Thursday, December 08, 2005

Warming Thoughts on a Cold Day

Today's high temperature in Austin is 30 degrees below normal. So much for global warming. Nevertheless, if global warming is irreversible -- which I doubt -- it comes with a silver lining:

"From a purely evolutionary point of view, warm periods have been exceptionally good to us. Cold periods have been the troublesome ages," [according to Benny Peiser, a social anthropologist at Liverpool John Moores University]. The possible positive side effects of global warming have researchers like Peiser ready for changes to come.

Earth's temperature is expected to rise 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius between 1990 and 2100, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC. One area where this warming could aid society is in terms of health.

In Britain alone, scientists estimate between 20,000 and 40,000 deaths a year are related to cold winter weather. A report (.pdf) from the United Kingdom's Faculty of Public Health found that the number of cold-weather deaths increase by approximately 8,000 for every 1 degree Celsius the temperature falls. Peiser estimates there will be only 2,000 more deaths a year due to an equal rise in temperature, because humans adapt better to hot climates and can rely on air conditioning.

"And Britain isn't even that cold of place in the world respectively," said Peiser. . . .

. . . While Peiser admits the price of global warming will differ for every region of the world, "the benefits outweigh the costs by far," he said.

This could be especially true in regions of Russia where the harsh winters can kill hundreds in a single city. . . .

Fred Singer, president of the Science & Environmental Policy Project, a group that has consistently voiced doubts about the veracity of global warming projections, thinks the IPCC report (.pdf) [which sees an economic loss for developing countries and mixed consequences for developed nations] is wrong because "it deals with only part of the problem."

Singer agrees with conclusions of The Impact of Climate Change. The book finds that a moderate warming will have a positive economic impact on the agriculture and forestry sectors. Since carbon dioxide is used by plants to capture and store energy, there may be a fertilizing effect as levels of the gas rise. This, combined with longer growing seasons, fewer frosts and more precipitation, among other factors, could benefit some economic sectors.

Bring on global warming. I could use some of it today.

Related posts:

Climatology (07/16/04)
Global Warming: Realities and Benefits (07/18/04)
Scientists in a Snit (08/14/04)
Another Blow to Climatology? (08/21/04)
Bad News for Politically Correct Science (10/18/04)
Another Blow to Chicken-Little Science (10/27/04)
Bad News for Enviro-Nuts (11/27/04)
The Hockey Stick Is Broken (01/31/05)
Science in Politics, Politics in Science (05/11/05)
Hurricanes and Global Warming (09/24/05)
Global Warming and the Liberal Agenda (10/12/05)