I suppose this is another take on the old “[something] happens, women hit hardest” headline that’s been around since women first learned to read, but it’s still always amazing to what extent publications continue to push credulity. In this case, Mother Jones is the offending party, which I suppose shouldn’t be too surprising. As far as left-wing publications go, it’s a far cry from Counterpunch.
“Looking at the past, we see a strong relationship between temperature and crime,” says study author Matthew Ranson, an economist with the policy consulting firm Abt Associates. “We think that is likely to continue in the future.”
Just how much more crime can we expect? Using the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s warming projections, Ranson calculated that from 2010 to 2099, climate change will “cause” an additional “22,000 murders, 180,000 cases of rape, 1.2 million aggravated assaults, 2.3 million simple assaults, 260,000 robberies, 1.3 million burglaries, 2.2 million cases of larceny, and 580,000 cases of vehicle theft” in the United States.
Ranson acknowledges that those results represent a relatively small jump in the overall level of crime—a 2.2 percent increase in murder and a 3.1 percent increase in rape, for instance. Still, says John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, those numbers add up to “a lot of victims” over the course of the century.
The study’s results don’t mean that defendants should be able to argue that they were driven to a life of crime by the weather. “The decision to commit a crime is a matter of personal responsibility,” Ranson explained in an email. “Neither higher outdoor temperatures nor reduced police enforcement are valid excuses for individuals to commit criminal acts. Yet, from a statistical perspective, both cause crime to increase.”
To be fair, the study says all crime is likely to increase, but the Mother Jones headline explicitly singles out rape.
As for whether warm weather correlates with crime, I suppose it might, but then again we can compare Detroit to, say, Singapore, and obviously other factors are at work as well.
But will global warming bring about an unprecedented era of mass rape? If so, whatever are we going to do? I have an idea. Maybe people, including women, should stop taking trips to resorts, using electronic devices, driving, and having access to top-notch medical care and fast emergency responses. This would surely lower carbon emissions. It might lead to a shorter lifespan and lower quality of life, but hey, less rape, right?