Publication: measuring effects of geoengineering on agriculture using volcanoes by Solomon Hsiang

Jon ProctorSolomon Hsiang, and coauthors published a study in Nature estimating the effect of solar radiation management (SRM) on global agricultural production. The paper exploits the historical eruption of massive volcanoes that inject sulfate aerosols into the stratosphere to understand the effect of changing light conditions on crop yields. The paper finds that benefits from cooling, the intended effect of SRM, are fully offset by harm to yields via shading. 

Read the study ungated here.

A resource page for the article is here.

Press release here.

Visualization of the stratospheric sulfate aerosols injected into the atmosphere after the eruption of Mt Pinatubo. Each frame is a month. Visualization by Jon Proctor & Solomon Hsiang.

WSJ economics column on mortality costs of climate change by Solomon Hsiang

Greg Ip discussed our research into the global economic costs of excess mortality risk caused by climate change in his recent Wall Street Journal column.

The research covered in the article is output from the Climate Impact Lab, a collaboration between the GPL at Berkeley, EPIC at U Chicago, The Rutgers Earth System Science & Policy Lab, and the Rhodium Group.

Credit: Wall Street Journal

Credit: Wall Street Journal

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.