Estimating Climate Change Damages

This video series overviews the Climate Impact Lab’s data-driven approach to estimating the social cost of carbon and other greenhouse gases. Climate Impact Lab experts give an introduction to core areas of research included in the Data-driven Spatial Climate Impacts Model (DSCIM).

In line with recommendations from the National Academies of Sciences, the Climate Impact Lab is working to leverage recent advances in science and economics to develop the world’s first empirically-derived estimate of the social cost of carbon. As part of this effort, we have designed a fully modular bottom-up architecture, the Data-driven Spatial Climate Impact Model (DSCIM), which integrates climate change damages across multiple sectors of the economy. In this series of short videos, researchers with the Climate Impact Lab introduce the core areas of climate impacts that we focus on and how this research informs our estimates of the social cost of carbon.

To learn more about the Climate Impact Lab’s methods and findings, explore our Research Library.

Mortality Impacts

Our cardiovascular and respiratory systems get stressed when we face hotter and hotter temperatures. This effect is going to be important everywhere in the world as the climate warms, but it will look very different in places that have the means to respond and adapt to those extreme temperatures than in places that do not.

Coastal Impacts

The impact of sea level rise on coastal communities is already recognizable, from more frequent tidal flooding to more intense storm surge during hurricanes. Climate change will only elevate the damage from these kind of flooding and storm surge events. To study these impacts, it is essential to account for how coastal communities may respond and adapt as well as the cost of those decisions. 

Labor Impacts

Everyone’s ability to work is affected by increasing temperatures. Extreme temperatures can weaken cognitive ability, constrain physical intensity, and induce shorter work hours. Because this effect is so pervasive, it is essential to understand the impacts of climate change on labor in order to understand the social cost of carbon. However, the effect of warming temperatures on the global workforce has to date received little attention in evaluations of climate change impacts.

Agricultural Impacts

The agricultural sector’s central role in rural and local economies as well as its importance for human health and security, make understanding the risks posed by climate change important not only for ensuring food security, but for farmer livelihoods, rural communities, and the global economy as a whole. For five of the six crops we study, the impacts of climate change on crop yields range from 25-35% losses on average across the globe.

Energy Impacts

Demand for heating and cooling fluctuates hourly, daily, and seasonally in response to outdoor ambient temperatures. Hotter temperatures will increase demand for residential and commercial air conditioning run on electricity, but net global energy expenditures will decrease slightly because of climate change. However, this global average masks a lot of inequality at the local level around the world.