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Warmer Temperatures: More Climate Satisfaction in U.S.

At least for the next several decades.

FloridaPalmsGayleBradleyDreamstimeGayle Bradley/DreamstimeGenerally speaking, Americans would be satisfied if the average temperature where they live was a tad higher. Or at least that's what the sociologist Jonathan Kelley concludes in a recent study published in Social Indicators Research. Another study, however, suggests that folks in countries that are already hot will not be so happy.

Kelley, who is based at the University of Nevada, notes that the Paris climate agreement describes a global warming of two degrees Celsius—3.6 degrees Fahrenheit—above pre-industrial levels as "dangerous." Many Americans, he notes, currently live in regions that are at least that much warmer than other parts of the country. (The temperatures over the contiguous 48 states range from 15 degrees Fahrenheit in Minnesota winters to 81 degrees during Florida's torrid summers.) So he combines National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data with survey data to probe how much a two-degree increase would bother Americans.

The survey in question asked a national survey of more than 2,000 Americans to rate how satisfied they were with their summer and winter weather on a scale of 0 to 100. A 25-year old woman in Wisconsin, for example, rated winter in the Badger State at 0 points and summer at 90. Across the nation as a whole, Americans gave their summer weather an average rating of 67 and their winter weather 61. Each extra degree Fahrenheit reduced their satisfaction with summer by -0.82 points, and every higher degree Fahrenheit increased their satisfaction with winter by +1.03 points.

Northerners' feelings about their winters were somewhat negative, with more than 10 percent rating them at 0 points; 30 percent of Southerners scored their winter weather at 100 points. "Such warming will greatly increase Americans' satisfaction with winter weather, especially in the north, and somewhat decrease satisfaction with summer weather in both north and south," reports Kelley. "On balance the nation benefits slightly."

Using NOAA data, Kelley calculates that a 4-degree-Fahrenheit temperature increase would be the equivalent for a typical American of moving about 180 miles south. To experience an average of 4 degrees Fahrenheit warming, a Virginian like me would head for North Carolina. (My wife spent her childhood in North Carolina; it's not so bad.) As it happens, those of us who reside in the Old Dominion rate their summer and winter weather at 61 and 62 points, respectively; those smug North Carolinians correspondingly give theirs 72 and 70 points. Kelley reports that over the year as a whole, residents in warmer states are generally happier with their weather.

Next Kelley compares the weather satisfaction scores of states in comparable temperature bands. For example, the average yearly temperature of states like Minnesota, Maine, North Dakota, and Montana hovers around 44 degrees Fahrenheit; in Michigan, New York, Colorado, and Oregon, it's 48. Parsing the weather preferences in the survey, he finds that southerners' rising dissatisfaction with their climate-change-induced higher summertime temperatures is more than counterbalanced by the increased happiness of northerners with their warmer winters. A four-degree increase in both summer and winter temperatures produces an almost two-point increase in year-round happiness with the weather. More surprisingly, an eight-degree increase in heat yields a two-point increase in weather satisfaction.

Kelley then turns to life-satisfaction surveys to try to figure out what monetary value Americans would put on improved weather. Through a complicated process, he calculates that a one-point increase in weather satisfaction is equivalent to about a $3,000 annual increase in income. "By our (admittedly rough) estimates for 'dangerous' warming's effect over the year as a whole, combining its gains for winter and losses for summer and aggregating over the US as a whole, the $3000 gain from a single climate satisfaction point comes to something like 2 or 3 percent of GDP," he notes. "Two climate satisfaction points, our best guess for the US, would be twice that."

Kelley next points out that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that the losses from a two-degree Celsius (3.6 degree Fahrenheit) average temperature increase would be around two percent of national income. "Thus the changes in the general public's climate satisfaction that we analyze in this paper appear to be, in and of themselves, at least as large as the combined financial implications of all other aspects of global warming," writes Kelley.

A study just last April in Nature more or less bolsters Kelley's conclusions. "We find that 80% of Americans live in counties that are experiencing more pleasant weather than they did four decades ago," the researchers report. "Virtually all Americans are now experiencing the much milder winters that they typically prefer, and these mild winters have not been offset by markedly more uncomfortable summers or other negative changes."

Kelley has a point when he observes that "the effects of the allegedly 'dangerous' 2 degrees Celsius (3 or 4 degrees Fahrenheit) of global warming seem in fact to be small—on average equivalent for a typical American to moving just 180 miles south. Few Americans would find moving from one state to 'dangerously' warmer state further south at all daunting; indeed many make such moves voluntarily over the course of their lives. These effects are not in any obvious way 'dangerous' for vast majority of ordinary citizens."

Now some caveats. As the climate warms, Americans may initially enjoy better weather, but Kelley's study conspicuously does not take into account other consequences of man-made global warming, such rising sea levels, changes in rainfall patterns, the possible inability of plants and animals to adapt, and so forth. In addition, the increase in temperatures down the road may be more than four degrees. As Kelley acknowledges, "Over two or three centuries...it might be a problem."

And if climate change projections are accurate, other parts of the world will not be as fortunate as the United States. According to a study in the February Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, climate models project that even a two-degree Celsius increase around the globe will bring large increases in the frequency of deadly heat waves by the middle of the century, afflicting more than 350 million inhabitants in such megacities as Karachi, Lagos, Kolkata, and Shanghai. Even more alarmingly, a 2015 study in Nature Climate Change projected that the temperatures and humidity around the Persian Gulf would rise so high by 2100 that the region would become uninhabitable because people would be unable to sweat enough to maintain their body temperatures. So some places won't have it as good as Virginia.

In the meantime, the best way to address the deleterious consequences of future warming is to adopt policies that speed up economic growth and technological progress, allowing us to adapt more easily to the changing climate.

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  • Citizen X - #6||

    As it happens, those of us who reside in the Old Dominion rate their summer and winter weather at 61 and 62 points, respectively

    The good news for those of us in Virginia is that it is not possible for summers to become any more humid than they already are.

  • Brian||

    Well, if the people want warmer climate, who am I to stand in their way? You know: democracy and all that.

  • Libertarian||

    Oh that's just great. Now even more people from Canada's scrotum (i.e. Michigan) will be moving to America's drain trap (i.e. Florida). WE'RE FULL! STAY HOME!

  • creech||

    No, actually. If it warms up, more Michiganders - at the margin - will decide to stay home instead of coming down to live with the Mouse.

  • Libertarian||

    I guess you're right. Can I send you some select, artisanal, hand picked Floridians?

  • Stilgar||

    Some of us give winter a 90+ and summer a 10. Just sayin, m'ok?

  • Rhywun||

    Yup. I greatly prefer my winters over my summers. And I don't live in a desert, either.

  • Johnimo||

    I'm with you two. I rate a cold winter 100 if it has deep snow. I'm a cross country skier and I'm liking that winter time. Now I happen to live in Montana and I rate my summer, short as it is, right up there at 100 also, seeing as how the humidity is so low. Bring it all on!

  • Greg F||

    From the CDC:

    https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr076.pdf

    See Figure 1. Crude death rates for weather-related mortality, by age: United States, 2006–2010

    Conclusion:

    Based on information from death certificates, 10,649 deaths were attributed to weather-related causes in the United States during 2006–2010. Nearly one-third of the deaths were attributed to excessive natural heat, and almost two-thirds were attributed to excessive natural cold.

    Warmer is good.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Came to say just that. And the temp increases are nit uniform. Winters and nights will get warmer and summers won't change much. And hugher latitudes will change while the tropics won't do much. Bailey also only highlights hypothetical risks like plant adaptation while ignoring existing plant productivity benefits from co2 fertilization and longer growing seasons. Color me unsurprised.

  • Mike W.||

    Yes, this is something that is commonly ignored. Winter temps are going up much faster than summer temps. It has seemed to me for a long time that a big problem for climate alarmists is that they are trying to make people afraid of good weather...

  • Bra Ket||

    Everything that's bad will get worse and every change will be bad.

    Liberalism is an adjustment disorder.

  • Set Us Up The Chipper||

    In addition, the increase in temperatures down the road may be more than four degrees.

    The increase might be a million degrees!!!!!11111!!!!! Unprecedented !!!111111!!!!!

    The problem with this sort of article is that it assumes the truth of something that has not even come close to being understood. Nobody really knows what ECS is, especially Bailey. Until you know ECS, you don't know jack shit.

  • Set Us Up The Chipper||

    Also most of the "observed" warming is in higher winter temps.

  • ||

    ^ This.

  • Ben-Franklin||

    Bizarre post that appears to have absolutely no basis in any libertarian thought I have ever read. First, you wait to the 11th paragraph to point out that people living in Norfolk or Newport News or Alexandria VA may not be that happy when the sunny-day flooding increases or when the storm surge from the highest storm tides are that much higher - but what the heck the US Tax Payers will kick in our tax dollars from across the US to help them; or when coastal areas see insurance rates continue to increase. But what the heck, if we can find a illogical Reason to ignore climate change a bit longer lets post it?
    I never knew it was a libertarian principle that I should be able to discharge and dump whatever I want into the water and air as long as it is only impacting someone that lives in a different neighborhood and not me.
    [Martin Anderson] "Just as one does not have the right to drop off a bag of garbage on his neighbor's lawn, so does one not have the right to place any garbage in the air or the water or the earth, if it in any way violates the property rights of others."

  • ||

    There is an awful lot of question-begging here. The real kind - not the "raises the question" kind.

  • ||

    In your comment, I mean, although there is some in the article, as well.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    You think an article about one potential small emotional upside to climate change somehow "ignores" climate change? And, in fact, is objectively pro-pollution? Come on, guy, reading's not THAT hard.

  • BYODB||

    You're talking about CO2 jackass. You know, a by product of most of life's respiratory system? Dumping toxic waste into your neighbors drinking water is pretty obviously a huge difference.

  • Greg F||

    First, you wait to the 11th paragraph to point out that people living in Norfolk or Newport News or Alexandria VA may not be that happy when the sunny-day flooding increases or when the storm surge from the highest storm tides are that much higher...

    http://web.vims.edu/GreyLit/VIMS/sramsoe425.pdf

    Present evidence suggests an ASL rise rate of about 1.8 mm/yr in Chesapeake Bay over the 1976-2007 period. Applying this rate uniformly throughout the bay, subsidence rates ranging from about -1.3 mm/yr to -4.0 mm/yr are found, leading to the general conclusion that about 53% of the RSL rise measured at bay water level stations is, on average, due to local subsidence.

    IOW, it's mostly sinking.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    That's what happens when you build a bunch of cities on fractured bedrock at the edge of a meteor crater.

  • Greg F||

    That and pumping out huge quantities of ground water.

  • ||

    IOW, it's mostly sinking.

    And at "1.8 mm/yr in Chesapeake Bay over the 1976-2007 period," we get roughly 2-1/8 inches of sea level rise over a 30-year period. At that rate, a 3-foot sea level rise will take about 500 years.

    But to hear the alarmists talk, we need to start running inland RIGHT NOW.

  • Zeb||

    You aren't very familiar with the work of Ron Bailey, it would appear.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    "Just as one does not have the right to drop off a bag of garbage on his neighbor's lawn, so does one not have the right to place any garbage in the air or the water or the earth, if it in any way violates the property rights of others."

    Compelling argument except for the fact that carbon is not garbage.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    "Just as one does not have the right to drop off a bag of garbage on his neighbor's lawn, so does one not have the right to place any garbage in the air or the water or the earth, if it in any way violates the property rights of others."

    Compelling argument except for the fact that carbon is not garbage.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    Thought I'd finally figured out the comment protocols at Reason. Apparently not.

  • Johnimo||

    We're all putting additional CO2 into the air with each exhale. Oh, yes …. all the other animals with lungs and gills are doing likewise.

  • Longtobefree||

    So to "cure" global warming, all we have to do is prohibit lawyers and liberals from exhaling?
    Oh, wait. CO2 has another name; plant food.

  • Sevo||

    Hey, Ben! Lefties claiming libertarian sympathies show up here to get busted; consider yourself busted:

    "...or when coastal areas see insurance rates continue to increase."
    Any proof (yes, that stuff) that rising insurance rates are a result of 'global warming' as opposed to rising property values?

    "But what the heck, if we can find a illogical Reason to ignore climate change a bit longer lets post it?
    Yeah, 'ignoring it' like posting this article.
    Fuck off, Ben.

  • ||

    "...lawn, so does one not have the right to place any garbage in the air or the water or the earth, if it in any way violates the property rights of others."

    Like your fart?

  • Bramblyspam||

    Of course, as anyone concerned with global warming could tell you, moving 180 miles to the south doesn't raise global sea levels.

    It may be that concerns over rising sea levels are greatly overblown, but you won't succeed in persuading people unless you at least address that point.

  • ||

    I don't think you're going to persuade climate-believers with "weather will get more pleasant for a while," anyway.

  • Griffin3||

    Says who?
    --Pensacola, FL

  • Lord_at_War||

    Says who?
    --Pensacola, FL

    Al Gore- Malibu Beach, CA

  • CE||

    But people are okay with higher sea levels, too -- they want to live closer to the beach.

  • Johnimo||

    Well! If that's not making lemonade out of lemons ….

  • Longtobefree||

    Don't forget to pay the sweetness tax if you use sugar!

  • BYODB||


    So he combines National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data...


    And that's as far as I got before I laughed. It doesn't invalidate the conclusions of the quoted author necessarily since he seems to be polling how much American's 'like' their weather, so in this case it's sort of a 'whatever' from me.


    I do get a laugh out of the idea that the Earth's climate is static unless acted on by man, though. The human brain is fantastic at finding patterns, even where there isn't one. In a system as complex as our Solar system, or even just the Earth, I'm going to go with CO2 being a necessary trace gas that's near it's lowest point in recorded history since that would seem to be a scientific fact instead of a 'climate guess'.


    That's really what all these are, educated guesses that so far have turned out to be consistently wrong.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    Yes. But just because they're consistently wrong doesn't mean that we shouldn't believe them. /scienz!

  • Zeb||


    I do get a laugh out of the idea that the Earth's climate is static unless acted on by man

    Can you point me to where anyone has made that claim?

    And what exactly do you mean by "recorded history"? I'm pretty sure that levels of CO2 are at a high point in the history of recording CO2 concentrations.

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    "And what exactly do you mean by "recorded history"? I'm pretty sure that levels of CO2 are at a high point in the history of recording CO2 concentrations."

    Not even close
    https://www.skepticalscience.com/print.php?r=77

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Using NOAA data, Kelley calculates that a 4-degree-Fahrenheit temperature increase would be the equivalent for a typical American of moving about 180 miles south.

    That would put me south of the Mason-Dixon line. Yuck.

  • Memory Hole||

    *clears throat as a bango plays ominously in the background

    "But y'aaaall, that there would put pretty-little-old-me right smack dab south of that there Mason-Dixion line. Phew."

  • some guy||

    San Francisco is south of the Mason-Dixon line. And Denver is on it.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Gross.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    I'm in corn now. 180 miles would put me in... corn.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Now you're talking!

  • Loss of Reason||

    "And if climate change projections are accurate, other parts of the world will not be as fortunate as the United States. "

    Well, there is always a first for everything. I mean I've heard that we wouldn't have snow in after 2010.

  • ||

    I live in Boise, id. I want the climate of Bisbee, az. That's more than 180 miles.

  • some guy||

    Sounds like you need to up your carbon footprint, then.

  • The Bearded Hobbit||

    Or move to AZ.

    ... Hobbit

  • Zeb||

    As long as we are designing our own climate, I want winter to stay below freezing the whole time, but not get super cold too much. Snow is great. Ice, slush and mud less so.

    Summer could be less humid where I am, but temps are just about right.

  • lap83||

    Winter should look like a vintage Christmas postcard from the day after Thanksgiving until January 1, including the only legal form of transportation being horse-drawn carriages. The rest of the seasons are fine as is, but spring should begin on January 2.

  • Rhywun||

    I would be fine with spring lasting from January 1 until the day before Thanksgiving.

  • Zeb||

    I need more snow than that.

    Are we changing the lengths of days too, or just the temperatures?

  • JWatts||

    As soon as we get the weather satellites in place everything ought to be fine.

    "Real weather satellites don't just report the weather. They change it."

    http://s.ecrater.com/stores/58.....58244b.jpg

  • Gaear Grimsrud||

    The only good thing about snow is it keeps those damn kids from trampling my lawn.

  • yet another dave||

    Woohoo looking forward to some sweet minnesota winter weather.... said nobody in Saskatchewan, we've been waiting for real global warming. Where's that Mr Mann you lying fucker.

  • yet another dave||

    Woohoo looking forward to some sweet minnesota winter weather.... said nobody in Saskatchewan, we've been waiting for real global warming. Where's that Mr Mann you lying fucker.

  • Entelechy||

    "On the other hand, additional projected warming won't be so nice for people who already live in hotter countries."

    Maybe Ron can get Libertarians to pay for a wall to keep them out, and a dyke around Mar Del Lago.

  • buybuydandavis||

    Generally speaking, Americans would be satisfied if the average temperature where they live was a tad higher.

    America First!

  • CE||

    Apparently, they are okay with higher seawater levels too, since many would rather be closer to the beach.

  • Longtobefree||

    I never get tired of it! Here is an oldie but a goodie; the administration referred to is the Nixon administration.

    Adviser Daniel Patrick Moynihan, notable as a Democrat in the administration, urged the administration to initiate a worldwide system of monitoring carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, decades before the issue of global warming came to the public's attention.
    There is widespread agreement that carbon dioxide content will rise 25 percent by 2000, Moynihan wrote in a September 1969 memo.
    "This could increase the average temperature near the earth's surface by 7 degrees Fahrenheit," he wrote. "This in turn could raise the level of the sea by 10 feet. Goodbye New York. Goodbye Washington, for that matter."

    And yet, New York and Washington plague us still.
    The disaster is always several decades in the future; if only we spend a gazillion dollars now, we can avert disaster. Wrong then, wrong now.

  • Set Us Up The Chipper||

    Generally, Bailey likes to assume the truth of the thing he is trying to prove.

  • Daily Beatings||

    Nice alt-text using a photo of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge taken from Fort De Soto park.

  • ||

    Murica First!

  • Mark22||

    Sorry to have to break it to you, but "global warming" occurs almost entirely at higher latitudes.

    For places like Nevada and California, it probably mostly means more precipitation.

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