Saturday, September 10, 2016

Blame Global Warming for Your Bad Attitude

Climate change is making us angry. It may also cause more assaults, murders, and even poor math grades for your kids.

A 2015 analysis of a billion tweets concluded that heat makes people upset, with a detectable uptick in profanity as temperature rose above about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. (Credit: Tamma Carleton and Solomon Hsiang; journal Science) Click to Enlarge.
It doesn’t take a PhD to see that climate affects our lives.  Anyone who lives far enough from the equator can tell just by opening the closet.

It takes a lot of scientists, however, to reveal how climate affects us—particularly as our climate changes. Sure, there’s prolonged heat and drought in some places, persistent floods and storms in others—all the ways we’ve learned to see global warming (though some still reject the science).  But an exhaustive review of almost 200 different studies reveals not only the extent of those predictable changes but also how we humans are reacting to climatic wallops. The results are troubling. 

Richard Moss, senior scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Joint Global Change Research Institute, calls the study essential to making clear the everyday price of climate change.  Moss, who led the climate division of the U.S. Global Change Research Program and contributes to the National Climate Assessment, said “it’s always been a challenge in some of our national conversations.”

Thinkers at least as old as Aristotle asked how climates shape societies, the authors of the new analysis note.  The trouble with answering that question in a thorough manner is that scientists would have to measure pretty much everything all the time.  This new super study, published Thursday in the journal Science, shows that scientists have become extremely clever at drawing conclusions by combining data they have with novel statistical approaches. 

In their analysis, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley deployed these tools to assess the societal consequences of climate change.  They lend support to earlier conclusions on how it’s slowing global economic growth (by 0.25 percentage points every year) and has raised the risk of conflict in Africa (by 11 percent since 1980).  But there are other, less predictable impacts as well.

Read more at Blame Global Warming for Your Bad Attitude

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