November 29, 2018
1 big thing: Tracing a hyped climate stat
EPIC's Amir Jina comments on the controversy surrounding a statistic used in the recent U.S. Climate Assessment report that came from a 2017 study he co-authored.
By Andrew Freedmanvia Axios
In the blitz of media coverage following the Trump administration's Black Friday release of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), one statistic kept popping up:
By the end of the century, global warming could cost the U.S. 10% of its gross domestic product.
I spent part of this week tracking down the origins of that frightening statistic.
Why it matters: This figure has been used to indicate that global warming will inflict massive economic costs on the U.S. if dramatic actions to adapt to climate change and curtail emissions are not taken in the next decade.
- Critics, including the White House, have seized upon the statistic to paint the report as "radical" and "extreme."
- The White House and EPA are attacking the figure and say billionaire activists and research funders Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg are behind it.
Background: The stat can be traced to a 2017 study, published in the journal Science, that quantified the economic costs to the U.S. for various amounts of climate change.
Amir Jina, an economist at the University of Chicago and a co-author of that study, told Axios he was not surprised the 10% statistic was used in the NCA4, but he has been "a little disappointed" at how the media focused on it.
"I still obviously stand by the work that we did, and that number does come from this paper, but I think it needs more nuance in the way that it’s presented,” Jina told Axios.