Each time I post something on the environment, a number of readers admonish me to get back to economics. Well, it’s been obvious to many observers that the two are interlinked. Consider one graph from NOAA, and two others from Economic Benefits of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages, a joint CEA and DOE report, released on Tuesday.
First, documentation of rising global temperatures, particularly on land.
Figure 1: Source: NOAA.
Second, the weather related impacts on the US power grid.
Figure from Economic Benefits of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages (August 2013).
Update, 8/16, 3:45PM Pacific: Reader Bruce Hall characterizes imminent temperatures in technical terms as “Whoop-dee-do!” I should have included in the post a depiction of the distribution of temperatures (so, including first and second moments), as I did in this post. To remind readers, here is again Figure 1-1, the evolution of the distribution of the Northern Hemisphere land Temperature Anomaly for Jun-Aug.
Note the support of the distribution is moving to the right and widening. It’s not just the mean temperature that is rising; variability is too.
I will further note that to me, this issue is not merely abstract; in 2001 in the G.W. Bush CEA, I was tasked to assess the macroeconomic impact of rolling blackouts in California (then my home state). In that case, weather was not the primary factor — rather it was the actions of Enron et al.  But the principle remains — the grid is important to economic activity.
Update, 8/17, 1:45PM Pacific: Since Econbrowser has a large audience of people interested in economics, I thought it useful to post estimates of the human-activity-related component of global climate change (on average, warming), from a well-known econometrician. From Kaufmann, Kauppi, and Stock, “Emissions, Concentrations, and Temperature: A Time Series Analysis,” Climatic Change (2006):
Figure from Kaufmann, Kauppi, and Stock, “Emissions, Concentrations, and Temperature: A Time Series Analysis,” Climatic Change (2006).
The graph can be read as follows: Solid gray line is actual, gray dot-dash-dot line (the one plunging) is the component of temperatures due to natural factors, gray dash line is fitted values, and the black dotted line is the component due to human activity. The predicted values are generated from a fairly simple four equation simultaneous equations model, so economists can understand the approach.
For those who might not be aware, James Stock is well known econometrician, who has contributed to the unit root testing, cointegration and macroeconometrics literature. (He’s ranked 32 at IDEAS, if you were doubting his credentials.)