A recent study attempting to quantify some of the economic costs of a warming climate argues that the optimal temperature for human productivity seems to be 13°C. As the Washington Post reports:

Culling together economic and temperature data for over 100 wealthy and poorer countries alike over 50 years, the researchers assert that the optimum temperature for human productivity is seems to be around 13 degrees Celsius or roughly 55 degrees Fahrenheit, as an annual average for a particular place.

But there is already a large corpus of literature attempting to explain why wealth and productivity differ in different countries and most of these see temperature as a minor or accidental factor. Examples are Wealth and Poverty of Nations by David Landes and Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond.

So is the optimal climate for human productivity an average temperature of 13°C?

  • I've removed your personal take on the matter and made the question neutral – Sklivvz Oct 24 '15 at 12:33
  • Actually you have altered the question. The study clearly claims this: the question is whether this claim makes sense. And the question as posed was neutral despite my personal take which simply described some reasons why skepticism seems warranted but didn't slant the question as asked. I think you are imposing too strong a standard on neutrality in language. I think questions are better if they at least admit some grounds for skepticism. – matt_black Oct 24 '15 at 12:40
  • I know, but skeptics is not the place for "the study makes sense". maybe you can ask that question on earthscience.stackexchange.com. The change is to make the question on topic, if you prefer revert and I'll migrate. – Sklivvz Oct 24 '15 at 12:42
  • @Sklivvz I don't really see how this differs from standard skeptics questions like "does WiFi give you headaches". A claim is made and attracts significant public attention. This site asks whether the weight of evidence justifies the headlines. Good answers have to deal with the evidence for or against. Where is the problem with that? – matt_black Oct 24 '15 at 12:46
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    @Sklivvz I don't think we are reading the same paper. From the summary: "We show that overall economic productivity is non-linear in temperature for all countries, with productivity peaking at an annual average temperature of 13 °C and declining strongly at higher temperatures" and "warming is expected to reshape the global economy by reducing average global incomes roughly 23%". In what possible sense is this not a claim of causality? – matt_black Oct 24 '15 at 13:22

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