From MIT News, Deadly heat waves could hit South Asia this century
Without action, climate change could devastate a region home to one-fifth of humanity, study finds.
The key claim is:
The effects of unchecked temperature rise would extend beyond the health concerns associated with being outside in high temperatures. With workers unable to stay outdoors for extended periods of time, the region’s economy and agricultural output would decline, experts say. “With the disruption to the agricultural production, it doesn’t need to be the heat wave itself that kills people,” says study author Elfatih Eltahir, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a press release. “Production will go down, so potentially everyone will suffer.”
Matthew E. Kahn , Professor of Economics at USC explains why climate scientists should not be trusted when doing economic forecasts. His essay is An MIT Engineer Discusses Economic Issues Related to Climate Change Adaptation
What does economics have to say about this prediction of economic outcomes out 83 years from now?
“Deadly heat waves projected in the densely populated agricultural regions of South Asia”
1. Note that there are no general equilibrium effects. If the South Asian economy (i.e India) is closed to international trade, then agriculture prices will go up as production contracts, farmers could actually be richer if demand is inelastic.
2. There is no storage and no savings in his “economy”. If heat waves are predictable, won’t people save $ for the hot summers? This paper by Donaldson et. al. shows that capital markets in India’s rural areas play a key role in allowing for consumption risk smoothing. This MIT engineer is colleagues with Rob Townsend and should talk to Rob about his 1994 Econometrica.
3. There is no urban air conditioned sector for people to migrate to.
4. If the South Asian economy is open to international trade, then urban consumers will import from other regions during hot summers and won’t face price increases. In this case, local farmers will bear the incidence of hot summers. To reduce their exposure to such income risk, they should send a child to the city to work and the child will remit $ back to the country side. Read Mobarak’s co-authored Econometrica from Bangladesh for an optimistic preview of the region’s future.
5. There is no innovation in the agricultural sector to allow the South Asian farmers to cope with extreme heat. Neither human capital increases, nor world innovations diffusing to South Asia plays a role in helping these individuals to cope.
6. I could not find a discussion of farmer choice of what to grow and the discrete choice margin of adjustment to more heat resistant crops (see Mendelsohn’s many papers).
A quick look at the 47 references of the paper reveals that no economics research is cited. That’s interesting on several levels.
Despite being out of their field Eltahir et al. went on to proclaim their activism (my bolds):
In South Asia, a region of deep poverty where one-fifth of the world’s people live, new research suggests that by the end of this century climate change could lead to summer heat waves with levels of heat and humidity that exceed what humans can survive without protection.
There is still time to avert such severe warming if measures are implemented now to reduce the most dire consequences of global warming. However, under business-as-usual scenarios, without significant reductions in carbon emissions, the study shows these deadly heat waves could begin within as little as a few decades to strike regions of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, including the fertile Indus and Ganges river basins that produce much of the region’s food supply.
Researchers note that the disastrous scenario could be avoided if countries meet their commitments to keep temperatures from rising more than 2°C (3.6°F) by 2100. That goal, embedded in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, will likely be difficult to meet without increasingly ambitious efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The new findings, based on detailed computer simulations using the best available global circulation models, are described this week in the journal Science Advances, in a paper by Elfatih Eltahir, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at MIT; Eun Soon Im, a former researcher at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology and now a professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; and Jeremy Pal, a professor at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
It is a familiar story: Climatists can not contemplate, let alone analyze how humans adapt to changing circumstances. They are totally focused on reducing CO2 emissions, even though these have been greening the planet in recent decades.
See Also Adapting Works, Mitigation Fails