Global warming will damage economic and political stability to a far greater extent than previously imagined, according to new study.
Benjamin Olken, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said that global warming is not just going to devastate agriculture in developing countries, the link between "high temperatures and poor growth is much stronger than we'd realised."
Olken said that his team's study is the first to link climate change with economic growth, reports New Scientist.
The authors say that high temperatures could even undermine scientific productivity.
If global temperatures rise as predicted, the economic gap between rich and poor nations will have doubled a decade from now. In 50 years'' time the gap will have widened 12-fold.
For the study, the team looked at how temperatures affected economic growth in the past 50 years.
The researchers found that while rich economies seemed resilient to temperature rises, the GDP of poor countries dropped by 1 per cent in years when those temperatures rose 1 °C or more above the regional average.
They also found that the number of scientific papers - a measure of innovation - also fell in poor countries in hot years, as did economic investment in the region.
Breakdown in government was more likely, as were political coups.
Olken said his results are consistent with other studies showing that high temperatures increase civil unrest, and that drought can lead to political instability.
The results were presented last week at a meeting of the American Economics Association, in San Francisco.