Some Metrics of Climate Change Adaptation in the Developing World
Climate change poses major challenges for every person. What metrics would indicate that people in the developing world are making significant progress in adapting to the challenge?
Death Tolls from Natural Disasters: Controlling for a nation’s population count, are more recent natural disasters causing fewer deaths than in the past? My 2005 paper argues that we should see this optimistic result. In recent years, do we? Going forward in our age of Cell Phone technology and early warnings, will death counts fall further?
Infant Mortality —- Does this key indicator continue to decline?
Children’s heights at age 15 —In the poorest nations, do we observe heights for 15 year olds in recent calendar years rise relative to earlier cohorts? This is a great indicator of early life nutrition.
Survival and Productivity during heat waves; With the spread of access to air conditioning increasing in the developing world, is the correlation between morbidity and mortality and extreme outdoor heat shrinking as it has in rich cities as Phoenix and Las Vegas?
Family $ transfers and sending young adults to work in the City; Robert Townsend’s work on risk and diversification is crucial here. If climate change increases the variability of farming yields then families have an incentive to educate children to prepare them to work in the city and these young adults can remit $ back to the countryside using mobile banking technology. If this takes place then the correlation between rural weather shocks and rural resident consumption declines. That would be an optimistic adaptation finding that would indicate that rural people are not passive victims in the face of climate change. Self interested people take steps to protect themselves and this fuels adaptation.
People in the developing world face even greater adaptation challenges. We discuss some of these issues in this economics survey chapter
Finally, for those of you who want to read more about my thoughts about adaptation by urban slum dwellers in poor nations please read this.