Each degree of global warming “will singe the economies of three-quarters of the world’s nations and widen the north-south gap between rich and poor countries,” the Associated Press reports, citing a paper published this week in the journal Nature.
“Climate change is essentially a massive transfer of value from the hot parts of the world to the cooler parts of the world,” said University of California-Berkeley economist and public policy professor Solomon Hsiang, a study co-author.
“What climate change is doing is basically devaluing all the real estate south of the United States and making the whole planet less productive,” he added. “This is like taking from the poor and giving to the rich.”
Countries like Canada, Russia, and Mongolia could expect to see economic gains as a result of global warming, the study concludes. But “compared to what it would be without more global warming, the average global income will shrivel 23% at the end of the century if heat-trapping carbon dioxide pollution continues to grow at its current trajectory,” AP notes.
Drawing on 50 years of economic data from 160 countries, the study identified an annual temperature of around 13ºC/55.4ºF as a “Goldilocks zone in global temperature at which humans are good at producing stuff,” said lead author Marshall Burke of Stanford University.
“For countries colder than that economic sweet spot, every degree of warming heats up the economy and [the country] benefits. For the United States and other countries already at or above that temperature, every degree slows productivity,” AP reports.