Global Warming to Increase Violent Crime in the United States


CU Boulder-led study predicts millions of additional violent crimes in coming decades.

People in the United States could see tens of thousands of extra violent crimes every year—because of climate change alone.

“Depending on how quickly temperatures rise, we could see two to three million more violent crimes between now and the end of the century than there would be in a non-warming world,” said Ryan Harp, CIRES researcher and lead author of a new study published today in Environmental Research Letters.

In 2018, Harp and his coauthor, Kris Karnauskas, CIRES Fellow and associate professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, mined an FBI crime database and NOAA climate data to identify a set of compelling regional connections between warming and crime rates, especially in winter. Warmer winters appeared to be setting the stage for more violent crimes like assault and robbery, likely because less nasty weather created more opportunities for interactions between people.

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