Friday, June 06, 2014

Hot Climate Adaptation: Evidence from LeBron James vs. Tony Parker

LeBron James was in great pain last night as he played game #1 of the NBA finals in the hot indoors.  Other international players suffered less.  To quote Tony Parker;  "Felt like I was playing in the European Championship. We never have AC in Europe, so it didn't bother me at all."  The contrast between James and Parker has relevance for the recent literature on adapting to climate change.   Why would the international players be better able to cope with the heat? Because, they have experienced those conditions before.  In contrast, the "King" is pampered. His rugged body has always ran around in perfect climate controlled conditions.    This differential ability to cope with "new news" (i.e that the air conditioning is not working) is a key part of the economics of climate change adaptation.

 I am a climate change adaptation optimist.   In the short run, climate change imposes costs (see James' game #1 stats and his inability to play at the end) but the adaptability of the international players highlights our long run ability to cope.   How long is the short run?  Keynes half joked that we are "all dead in the long run" but this is over-stated.  Forward looking people who are eager to continue to thrive facing new climate conditions will make a series of adjustments in their lifestyle to thrive under the new conditions.

I'm writing a new paper on this point related to the electricity consumption of hotels in hot versus cooler summer places. We posit that those hotels located in hot places (think of Phoenix) have made investments in durables such that they don't crank up their electricity consumption that much during hot days relative to colder places that are not ready for a similarly hot day.   Do you see the analogy between Parker and James in game #1? Maybe we will title the paper; "Hotel Electricity Consumption on Hot Days:  Parker vs. James".