Speaking at EmTech MIT 2016, Solomon Hsiang, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, who co-directs the Lab, presented recent research suggesting that climate change will lead to troubling social and economic damages, including a severe…
Adaptation to Cyclone Risk: Evidence from the Global Cross-Section
Hsiang, S.M., D. Narita (2012). Adaptation to Cyclone Risk: Evidence from the Global Cross-Section. Climate Change Economics.
Understanding the feasibility and cost of adaptation is essential to
management of the global climate. Unfortunately, we lack general estimates of
adaptive responses to almost all climatological processes. To address this for one
phenomenon, we estimate the extent of adaption to tropical cyclones (TCs) using the
global cross-section of countries. We reconstruct every TC observed during 1950-
2008 to parameterize countries’ TC climate and year-to-year TC exposure. We then
look for evidence of adaptation by comparing deaths and damages from physically
similar TC events across countries with different TC climatologies. We find that
countries with more intense TC climates suffer lower marginal losses from an actual
TC event, indicating that adaption to this climatological risk occurs but it is costly.
Overall, there is strong evidence that it is both feasible and cost-effective for countries
with intense TC climatologies to invest heavily in adaptation. However, marginal
changes from countries’ current TC climates generate persistent losses, of which only
~3% is “adapted away” in the long run. These findings are consistent with the
Envelope Theorem (Nordhaus, 2010).
In an op-ed for the New York Times, Lab co-directors Solomon Hsiang and Trevor Houser quantify the potential cost of Hurricane Maria for the Puerto Rican economy, and highlight the importance of a large, timely, sustained and well-designed disaster relief…
This month marks the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. It also marks the sixth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Both types of disaster can wreak havoc on an economy. But which is worse, a cyclone or a…