Data Wonk

Who Wins From Global Warming?

Wisconsin wins; Florida, Texas, southern states big losers.

By - Jul 12th, 2017 02:12 pm

Who wins and who loses from global warming? A recent paper in Science magazine explored that question. The twelve authors—a mixture of economists and climate scientists–combined models from their diverse fields to estimate the economic effects of global warming on each county in the United States. Here is how they describe their model:

We developed the Spatial Empirical Adaptive Globalto-Local Assessment System (SEAGLAS) to dynamically integrate and synthesize research outputs across multiple fields in near-real time. We use SEAGLAS to construct probabilistic, county-level impact estimates that are benchmarked to GMST [global mean surface temperature] changes.

The next diagram, reproduced from the paper, summarizes the net effect of global warming on the various parts of the US. The report combined research on several effects of global warming, including the percentage changes in agricultural yields, mortality, energy expenditures, labor (both indoor and outdoor), coastal effects and property and violent crime. These were then combined to get an estimate of the percent of total direct damages to each county’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Total economic damage (% county GDP)

Total economic damage (% county GDP)

As can be seen from the map there are winners (shown in green) and losers (in red) from climate change. The scale shows the total economic damage as a percentage of county GDP. Since the colors show damage, negative values are desirable and positive values undesirable.

Overall, when weighted by population, the US is projected to be a net loser from climate change. On average, climate change is projected to cause a 3.9 percent reduction in county GDP.

The costs and benefits are not evenly distributed geographically. Except for crime and some coastal damages, populations in the South and lower Midwest suffer the largest losses. Northern and western populations have smaller damages or even net gains from projected climate changes. Another way of expressing this is that warming causes a net transfer of economic value from Southern, Central, and Mid-Atlantic regions toward the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes and New England.

This in part reflects the reality that warmer temperatures are more welcome in climates with cold winter temperatures. Thus, colder regions are more likely to gain than hotter ones from global warming. The advantages of warmer winters are more likely to outweigh the disadvantages of warmer summers when it comes to things like fuel use, the effect on mortality and labor.

The good news for Milwaukee is that it is projected to be a net gainer from global warming, if only by a small amount (in terms of damage, by a negative 0.5 percent). This compares to the positive (i.e., bad) 3.9 percent damage nationally. This puts Milwaukee at around the 20th percentile for damage, with 80 percent of the nation likely to suffer more damage from climate change.

While global warming may bring a slight net benefit for Milwaukee, the United States as a whole loses. In addition to reducing the American economy as a whole, it would make inequality worse. As a whole the counties losing the most are already poorer than the gainers.

In political terms there is an irony to this geographic distribution. One might expect that states and regions that are likely to suffer the most from global warming would elect governors and legislators who are most supportive of efforts to reverse its causes. Yet it is clear from the most recent elections that the opposite is the case: those states likely to be hardest hit tend to elect climate change deniers.

To further explore the issue of whether political office-holders protect their supporters, I calculated the average predicted damage percentages for counties won by Hillary Clinton versus those won by Donald Trump. The Trump-won counties are substantially more vulnerability than those won by Clinton, mostly reflecting their preponderance in the South.

Estimated Damages from Global Warming

Estimated Damages from Global Warming

Milwaukee residents may consider themselves fortunate to live in a region that is less vulnerable to—and may even benefit from–global warming. They may not feel so happy, however, if the future brings a growing stream of refugees from regions with economies hard hit by rising temperatures.

34 thoughts on “Data Wonk: Who Wins From Global Warming?”

  1. John Casper says:

    Great reporting.

  2. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Since 1975 all predictions on Global Warming, cooling have been wrong. what now?

  3. Adam says:

    @WCD- You may want to explain that to the retreating glaciers and arctic and antarctic ice sheets around the world.

  4. Vincent Hanna says:

    WCD told me that snow here in April proves global warming isn’t real. He also said humans and dinosaurs walked alongside one another 5,000 years ago. He is, how do you say, not smart.

  5. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    They are not retreatting, and if they do, Climate changes all the time in history look at dinosaurs, warming period from 800 to 1200 Viking era. Global warming is not eh question but what effect CO2 has on the climate compared to the really big things like the Sun, oceans. 26 different thins affect the globe. Warming is better.

  6. There are no winners. I attended the talk at First U on Wednesday evening. Bruce, too bad you weren’t there. Dr. Guy McPherson’s talk on abrupt climax change was powerful. Lots of data! Those of us in the Transition Town Movement knew about economic collapse due to peak oil constraints and debt economies, but now comes the bigger picture. Near term climate collapse will make the only winners some bacteria and viruses that began it all and will restart another evolutionary change in a few million years. His advice? Stay Calm, Seek Excellence, Do what you love. As we humans are in hospice along with other “higher life forms” we need to care for each other as one does in hospice care.

  7. happyjack27 says:

    I don’t think WCD grasps the concept of statistics and confidence intervals.

  8. happyjack27 says:

    @WCD to prevent embarassment in the future, I recommend before posting you do a search on this myth debunker: i made. just type in what you heard from your fake news sources and hit enter. For instance, if before posting your comment #2, you searched “how reliable are climate models?” and read through the first results, you made have saved yourself from the embarrassment of being totally wrong and looking woefully ignorant and misinformed on the subject.

  9. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    History has proved me right. In 1975 I thought they were nuts about the ice age and later all the projections of Gore and others have been wrong.
    Bedsides that we all know that climate change is constant. Dinosaurs. 26 different things change climate and we are one of the smallest. warm is better.

  10. Jason Troll says:

    The gift that keeps on giving. Democrats running on environmental issues. Thank you.

  11. happyjack27 says:

    @WCD I see you didn’t follow my advice.

  12. Vincent Hanna says:

    Caring about the environment is so lame. Why care about it when you’re just going to die anyway? Who cares what we leave behind? Live like Ayn Rand said and just care about yourself. She’s so smart.

  13. Jason Troll says:

    Who cares what we leave behind? What have we left behind? Young kids are working two to three jobs so their Grand parents can live comfortably on Social Security for twenty years. We cannot kick junkies and pretenders of disability because Democrats are there for them. We cannot ask the wealthiest of us the billionaires to give half their wealth to cover these programs because Democrats protect them as well. We can only raise taxes on the little man thru pay roll taxes and the most productive through income taxes.

  14. happyjack27 says:

    Forgive me, sarcasm doesn’t transfer well over the internet. WCD, are you being sarcastic?

  15. Vincent Hanna says:

    Troll you aren’t making any sense, as per usual. Your party is the one who won’t raise taxes on the wealthy. Your party does everything it can to screw the poor and middle class.

  16. Jason Troll says:

    Vince, if you would just look at the top five wealthiest Americans they control over $250 billion dollars and they owe it all to the Democrats. They put all there donations into your party to protect them, They do not pay income taxes because that is what the working class pays, they do not pay pay roll taxes, yet when ever there is a problem, Democrats ask to raise, pay roll taxes for Social Security and income taxes. The New York Times and the Washing ton Post regularly ask for the raising of taxes on the working class but nothing on the wealthy. New York Times is run by Carlos Slim a Mexican Billionaire who loves Democrats and the Washington Post is owned by Jeff Bezos another lover of Democrats and a billionaire who exploits the United Stated Post office thru Amazon. Let us give him credit for having his packages delivered at the tax payers expense.

  17. happyjack27 says:

    That’s a great sample size, Jason: 5.
    Also no post hoc ergo proctor hoc or ad hominem circumstantial there.
    Some people with money support democrats, therefore democrats are bad.

    Wait a minute, isn’t that the exact opposite of the conservative’s modus operandi?
    Why did you vote for Trump, if not because he was wealthy?
    It certainly couldn’t have been for his policies or his character.

  18. happyjack27 says:

    Wait a minute, we are we talking about people? I thought we were talking about science.

    Is that not a comfortable subject for you, Jason? Trying to move the conversation to more familiar territory?

    I smell a red herring…

  19. Tom D says:

    Jason, Warren Buffet is one of the 5 wealthiest Americans, and he pays income and payroll taxes.

  20. Jason Troll says:

    Happy, I guess you win the argument. Your so holy on the earth subject. Funny thing, when I sell my house I suppose I won’t need an air conditioning, dishwasher or a water heater. I am sure the younger generation that precedes me needs no washer or dryer. The new citizens that come after me were taught in the public schools by government union employees that my generation is the great polluters and they will save the earth. All I see and here our the new gaming devices, Netflix, Amazon and 50 inch TV’s. I am sure all of that leaves no carbon foot print.

  21. happyjack27 says:

    @Troll. Well thanks but I’m not sure what argument I just won. That large T.V.s have no carbon footprint? I guess I don’t remember ever being involved in that conversation. The only one who seems to be making that argument is you. So umm… Good job losing your argument with, well… nobody. Makes me wonder how well you’d do in a discussion with actual people. Presumably no better.

  22. happyjack27 says:

    I think I’m going to nickname you Tyler Durden; you fight against yourself… And lose! I dare say it’s entertaining. Mildly.

  23. happyjack27 says:

    I also love that your counter-argument to carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere has a long-term heat trapping is that carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere has a long-term heat trapping effect.

    Haha! Okay, you win!

  24. Vincent Hanna says:

    The fact that there are five rich Democrats is proof of nothing and your argument is a joke. They aren’t elected officials and Democrats who actually are (along with those rich guys) support raising taxes on the wealthy. This isn’t a policy difference. You have your facts wrong. Not to mention your party is the party of the country club rich guy. Your party wants to slash taxes for the rich and raise them for everyone else. You are living in an alternative universe. Keep on Trollin’.

  25. happyjack27 says:

    Oh but Vincent, why tall about the ACTUAL president an ACTUAL republicans in congress giving money to the rich in for example TrumpCare, when we can talk about rich people who AREN’T in power and might in theory want to influence government to give them more money but in practice actually DON’T?

    I mean, really, that just doesn’t make Troll feel better about who he voted for.

  26. JASON TROLL says:

    Warren Buffett paid about $20,000 IN FEDERAL INCOME TAXES IN 2016. HE IS WITH 64 BILLION.

  27. Tom D says:

    Jason, once again, you are mis-informed.

    While I don’t know how much Buffet paid in 2016 (or whether he has even released that data), he HAS released info on his 2015 return for which he paid $1,845,557 in federal income tax (on an Adjusted Gross Income of $11,563,931).

    He also gave $2,858,057,970 (yes, almost $3 Billion) to charity that year, of which he was only permitted to deduct about $3.5 million (since, under law, deductions for that type of charitable contribution are capped at 30% of gross income).

    The reason someone with so much wealth had “only” $11.6 million of gross income is because most of his wealth is in Berkshire Hathaway stock which doesn’t pay a cash dividend, instead choosing to pay a huge corporate income tax (which is over and above the $1.8 million Buffet personally paid).

  28. Bruce Thompson says:

    Tom D appears to be correct on Buffett’s 2015 taxes. I am curious about the source for your figure.

  29. Vincent Hanna says:

    Far from the first time the Troll has been wrong, won’t be the last. It’s part of his MO.

  30. happyjack27 says:

    I think what Tom D. is trying to say is that Warren Buffet has a lot of money, therefore Climate Change is a hoax.

    Good point, Tom D.

    Good point.

  31. happyjack27 says:

    sorry that when i said Tom I meant Jason.

  32. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    CO2 is God’s gift to humans. The earth is here for us to live on, not the other way around. The earth was not created in the image of God, we were. CO2 has increased crop yields, food so that we can support our populations, now if we could just top them from fighting all the time. Darwinians please explain to me the Cambrian Explosions and why through out history tons of animal appear and disappear but only one can trace DNA to Africa and are still here: Humans.

  33. Vincent Hanna says:

    Why would god not care about how human beings treat the place he created for them to live on? That makes no sense whatsoever WCD.

  34. happyjack27 says:

    And now we’re anthropomorphizing global warming.

    Sheesh, people! Not everything has a deliberately acting agent behind it!

    Thor doesn’t cause thunder and Poseidon doesn’t cause waves.

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