You may be under the impression that you have already been deluged with all of the projections about the bad things climate change will do to the world in the next century. Not so. It could be worse than you think.

A new study from professors at Stanford and UC-Berkeley uses historical data to examine the effect of rising temperatures on the economic performance of countries around the world. They find, in short, that if the projected temperature rise by the end of this century comes true, the results will be economically catastrophic—much worse than formerly thought, especially for people in poorer, warmer countries. Global inequality, in other words, could be exacerbated to an unthinkable degree. From UC-Berkeley:

The findings indicate climate change will widen global inequality, perhaps dramatically, because warming is good for cold countries, which tend to be richer, and more harmful for hot countries, which tend to be poorer. In the researchers’ benchmark estimate, climate change will reduce average income in the poorest 40 percent of countries by 75 percent in 2100, while the richest 20 percent may experience slight gains.

These projections of the damaging effects of rising temperatures are “five to 10 times as high as in commonly used models” of the past. Also: “The team’s best estimate is that climate change will reduce global economic production by 23 percent in 2100,” meaning that what was formerly thought of as a sort of improbably worse case scenario is, in fact, likely.

The good news is that this sort of economic catastrophe will be headed off by out-of-control wars, terrorism, or global welfare programs of unprecedented scale before we get to 2100. This projection is very bad.

[Photo: Flickr]