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August 15, 2022

Notable effort to link fighting climate change to fighting crime

I often preach to my students (and others) that any and every issue of public policy concern can and does become be a crime-and-punishment issue in some way.  As but one example, in recent years I have done a few posts highlighting connections between climate change concerns and crime concerns (see links below).  This new New Republic piece by Liza Featherstone connects these dots with new research under this full headline: "If Republicans Really Wanted to Fight Crime, They’d Support Climate Policy: Summer murders are a perennial problem that conservatives, despite their rhetoric, are uniquely ill-equipped to solve."  Here are excerpts (with links from the original):

We’ve known for years that violent crime increases during the summer months.  In the past, researchers weren’t always sure that it was because of heat, speculating that the summer vacation, with more young men up to no good, was the problem, or that spending time outside, as we do in warm weather, occasions more interaction, for better and for worse.  But newer research has made the links to heat waves much clearer, suggesting that without intervention global warming will lead to more murders.

Research shows that on average, violent crime increases by over 5 percent on days hotter than 85 degrees Fahrenheit compared to days below that threshold.  Studies mapping violent crime and weather in Los Angeles and Chicago show violence reliably rising with the temperature.  This effect has been found by different scholars and in countries all over the world.  A 2021 study using data from 159 countries from 1970 to 2015 even found that higher temperatures were associated with more deaths from terrorist attacksAn Australian study found that daily assault counts rose as the temperature rose, as did another study in Seoul, South KoreaFinnish researchers found that spikes in temperature explained about 10 percent of the variation in that nation’s violent crime rate.

Like many other problems associated with extreme weather, this one hits the poor hardest.  A study by University of Southern California researchers found that extreme heat was especially likely to exacerbate violence in low-income neighborhoods.

Prior related posts:

August 15, 2022 at 02:27 PM | Permalink


What nonsense. We recently cut the murder rate by more than half in a period before the climate hysteria came on the scene, much less any measures supposedly to bring about climate improvement. The decrease was due in significant part to more police and more proactive policing. And the murder rate is much lower in Japan, which has considerably more climate problems than we do.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Aug 15, 2022 5:08:19 PM

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