Thursday, July 10, 2008

Map of Pain

That's the current IMF map of food and fuel cost pain. This is a summary of the Freakonomics analysis of where the climate change apocalypse is likely to hit hardest; Let’s say you are convinced that climate change is a huge threat and will have catastrophic consequences for humankind in the foreseeable future. How exactly do you envision that catastrophe playing out?

Most people I speak with, and most accounts I’ve read and seen, lean toward the apocalyptic. But what are the mechanisms by which disaster strikes? Where does it occur? Who is most likely to suffer?

According to a fascinating new working paper (abstract here; download available here) by Melissa Dell, Benjamin F. Jones, and Benjamin A. Olken, the answer to that last question may be an easy one: poor countries.

This answer may not surprise you very much, but Dell, Jones, and Olken have done a good job of showing the relationship between climate and the economy, and their paper may substantially inform the way that people — especially in the U.S. and other rich countries — consider the possible effects of climate change.