Energy

Feds Spend $1.4 Million Studying How Global Warming Will Harm ‘Fictitious’ Fishing Towns

REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor

Ever wonder how global warming will affect fishing communities that don’t actually exist? Probably not, but the federal government gave university academics funds to research it anyway.

Researchers with Yale, Rutgers and Princeton recently published a study examining how “fictitious fishing communities” were affected by “climate-driven shifts in fish populations,” according to a press release of the study. The study claims global warming will cause a massive “natural wealth transfer” from equatorial regions to northern latitudes.

According to their release, the researchers illustrated their case by modelling “potential outcomes in two fictitious fishing communities (Northport and Southport) in the face of climate-driven shifts in fish populations.”

“We tend to think of climate change as just a problem of physics and biology,” Malin Pinsky, a professor at Rutgers and study co-author, said in a statement.“But people react to climate change as well, and at the moment we don’t have a good understanding for the impacts of human behavior on natural resources affected by climate change.”

The study was funded as part of three National Science Foundation (NSF) grants handed out in 2014, according to a Yale spokesman. In total, taxpayers gave scientists $1.4 million to examine how global warming could spur fish migrations — all by studying fishing communities that don’t exist.

NSF gave Pinsky of Rutgers $1,110,024 in 2014 as part of the study. NSF also gave Simon Levin of Princeton and Eli Fenichel of Yale $135,442 and $150,514, respectively, to see how “coastal sustainability” will be impacted by global warming.

“An interdisciplinary team of scientists will use dynamic range and statistical models with four decades of geo-referenced data on fisheries catch and fish biogeography to determine how fish populations are affected by the cumulative impacts of fishing, climate, and changing species interactions,” according to the NSF grant.

“The group will then use comprehensive information on changes in fisher behavior to understand how fishers respond to changes in species distribution and abundance,” the grant says. “Interviews will explore the social, regulatory, and economic factors that shape these strategies.”

“Finally, a bioeconomic model for summer flounder and hake fisheries will examine how spatial distribution of regulatory authority, social feedbacks within human communities, and uncertainty affect society’s ability to maintain natural and social capital,” according to the grant.

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