Social and economic impacts of climate

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Science  09 Sep 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6304, aad9837
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad9837

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  • RE: On the importance of demographic variables and longitudinal data analyses in climate change research
    • Alok Bhargava, Professor of Public Policy, University of Maryland

    Abstract: This comment on the article “Social and economic impacts of climate” notes several shortcomings in tackling of the demographic and methodological aspects. It is underscored that there is an urgent need to reduce “unwanted” fertility in developing countries, and to compile elaborate environmental databases at various levels for statistical analyses that can facilitate the formulation of evidence-based policies.

    In their article, Carleton and Hsiang (1) covered various aspects of climate change on agricultural, socioeconomic, demographic, and health indicators. However, several shortcomings in their approach will hamper a cogent understanding of the issues and the formulation of evidence-based policies for reducing adverse effects of climate change. For example, in the section “Demographic effects”, it was puzzling to focus on differential effects of rises in temperatures on survival chances of male fetuses that might affect a small number of births. Instead, the urgent issue facing many developing countries is the higher mortality rates for “unwanted” births especially at high parities (2, 3). Similarly, their handling of “causality” issues in statistical analyses was misleading, and it is important for environmental science research to compile systematic longitudinal databases. It would be helpful to outline some of the shortcomings under two headings.

    Demographic and migration aspects
    Population growth and concomitant increase in e...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.