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Global warming worst case = Only slight misery increase

Peasants wouldn't be revolting, they'd be in clover

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The peasants aren't revolting - they've never had it so good

According to conventional wisdom, though, the world's teeming poor - who spend most of their small incomes on getting enough to eat - would be hit hard. This would lead to widespread famines, misery, possible mass migrations and wars and plagues etc: the disaster scenario as offered by warming alarmists.

Not so much, according to Lobell's colleagues, analysing the consequences of this high-end-of-what-could-happen temperature rise. Many people would indeed be hit hard in the Third World: the urban poor, and those in "semi-arid" nations like Zambia or Malawi where crop yields would be hit extra hard.

But small farmers in other nations, a group which accounts for very large numbers of people, would be very happy: rising food prices would lift them out of their hardscrabble existences and make them comparatively well-off.

Across the 15 developing nations modelled, the misery would slightly outweigh the prosperity: but overall the poverty rate would increase by only 3 per cent in the almost-worst-case +1.5°C scenario.

The same effect would act in reverse, however, supposing the IPCC dice come up double six rather than snake-eyes, and temperatures climb only 0.5°C. This would see crop yields actually rise and food prices dropping, which in theory would be excellent news for the world's poor. But the small farmers would be hit hard, taking a lot of the edge off the good news: poverty rates among self-employed farmers in Thailand, for instance, would soar by 60 per cent.

Improvements to the lot of the non-farming poor would be relatively modest in the high-yield scenario, according to the FSE. Poor non-farmer Thais would see "a slight drop in poverty", and even in semi-arid Africa the townsmen would only see a 5 per cent misery drop.

All in all, from what the researchers say, the likeliest result is that no disasters can be expected. Even if the worst predictions come true, overall the world's poorest will still be only slightly worse off than they are now and the various catastrophes foretold would seem unlikely.

There's more detail from Stanford here for those interested. ®

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