By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times
A new study broadens a notion held by the earliest criminologists: Periods of higher temperatures — on an hour-by-hour or week-to-week basis — are likely to produce more crime.
The study by Matthew Ranson of Abt Associates, a research and consulting firm in Cambridge, Mass., suggests global warming will trigger more U.S. crimes including murders and rapes over the next century, with social costs estimated to run as high as $115 billion.
Between 2010 and 2099, climate change can be expected to 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, the study published this week in the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management says.
Compared with the number of crimes expected to occur during this period in the absence of climate change, these figures represent a 2.2 percent increase in murders, a 3.1 percent increase in cases of rape, a 2.3 percent increase in aggravated assaults, a 1.2 percent increase in simple assaults, a 1 percent increase in robberies, a 0.9 percent increase in burglaries, a 0.5 percent increase in cases of larceny and a 0.8 percent increase in cases of vehicle theft, the study says.
The social costs of these increases would be roughly $38 billion to $115 billion, based on dollar values of per-offense losses established by earlier research.
“A 1 percent to 3 percent increase in a particular crime may seem modest,” Ranson said in an interview. “But for victims, survivors and law enforcement, the burden of those numbers can be very substantial.