Climate Change and Crime
By John-Miguel Dalbey
While the famed rule of thumb in statistics is that “correlation does not imply causation,” a recent article published in the LA Times suggests some very interesting correlations, citing a study in this week’s issue of the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management conducted by Matthew Ranson, a researcher from Cambridge, Massachusetts. The study is based upon a noted statistic from the FBI that crime rates and warmer weather have a positive correlation, possibly due to the fact that cold weather deters activity, while warm weather encourages people to spend more time outside. Based on this, the study suggests that “between 2010 and 2099, climate change can be expected to cause an additional 22,000 murders, 180,000 cases of rape, 1.2 million aggravated assaults, 2.3 million simple assaults, 260,000 robberies, 1.3 million burglaries, 2.2 million cases of larceny and 580,000 cases of vehicle theft.” The cost of these crimes alone is estimated to be between $38 and $115 billion, which includes the need for an “immediate and permanent” four percent increase in the United States’ police force. The study draws upon analyzed data from the FBI, covering three decades and 891,000 month-by-month observations of crime patterns from individual countries. The study also draws upon the National Climatic Data Center’s projections of future temperature rises related to climate change, based on 15 models of global weather.
While none of these statistical projections are certain, they raise an important point: the consequences of climate change will be much farther-reaching than a simple spike in temperature, change in weather patterns or even a loss of crops and water. The sociological effects of these changes will also be far-reaching and as difficult to predict as those in global weather.
American Forests has done much to combat climate change as a whole, with replanting efforts across the globe. Any number of our Global ReLeaf programs involving the replanting of trees will also involve carbon sequestration, helping combat emissions and climate change.