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The impact of climate change on human behavior

Obscured behind the better-known impacts of climate change are a host of potentially more serious effects global leaders have yet to reckon with.

broken glass
It’s plausible that increases in temperature could lead to more human conflict. (Photo credit: Jilbert Ebrahimi / Unsplash)

While climate change is likely to bring rising sea levels, more frequent and stronger storms, as well as vanishing glaciers and coral reefs, experts say there are other lurking impacts that could have a more lasting effect on human behavior and health.

Marshall Burke is a professor of Earth System Science and a fellow at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies who says that recent research shows rising global temperatures will lead to more wars, higher crime rates and greater infant mortality.

On a positive note, he points out that such predictions are starting to seep into cost-benefit calculations and that present-day mitigation could be felt sooner and more deeply than presently thought. Burke says that, in the new math of climate change, the benefits of investment vastly exceed the costs, but we must act soon.

Join host Russ Altman and climate change expert Marshall Burke for a broader look inside the unanticipated effects of climate change and what we can do today to prevent them from becoming reality.

You can listen to the Future of Everything on Sirius XM Insight Channel 121iTunesSoundCloud and Stanford Engineering Magazine.

Russ Altman is the Kenneth Fong professor and professor of bioengineering, of genetics, of medicine (general medical discipline), of biomedical data science and, by courtesy, of computer science. 


Hidden costs

Warming temperatures could increase suicides

Related research

“When talking about climate change, it’s often easy to think in abstractions," says Marshall Burke. "But the thousands of additional suicides that are likely to occur as a result of unmitigated climate change are not just a number, they represent tragic losses for families across the country.”

Air pollution a major cause of infant deaths in sub-Saharan Africa

Related research

“Many wealthy countries have recently used legislation to clean up their air,” Marshall Burke explains. “If countries in Africa could achieve reductions in particulate matter exposure similar to wealthy countries, the benefits to infant health could be larger than nearly all currently used health interventions.”

Media Contacts

Tom Abate
Stanford Engineering
(650) 815-1602,

Marshall Burke
School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences, 650-721-2203

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