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An Economist’s Guide to Climate Change Science

Hsiang, Solomon, and Robert E. Kopp. 2018. “An Economist’s Guide to Climate Change Science.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 32 (4): 3-32DOI: 10.1257/jep.32.4.3

The goal of this article is to provide a brief introduction to the physical science of climate change, aimed towards economists. We begin by describing the physics that controls global climate, how scientists measure and model the climate system, and the magnitude of human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide. We then summarize many of the climatic changes of interest to economists that have been documented and that are projected in the future. We conclude by highlighting some key areas in which economists are in a unique position to help climate science advance.
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Valuing the Global Mortality Consequences of Climate Change Accounting for Adaptation Costs and Benefits

Carleton, Tamma and Delgado, Michael and Greenstone, Michael and Houser, Trevor and Hsiang, Solomon and Hultgren, Andrew and Jina, Amir and Kopp, Robert E. and McCusker, Kelly and Nath, Ishan and Rising, James and Rode, Ashwin and Seo, Hee Kwon and Simcock, Justin and Viaene, Arvid and Yuan, Jiacan and Zhang, Alice Tianbo, Valuing the Global Mortality Consequences of Climate Change Accounting for Adaptation Costs and Benefits (August 1, 2018). University of Chicago, Becker Friedman Institute for Economics Working Paper No. 2018-51. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3224365

The cost of climate-driven changes in global mortality risk alone are as large as previous estimates of the economy-wide toll of climate change, according to an analysis of mortality data from 56% of the world’s population.
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Higher temperatures increase suicide rates in the United States and Mexico

Marshall Burke, Felipe González, Patrick Baylis, Sam Heft-Neal, Ceren Baysan, Sanjay Basu & Solomon Hsiang (2018). Higher temperatures increase suicide rates in the United States and Mexico, Nature Climate Change. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-018-0222-x

If a month is 1 degree Celsius warmer than normal, then its suicide rate will increase by 0.7 percent in the United States and 2.1 percent in Mexico.
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Extreme sea level implications of 1.5 °C, 2.0 °C, and 2.5 °C temperature stabilization targets in the 21st and 22nd centuries

Rasmussen, D. J., Bitterman, K., Buchanan, M. K., Kulp, S., Strauss, B. H., Kopp, R. E., Oppenheimer, M. (2018). Extreme sea level implications of 1.5 °C, 2.0 °C, and 2.5 °C temperature stabilization targets in the 21st and 22nd centuries, Environmental Research Letters, 13, 0640095.

A 1.5 C temperature increase could drive the global mean sea level up by roughly 1.6 feet (48 cm) while a 2.0 C increase will raise oceans by about 1.8 feet (56 cm) and a 2.5 C increase will raise sea level by an estimated 1.9 feet (58 cm).
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