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Climate Damages by 2050 Will Be 6x the Cost of Limiting Global Warming


Friday, April 19th, 2024

Today’s core story is about: Climate damages.


Equal shares of Americans (36%) say the U.S. is doing “too much” and “too little” for Ukraine. The figures represent a change from October 2023, when 41% of adults said the U.S. was doing “too much” and 25% said it was doing “too little,” according to a new survey by Gallup.

Black and Native Americans live fewer years and are more likely to die early from preventable illnesses than white and Asian Americans. “Health equity does not exist in any state in the U.S.,” said David Riley, author of a new report by the Commonwealth Fund. 

Artificial intelligence tools match or exceed human performance in tasks including reading comprehension, image classification, and mathematics. At the same time, the rapid progress being made in the development of AI systems also means many of the common benchmarks and tests for assessing the tools are becoming obsolete, according to a new report by researchers at Stanford University.

The world’s leading astronomers gathered this week to question the conventional view of the universe. The meeting at London’s Royal Society confronted the possibility that scientists have been wrong about some of our most fundamental understandings of the universe, including the century-old theory that it’s expanding at a constant rate.

Climate Damages by 2050 Will Be 6x the Cost of Limiting Global Warming


A new study by researchers at the Potsdam Institute in Germany found the world is already committed to an income reduction of 19% by 2050 due to climate change, costing the global economy around $38 trillion per year. 

What to know: 

The study analyzed how more than 1,600 regions worldwide have responded to the last 40 years of global warming, projecting the effects forward to 2050 to assess the future impacts of warming on economic growth.

  • The team found that even if carbon emissions were drastically cut today, the global economy is already committed to a reduction of 19% each year compared to where the world’s economic growth would have reached absent climate change. 

  • Under a middle-of-the-road scenario, the reduction will translate to an annual economic loss of around $38 trillion, around six times more than estimated costs of limiting global warming to 2°C.

The study found the economic loss is driven mainly by rising temperatures, followed by changes in rainfall and temperature variability, that will impact various activities relevant for economic growth, like agricultural yields and labor productivity.

  • While the damages will happen worldwide, the countries least responsible for climate change will suffer income loss 60% greater than higher-income countries and 40% greater than higher-emission countries.

Why it matters: 

The researchers say their work shows it’s cheaper to mitigate global warming than to not do so, even without considering things like the loss of life or biodiversity.

  • “Our analysis shows that climate change will cause massive economic damages within the next 25 years in almost all countries around the world,” said lead author Leonie Wenz.

  • “[W]e have to cut down our emissions drastically and immediately – if not, economic losses will become even bigger in the second half of the century, amounting to up to 60% on global average by 2100,” Wenz added.



Pregnancy Complications Are Linked to an Increased Risk of Early Death, Even Decades Later

A new study by researchers at UTHealth Houston found pregnancy complications, like gestational diabetes or preeclampsia, may increase the risk of early death for mothers, even decades after giving birth. 

Increased risk: 

  • The researchers analyzed a cohort of more than 2 million women who gave birth in Sweden between 1973 and 2015, examining how five major pregnancy complications (gestational diabetes, preterm delivery, infants with low birth weight, preeclampsia, and other disorders related to high blood pressure) impacted mortality.  

  • The team found all five complications were independently associated with higher mortality risk: 52% higher for gestational diabetes, 41% higher for preterm delivery, 30% higher for delivering a baby with low birth weight, 13% higher for preeclampsia, and 27% higher for other hypertensive disorders. Overall, women who experienced any of the five complications had up to a 1.5-fold increased risk of death up to 46 years after delivery. 




Black Prisoners Are More Likely to Suffer Botched Executions 

A new report by nonprofit human rights group Reprieve examined the 1,407 lethal injection executions performed in the U.S. since 1982, finding Black prisoners suffered significantly more botched executions than prisoners of other races. 

Lethal disparities: 

  • The report found lethal injections of Black prisoners were botched more than twice as often as those of white prisoners, finding half of the total number of botched executions nationwide were those of Black people, despite the group representing only a third of all executed prisoners.

  • The disparities were even worse in certain states, like Georgia, where 86% of botched executions were of Black prisoners, and Oklahoma, where Black prisoners accounted for 83%, despite the group representing just 30% of all executions in the two states, respectively.




Americans Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep

A new survey by Gallup found just 26% of U.S. adults say they get eight or more hours of sleep per night, down from 34% in 2013, while 20% report getting five or less hours, up from 14%.

Less sleep: 

  • The survey found 57% of Americans say they’d feel better if they got more sleep, while 42% say they get the amount they need. The figures represent a near complete reversal from 2013, when 56% of adults said they got enough sleep and 43% said they didn’t. 

  • Going back even further, in 1942, Gallup found 59% of U.S. adults reported getting eight or more hours of sleep per night and just 3% got five hours or less. By 1990, just 27% of adults reported getting eight or more hours of sleep each night, while 14% reported less than five hours.


Some People See More Images Per Second

A new study by researchers at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland found some people perceive rapidly changing visual cues at frequencies others cannot, meaning they access more visual information per timeframe than other people. 

Quick eyes:

To test participants’ “temporal resolution” (the rate at which a person perceives the world), the team measured the maximum frequency at which an individual could perceive a flickering light.

  • If the light flickered above their threshold, they weren’t able to see it flickering and instead saw the light as steady. 

The experiments revealed some participants saw the light as completely still when it was in fact flashing at around 35 times per second, while others were still able to perceive flickering at rates of over 60 times per second.

  • The researchers say the considerable variations among participants suggests some people effectively see more images per second than others.

Potential advantage:

While the researchers do not yet know how the variations in temporal resolutions affect people’s day-to-day lives, they believe the differences could help in situations where a person needs to locate or track fast-moving objects, like in sports or competitive gaming.

  • “This suggests that some people may have an advantage over others before they have even picked up a racquet and hit a tennis ball, or grabbed a controller and jumped into some fantasy world online,” said study author Clinton Haarlem.



Long Video. How did the cannabis plant come to be? (12 min) 

Short Video. Here’s the psychology behind how to get motivated even when you don’t feel like it. (5 min)

Fun Video. Check out the new fully electric Atlas Robot by Boston Dynamics. (4 min)

Good Read. Has the world entered the Anthropocene? (1,334 words; 6 min)

Neat List. Check out 25 stunning images from this year’s World Press Photo Contest.


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Written by Ryan Wittler