Publication: letter on Ivory trade policy in Science by Solomon Hsiang

Alongside a large interdisciplinary team, Sol coauthored a letter today in Science today explaining that recommendations to limit trade in legal ivory are based on evidence-based research. This was a response to an earlier article by Biggs et al. arguing that recommendations to limit trade were based on arbitrary values. We also point out that transparency in international negotiations are an important element of the process, in contrast to the recommendation by Biggs et al. to speed up international decision-making by negotiating international trade in ivory behind closed doors. 

Read the letter here

Read research by the lab on the global black market for ivory and international trade policy experiments here.

Comment in Nature: Climate and conflict research can support policy decision-making by Solomon Hsiang

Marshall Burke and Sol Hsiang wrote a short response to a recent editorial in Nature. The editorial was itself a response to an article in Nature Climate Change that argued that climate-conflict research contained systematic sampling bias. The published Correspondence is pretty succinct:

Your Editorial on sampling bias in studies linking climate change with civil unrest (Nature 554, 275–276; 2018) is based on an analysis that in our view provides no evidence for biased results (C. Adams et al. Nature Clim. Change 8, 200–203; 2018).

We disagree with your contention that it is “undesirable” to study risk factors for populations with a high likelihood of conflict on the grounds that it could “stigmatize” these regions as politically unstable. The same logic would argue against studying risk factors for people who have a high chance of developing cancer for fear of stigmatizing patients. In our view, such recommendations could create bias in the literature by inhibiting research.

Studies of connections between climate and conflict should instead be motivated to identify causes of human suffering so that it can be alleviated (see, for example, M. Burke et al. Annu. Rev. Econ. 7, 577–617; 2015). We do not believe that shying away from investigations in this field is an effective path towards this goal.
— Marshall Burke & Solomon Hsiang (Nature, 2018)

You can read the original un-cut text here, or download a pdf here.

Publication: Effect of Temperature on Math performance and learning by Solomon Hsiang

graff zivin.jpg

Joshua Graff Zivin, Matthew Neidell and Sol Hsiang published a new article "Temperature and human capital in the short and long run". Analyzing over 24,000 student exams and following individual students over time, they demonstrate that cognitive performance in mathematics declines at high temperatures, but not in reading or verbal exams.

Read the article here.

Paper: Pricing climate by Solomon Hsiang


Tatyana Deryugina and Solomon Hsiang have a new NBER working paper out titled "The Marginal Product of Climate". The analysis develops a formal theory for how overall economic productivity due to the climate should be valued, accounting for the fact that populations adapt to changes in their climate. They apply their approach to data on the United States and estimate that "business as usual" warming is worth roughly $6.7 trillion in foregone production within the US market economy.

Read the paper here.

Paper: The Distribution of Environmental Damages by GlobalPolicyLab Member

Solomon Hsiang has a new joint paper with Paulina Oliva, and Reed Walker reviewing and exploring what is known about the distributional consequences of environmental damages and the benefits of environmental policy. They provide a general framework for empiricists and explore what is known in the context of pollution, deforestation, and climate. The NBER working paper is available online here. The article is forthcoming in the Review of Environmental Economics and Policy.


Op-Ed in the New York Times: Economic consequences of Hurricane Maria by GlobalPolicyLab Member

Solomon Hsiang and Trevor Houser published an Op-Ed in the New York Times explaining the extraordinary potential economic consequences of Hurricane Maria.  By their calculation, Maria could lower Puerto Rican incomes by 21% over the next 15 years, undoing roughly 26 years of economic development.  This could make Maria the most costly Atlantic storm (in percentage terms) in history.

Their calculations and more context are provided in the Climate Impact Lab Insights Blog

hurricane Maria economic damage Hsiang

Publication: Crop-damaging temperatures increase suicide rates in India by GlobalPolicyLab Member

Tamma Carleton has a new paper out in PNAS linking the climate to suicide rates in India. 

The analysis is the first to provide large-scale empirical evidence that the climate influences suicide rates in a developing country. The study shows that temperature during India's main agricultural growing season has a substantial influence over annual suicide rates, such that heating up the country by just 1 degree C on one day causes approximately 65 annual suicides. This effect appears to materialize through an agricultural channel in which high temperatures cause crop losses and economic distress, leading some to commit suicide in response. Carleton estimates that warming trends experienced in India since 1980 are responsible for a total of over 59,000 suicides.

See the paper here.

Publication: Climate Damage in the United States by Solomon Hsiang

James Rising, Solomon Hsiang, and former lab member Amir Jina, along with other teammates from the Climate Impact Lab, have a new paper out in Science calculating economic damages from climate change in the United States.  

The analysis is the first to construct a "damage function" using micro-level econometric results for a large number of sectors, linked to the full suite of climate models used in CMIP5.  Because the analysis has high spatial resolution, it is able to resolve how impacts of unmitigated climate damages across the country will vary, demonstrating that it will substantially increase economic inequality.

See the paper and an interactive visualization of results.

Hsiang Science USA

Update: The team at the Associated Press did a really nice interactive visualization of the results:

Carleton named 30 under 30 by Pacific Standard by Solomon Hsiang

We're super proud that Tamma Carleton, one of our doctoral fellows, was named one of the top 30 Thinkers Under 30 in Policy and Social Justice by the Pacific Standard! You can read Carleton's profile here

As the human environmental footprint takes on a global scale, I feel that each day I have two choices. One is to shrink back from this problem and decide that as an individual I cannot influence its evolution. The other is to do everything I can to try to inform solutions. Most days, I choose the latter.
— Tamma Carleton, 29

Climate Impact Lab Interactive Maps Launch + NYT Feature by Solomon Hsiang

Two big things happened today. First, our team at the Climate Impact Lab launched an interactive data visualization page where many of our results will be featured as we produce them. You can zoom to the future and see probabilistic outcomes at unprecedented resolution (>24,000 individual regions!).

Second, the New York Times featured the the Impact Lab's work and built their own visualization to illustrate the changing frequency of extremely hot days expected in the future.