Climate change will cause 22,000 murders apparently

There's an interesting new piece of research that tells us that climate change is going to cause an extra 22,000 murders in the US over the rest of this century.

Between 2010 and 2099, climate change will 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 in the United States.

Hey, it's peer reviewed so it must be true, right?

Unfortunately I rather doubt that it is true. Looking at an earlier version of the same paper gives me the reason why.

However, there is no obvious cross-sectional relationship between the temperature zones and crime rates.

So let's just walk through what has been done here. There's a well known connection between temperature and crime rates. Warmer summer evenings lead to more boys out on the stoop with their beers and that mixture of boys and beer does indeed lead to more public crime. Gary Becker has written extensively on this very subject. So, great, we might then assume that if the world gets warmer then there will be more crime: just as we see when temperatures rise today.

However, this is an error: humans don't actually act that way as anyone who has moved from one climactic region to another will know. We adapt very quickly indeed to local conditions. Yes, sure, warm weather for the region leads to more beer stooping. But it is the variation in that local weather that leads to it, not the temperature itself. What might lead to outepils (as the Norwegians put it, outdoor beers,) in Moscow will be a very different temperature from one that will lead to the same in the Algarve as I know from personal experience. A temperature in the latter that will have me in three layers of clothing by the wood fire would in the former have me near naked and worshipping this strange yellow thing in the sky.

It isn't absolute temperature that counts here, it's the variance of temperature in a location. As the paper itself tells us, when it points out that there's no relationship between average temperature in a place and the crime level. It's when things are hotter than normal in a location that crime rises. So, if all temperatures rise over a century then we get the same variance and it is as if everyone has moved south a few tens of miles. And as there's no relationship between moving south a few tens of miles and the crime rate we cannot expect climate change to increase said crime rate.

So, I'm afraid that I think the prediction will fail. Nicely done paper and all that but missing that one crucial point I fear.

And now to be seriously speculative. We here in Central Europe (I've been working all winter just a few hundred miles from the Ukraine) have been having a very warm winter indeed. The jet stream has meant that the weather meant for here has been arriving in the Southern US and vice versa. They get the ice storms and we don't get what we consider to be a proper winter at all. And have a look at the pictures from Maidan Square. There's nary a sign of snow. And there is a good reason why the response of an experienced cop dealing with a riot to the question "What help would you like?" is "A really decent rain or snow storm. Possibly both".

I agree this is indeed very speculative but I do think that Yanukovich would have had a better time of it in a more normal winter.