The establishment media last week tripped over themselves to bring attention to a paper by climate alarmists asserting global warming is making global economic inequality worse. A review of the data show the assertion is nonsense.
Noah Diffenbaugh and Marshall Burke co-authored the paper in question (https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/04/16/1816020116). Both have a long history of publicly asserting a global warming crisis. That being the case, it is in their reputational best interest to present papers further raising – rather than scuttling – alarm about global warming. Their previous activism does not by itself disqualify any assertions in their paper, but it should lead the media and others to look closely and take with a grain of salt any new alarmist claims from the two.
Diffenbaugh and Burke claimed to tease from each nation’s historical gross domestic product an impact from global warming. The two authors asserted that nations closer to the poles disproportionately benefit from global warming because warmer temperatures bring these nations close to a temperature optimum, and that nations closer to the equator are disproportionately harmed by warming temperatures that take them further away from a temperature optimum. Because more people live closer to the equator than the poles, and because nations closer to the poles are wealthier than nations closer to the equator, the two asserted global warming makes global economic inequality worse.
That is a nifty sounding theory, like so many alarmist theories are. Yet real-world data devastatingly contradict the alarmist theory, as real-world data tend to do.
A press release from Stanford University (https://news.stanford.edu/2019/04/22/climate-change-worsened-global-economic-inequality/), where the two work, listed “5 countries burdened by warming.” Let’s take a look at how those five countries’ economies have fared during the modern warming era.
Among the five countries allegedly burdened by warming, India is the most significant. India’s 1.36 billion people are second most in the world, falling just short of China’s 1.42 billion people (https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/population-by-country/). No other nation is close, with the USA coming in third with 0.32 billion people. (The USA and China, located in temperate latitudes, were not listed by the authors as either “burdened” or “boosted” by global warming.)
Diffenbaugh and Burke claim India suffered a 31-percent per-capita loss in income between 1961 and 2010 due to global warming. But objective economic data tell a different story. There was no global warming at all between 1961 through 1977, so any adverse impacts from warming could not have begun before 1978.
India’s GDP during the era of modern warming – 1978 through the present – has averaged more than 5-percent growth per year (https://tradingeconomics.com/india/gdp-growth-annual). India’s GDP growth during this period easily eclipses that of the United States. Moreover, during the so-called ‘hottest years on record,’ since 2003, India’s GDP has averaged better than 7-percent annual growth. This is more than double the U.S. growth rate during the same time period.
Indonesia, another country listed as one of the five nations “burdened” by global warming, is the fourth most populous nation on Earth. The authors claim Indonesia suffered a 27-percent per-capita loss in GDP due to global warming. Like India, however, Indonesia has enjoyed impressive economic growth in the modern warming ear. Indonesia has averaged better than six-percent GDP growth since 1978 (https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG?locations=IN-BR-ID-SD-NG-US), doubling the average annual growth rate of the United States.
Brazil, the fifth most populous country in the world, is also listed among the five allegedly “burdened” nations. The authors claim Brazil suffered a 25-percent lost in per-capita GDP due to global warming (https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG?locations=IN-BR-ID-SD-NG-US). Yet Brazil’s average GDP growth in the modern warming era is very similar to that of the United States.
Nigeria is the seventh most populous country in the world, and is also listed among the five allegedly “burdened” countries. The authors claim Nigeria suffered a 29-percent loss in per-capita GDP due to global warming. Yet Nigeria has averaged approximately seven-percent GDP growth per year this century (https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.MKTP.KD.ZG?locations=IN-BR-ID-SD-NG-US), more than doubling that of the United States.
Sudan is the last of the five countries listed as economically “burdened” by global warming. Sudan does not rank in the top 30 most populous countries, so its importance regarding global warming, global population, and economic impact is not nearly as significant. Also, the country suffered a civil war from 1983 through 2005, rendering reliable and meaningful economic data nonexistent prior to 2005. The authors claim Sudan suffered a 39-percent loss in per-capita GDP due to global warming. Since 2006, however, Sudan has averaged 4.9 percent annual GDP growth (https://www.ceicdata.com/en/indicator/sudan/real-gdp-growth), easily eclipsing that of the United States.
In summary, two climate alarmists created a media sensation last week by claiming global warming is disproportionately harming the economic output of poorer nations. A review of the economies in the nations the alarmists claim are so disproportionately burdened indicates these nations as a whole are experiencing substantially faster economic growth than the world’s standard-bearer of economic production and wealth – the United States.
The whole world should be so lucky as to ‘suffer’ the economic track record of nations disproportionately “burdened” by global warming.