El Niño: Relief for California, disaster for the tropics?

The anticipated El Niño of 2015 could prove a boon for skiers and farmers in California.

tropical beach

(Nat Edwards via Wikimedia Commons)

But this climate phenomenon typically “creates winners and losers on a global scale,” note UC Berkeley’s Solomon Hsiang, a public-policy expert, and UC Santa Barbara economist Kyle Meng, in an op-ed in the Guardian. “Each year is like planetary roulette, and the current forecast is for families in the tropics to suffer in the coming months.”

Hsiang, Meng and other experts in climate science and economics have documented the toll of El Niño events that have occurred over the past half century — everything from crop failures to civil conflicts — in a series of scientific papers.

Our enhanced understanding of the potential toll, combined with other factors such as faster access to information, can be leveraged to help diminish suffering from this year’s El Niño, the co-authors say.

Read their call for deliberate action in the temperate zones to mitigate the human toll in the tropics in their Guardian op-ed.