The paper concludes that traditional research into one element of climate change and its effects can miss the bigger picture of interrelation and risk.
Climate change also has different effects on the world’s haves and have-nots, the authors found: “The largest losses of human life during extreme climatic events occurred in developing nations, whereas developed nations commonly face a high economic burden of damages and requirements for adaptation.”
People are not generally attuned to dealing with problems like climate change, Dr. Mora said. “We as humans don’t feel the pain of people who are far away or far into the future,” he said. “We normally care about people who are close to us or that are impacting us, or things that will happen tomorrow.”
And so, he said, people tend to look at events far in the future and tell themselves, “We can deal with these things later, we have more pressing problems now.” But, he added, this research “documented how bad this already is.”
The paper includes an interactive map of the various hazards under different emissions scenarios for any location in the world, produced by Esri, which develops geographic information systems. “We see that climate change is literally redrawing the lines on the map, and revealing the threats that our world faces at every level,” said Dawn Wright, the company’s chief scientist.
Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University who was not involved in the paper, said it underscored the urgency for action to curb the effects of climate change and showed that “the costs of inaction greatly outweigh the costs of taking action.”
Dr. Mann published a recent paper suggesting that climate change effects on the jet stream are contributing to a range of extreme summer weather events, such as heat waves in North America, Europe and Asia, California’s wildfires and flooding in Japan. The new study, he said, dovetails with that research, and “is, if anything, overly conservative” — that is, it may underestimate the threats and costs associated with human-caused climate change.