Global warming benefits

” Scientists say that if natural factors were still governing the climate, the Northern Hemisphere would probably be destined to freeze over again in several thousand years. “We were on this downward slope, presumably going back toward another ice age,” Dr. Marcott said. Instead, scientists believe the enormous increase in greenhouse gases caused by industrialization will almost certainly prevent that.” From NYT

Things are complicated. If indeed human activity has prevented an ice age, I think this is a good thing. If you have to choose between an ice age with lots of polar bears or a warm world with none, it would be bye-bye bears, as far as I am concerned. Of course, in a few thousand years we are all dead anyway.

Posted by Christine & John at March 8, 2013 8:58 PM
Comment #362489

Come on. The natural cycle would have led to Global Cooling over a period of thousands of years. The Warming we see now is occurring in an unprecedented span of just 100 years. That’s extraordinarily fast. That’s not a benefit. That’s bad news.

Posted by: phx8 at March 8, 2013 9:40 PM
Comment #362490


It depends on how much warmer or cooler it gets. If we were in a nature cooling trend and we warmed back up, no real harm done.

Was the climate we had in the 1950s the “real” climate or was that of 5000 years ago better?

Posted by: C&J at March 8, 2013 9:48 PM
Comment #362491

A slightly cooler or warmer climate matters little, as long as the changes are slow and occur over thousands of years. That’s not the issue. The problem today is that the climate is warming very rapidly, and all indications show it will rise faster and higher than anything in human history.

Posted by: phx8 at March 8, 2013 10:42 PM
Comment #362492

There is no such thing as a “real climate”. However, almost all of humanity’s infrastructure and cultural habits are built around the pre-industrial climate of the 18th century and before. Adapting to a different climate will surely be more expensive than the costs of mitigating the change.

Posted by: Warren Porter at March 8, 2013 10:45 PM
Comment #362496


I am with you on the gradual change thing. But I have a fatalist philosophy on big things, i.e. that which cannot be avoided must be welcomed.

My belief is that by around the middle of this century, we will be switching massively to renewables and to some sorts of much improved nuclear power. In the short term 10-20 years, we have the gift of natural gas, which has already allowed the U.S. to significantly reduce emissions and may soon do that in the wider world.

This is a good scenario. However, we have already emitted enough CO2 to warn the earth and our Chinese friends even with an optimistic scenario as above will emit more CO2 in 2020 than the whole world did in 1990. So it will get warmer.

That which cannot be avoided must be welcomed. So my grandchildren will have a warmer world. They will have the option of crying about their fate or making the most of it. I believe that the application of human intelligence will make the world of 2113 as much better than ours as our is from the one of 1913. They will see the warmer world as a net benefit, as their adaptions will be it and their technologies much better than those we dream of today. I think we will still have polar bears in 2113, maybe only in special preserves, but overall life will be better.


See above. We are mitigating change by the rapid conversion to natural gas. We have taken some backward steps, such as not developing nuclear. We are stuck with what we will get. U.S. emission have dropped almost to the level demanded of us by Kyoto, which we never ratified. We have done all that was asked of us, albeit not in the way asked.

Our infrastructure is not set up to the per-industrial climate, which was a bit cooler than “normal” We are built for the middle of the 20th Century. Infrastructure requires constant update. When we renew, we can build for the changes, but the changes in infrastructure will not be as disurptive as you might fear.

One big infrastructure change will be the ports and rail network we will need to build to service the northern sea routes that will cut travel time to Asia across the Arctic Ocean. This will mean relative declines for some of our big ports like Los Angeles as they face greater competition. It will be as ports of Boston or Milwaukee declined as trade emphasis moved to different places and used different technologies.

Think about the growth of our country. From 1830-1880, fifty years, we tamed a continent and built the infrastructure of industry. We can do it again, and again.

Posted by: C&J at March 9, 2013 6:39 AM
Comment #362499

Global Warming is simply another scheme cooked up by scientist to gain billions in tax dollars for research, encouraged by politicians for the purpose of gaining more control over the masses and raising taxes, and worshipped by the left as the latest religion. The data has been proven to be flawed or fanaticized, there is no loss of Polar bears (their numbers have increased, and the facts show winters in the northern hemisphere have been colder than normal. The left, who hates for people to become rich (i.e. not fair on the poor) has had no problem with Al Gore spewing his fraudulent information and making billions. But there is a real purpose for the GW craze; during the Tribulation, when God uses nature to pour his wrath out on humanity, mankind will blame it on GW much like Pharaoh and his soothsayers blamed the plagues of Egypt on Hebrew magic. How does the anti-God left feel about playing right into God’s divine plan for planet earth?

Posted by: DSP2195 at March 9, 2013 10:46 AM
Comment #362504

I know how the left loves facts, so:

Zac Unger moved to Churchill, Manitoba with his wife and three small kids, and set out to prove human-caused climate change was killing off the polar bears.

“My humble plan was to become a hero of the environmental movement. I was going to go up to the Canadian Arctic, I was going to write this mournful elegy for the polar bears, at which point I’d be hailed as the next coming of John Muir and borne aloft on the shoulders of my environmental compatriots …

“So when I got up there, I started realizing polar bears were not in as bad a shape as the conventional wisdom had led me to believe, which was actually very heartening, but didn’t fit well with the book I’d been planning to write.

“… There are far more polar bears alive today than there were 40 years ago. … In 1973, there was a global hunting ban. So once hunting was dramatically reduced, the population exploded.”

Posted by: DSP2195 at March 9, 2013 2:39 PM
Comment #362507

C/J wrote; ” U.S. emission have dropped almost to the level demanded of us by Kyoto, which we never ratified. We have done all that was asked of us, albeit not in the way asked.”

Other countries have not done nearly so well as we have. Is it reasonable to expect other countries to achieve what we have done without asking us to pay for it?

We already spend billions being the world’s policemen, must we now spend trillions to become the world’s carbon scrubbers?

If so, will those liberals please stand up now and tell us what they are willing to cut from OUR national budget to pay for world carbon emission reduction.

Posted by: Royal Flush at March 9, 2013 4:16 PM
Comment #362519

Royal Flush; they are willing to cut nothing, but they are willing for US citizens to pay higher taxes.

Posted by: DSP2195 at March 9, 2013 9:45 PM
Comment #362626
We are built for the middle of the 20th Century.
The mid-20th century featured a climate that was a bit cooler than average. Although the industrial revolution was over a century old by them, there is a lag associated with the greenhouse effect. Also, aerosol emissions contributed to global dimming, which cooled the climate significantly.

In addition, it is not only physical infrastructure, but also human infrastructure that will need to change if we choose to adapt to a warmer climate rather than mitigate the change. Consider agriculture for example. On a warmer Earth, regions that currently support large human populations will no longer do so. There might be new regions that allow for food production elsewhere, but it will be very expensive to either move the food to where the people are or to move the people to where the food is (never mind the geopolitical implications). I’ve used this example before, but I think it is an important one: currently, one of the richest agricultural regions in the world is the Ganges River Delta in Bangladesh. The population density of Bangladesh is the highest in the world of all countries with an area of at least 300 mi^2 and this is no accident. However, a warmer Earth will almost certainly be catastrophic to the over 150 million citizens of Bangladesh (not to mention the nearly 100 million Indian citizens in West Bengal). Sure, we can argue that Siberia or Canada will eventually become productive enough replace the Ganges River delta, but it is still unimaginable to think that Russia and Canada would let nearly a quarter billion Bengalis settle in their territory. And any scheme to export food from Siberia & Canada to wherever the Bengalis resettle seems equally implausible.

From 1830-1880, fifty years, we tamed a continent and built the infrastructure of industry. We can do it again, and again.
We definitely can do it again, the question is it worth the costs (both human and financial) when it would be much cheaper to simply mitigate the change?

If you want your arguments to be respected around here, you’ll need to do more than assert that a scientific theory must be untruth simply because it conflicts with your dogma. The spectral nature of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane and water vapor has been well studied and the empirical results are easily reproducible. We can model an Earth without such gases and conclude that such an Earth would have an average surface temperature of about 250 Kelvin, which is about 50 Kelvin less than what we observe. Evidently, the Earth’s atmosphere must be responsible for the 50 K difference. Further study tells us that CH4, CO2 and H20 gases are the agents primarily responsible for this. It should not be surprising that increasing the concentration of one of these gases should lead to higher average surface temperatures.

Obviously, things such as feedback loops and the like muck up our analysis a bit. Nevertheless, this topic has been the focus of a great deal of research and all evidence points to a system of feedback loops that will amplify rather than attenuate any perturbation we make to the atmosphere’s CO2 concentration.

Posted by: Warren Porter at March 10, 2013 3:35 PM
Comment #362631


We don’t have two options, one to keep the current climate and the other to warm up. We have one option - adapt to the warmer earth.

We Americans have reduced CO2. Others have not followed our example, as we heard they would. The world will not reach lower CO2 goals. The die is cast.

There will be some interesting benefits and losses. Agriculture production, with the help of GMOs will easily keep pace. Brazil, which lies almost completely in the tropics, was a net food importer in 1970. Today it is the second leading exporter. They developed crops and techniques that are adapted to environments where experts a generation ago told us they couldn’t grow. We will do the same.

Geopolitics will be interesting. It will be a big task for our diplomacy and our military. But we adapted to proportionally bigger movements provoked by the wars, famines and simple economics of the last century.

I have no doubt that the world of 2113 will be better than ours. We have to start figuring out how to make this happen.

Posted by: C&J at March 10, 2013 4:17 PM
Comment #362632
We don’t have two options, one to keep the current climate and the other to warm up. We have one option - adapt to the warmer earth.

I still think we have a chance to limit the warming enough so that we don’t have to do much adapting. I could be wrong, but I still think it makes the most sense to at the very least put a price on carbon dioxide so the market gets to decide the best course (adapt or mitigate). The lack of such a price signal in the market remains quite disturbing.

Geopolitics will be interesting. It will be a big task for our diplomacy and our military. But we adapted to proportionally bigger movements provoked by the wars, famines and simple economics of the last century.
Do we really want geopolitics to be “interesting”? As you point out, other mass human migrations were often accompanied by war and violence; these are not things things we should be hoping for. We are supposedly an immigrant-friendly country, but look at the huge debate we’ve had over the past couple of decades regarding immigration from Latin America. Do you really believe sub-polar nations will welcome a quarter billion Bengalis with open arms? I fear an outcome where the Bengalis might be forced to perish because Russia wants to reserve Siberia for itself and threatens military action against anyone who disagrees. We have no framework to compel Russia to accept the resettlement of refugees into Siberia. Posted by: Warren Porter at March 10, 2013 6:14 PM
Comment #362633


There is one word in global warming these days -China. What we do makes little difference when the Chinese will produce as much c02 in 2020 as the whole world did in 1990.

As I said, I think we will be moving quickly to renewables by 2050. In the short term, the only things that will have effects are natural gas and nuclear.

Re - “Do we really want geopolitics to be ‘interesting’”? - no, but we are already falling down the path. I am not hoping for this. I don’t like it. But we have suffered through worse. We need to be sure to maintain American power and influence so we get the best outcome.

“We have no framework to compel Russia to accept the resettlement of refugees into Siberia.” I am glad we don’t. Such a framework might also compel our country to do things we don’t want.

However, the world of 2013 will be different than today’s. New technologies will make everything easier. There will be ongoing labor shortages as populations begin to come down. In fact, Russia’s population will be one of the earliest to decline.

Lots of these problems have a way of not happening, BTW. I recall in the late 1980s working on plans to absorb the massive flow of millions of refugees expects to come from the crumbling Soviet Empire. The problem never happened.

We can probably adapt to most global changes. I prefer to avoid another century like the 20th. I think we are smarter now. Most of the terrors of the last century resulted from the communist/fascists/Nazi complex. They were worse than the climate change we will face.

Posted by: C&J at March 10, 2013 7:04 PM
Comment #362825

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