.
In a recent paper, we documented strong historical linkages between temperature and civil conflict in Africa (1). Sutton et al. (2) raise two concerns with our findings: that the relationship between temperature and war is based on common trends and is therefore spurious, and that our model appears overly sensitive to small specification changes. Both concerns reflect a basic misunderstanding of the analysis.
Accumulating evidence suggests that agricultural production could be greatly affected by climate change, but there remains little quantitative understanding of how these agricultural impacts would affect economic livelihoods in poor countries. Here we consider three scenarios of agricultural impacts of climate change by 2030 (impacts resulting in low, medium, or high productivity) and evaluate the resulting changes in global commodity prices, national economic welfare, and the incidence of poverty in a set of 15 developing countries.
Meeting the food needs of Africa's growing population over the next half-century will require technologies that significantly improve rural livelihoods at minimal environmental cost. These technologies will likely be distinct from those of the Green Revolution, which had relatively little impact in sub-Saharan Africa; consequently, few such interventions have been rigorously evaluated. This paper analyzes solar-powered drip irrigation as a strategy for enhancing food security in the rural Sudano-Sahel region of West Africa.
Armed conflict within nations has had disastrous humanitarian consequences throughout much of the world. Here we undertake the first comprehensive examination of whether global climate change will exacerbate armed conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. We find strong historical linkages between civil war and temperature on the continent, with warmer years leading to significant increases in the likelihood of war. When combined with climate model projections of future temperature trends, this historical response to temperature suggests a roughly 60% increase in armed conflict incidence by
Estimates of climate change impacts are often characterized by large uncertainties that reflect ignorance of many physical, biological, and socio-economic processes, and which hamper efforts to anticipate and adapt to climate change. A key to reducing these uncertainties is improved understanding of the relative contributions of individual factors. We evaluated uncertainties for projections of climate change impacts on crop production for 94 crop–region combinations that account for the bulk of calories consumed by malnourished populations.
Rising populations and incomes throughout the world have boosted meat demand by over 75% in the last 20 years, intensifying pressures on production systems and the natural resources to which they are linked. As a growing proportion of global meat production is traded, the environmental impacts of production become increasingly separated from where the meat is consumed.
The potential impact of climate change on the world’s poor is a topic with wide and growing interest, but there remains much uncertainty about how specifically to adapt to a changing climate. Food security impacts are a particular concern, as hundreds of millions of people who struggle to get by in the current climate may be faced with more frequent droughts, flooding, and heat waves that can devastate crop harvests. The humanitarian, environmental, and security implications of these impacts could be enormous.
This paper provides an original account of global land, water and nitrogen use in support of industrialized livestock production and trade, with emphasis on two of the fastest growing sectors, pork and poultry. Our analysis focuses on trade in feed and animal products, using a new model that calculates the amount of "virtual" nitrogen, water and land used in production but not embedded in the product.
The integration of the agricultural and energy sectors caused by rapid growth in the biofuels market signals a new era in food policy and sustainable development. For the first time in decades, agricultural commodity markets could experience a sustained increase in prices, breaking the long-term price decline that has benefited food consumers worldwide. Whether this transition occurs, and how it will affect global hunger and poverty, remain to be seen. Will food markets begin to track the volatile energy market in terms of price and availability?