The phenomenon of global warming has been used to explain many things, but now Mother Jones is quoting a study saying it might cause more rapes of women.
Matthew Ranson, an economist, avers that there is a historical connection between warmer temperatures and increased crime. He said, “Looking at the past, we see a strong relationship between temperature and crime. We think that is likely to continue in the future.”
Ranson utilized the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s projections of the effects of global warming in the U.S. to estimate that between 2010 and 2099, warmer temperatures 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.”
That amounts to 2.2% more murders and 3.1% more rapes. John Roman, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, agreed with Ranson that the warmer temperatures would indeed be a problem, saying, “To the extent that climate change causes people to be out and interacting more, there will be more crime.”
Ranson elaborated that there were various reasons why the warmer temperatures would foment more crime, alleging that “warmer temperatures increase the frequency of social interactions, some small percentage of which result in violence,” and people become more aggressive in increased heat.
However, Ranson also argues that the temperatures were no excuse for bad behavior:
The decision to a commit a crime is a matter of personal responsibility. 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.
Andrew Holland, a senior fellow for energy and climate at the American Security Project, is skeptical about Ranson’s conclusions, saying the study seems “tailor-made for a headline” but that “on further analysis, I don’t know what it tells us… Just like any war has many reasons for starting, any crime has many factors that go into it. You can’t convince me that any one rape was solely because of the temperature.” Holland added that trying to ascertain what factor impels a crime can be “an interesting mathematical exercise,” but is not “useful or helpful.”
Roman stubbornly sticks with Ranson. He says police have believed “the summer is more dangerous than the winter.” He concludes, “There will be more studies in the future that find these effects. The concept fits with classic crime theory so neatly that we need to start thinking about how to get ahead of this and respond.”
Mother Jones writes that Ranson has two options for dealing with the dreaded scenario he envisions: increasing numbers of police or citizens leaving their homes less often in hot weather and locking their windows. Then Mother Jones offers its own alternative: “reining in the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global warming in the first place.”