Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Global warming is good for all of us

And will be until 2080.

The article is from Matt Ridley, who is another one of these people who writes the same thing again and again, but he is affable and honest, and he gives his sources. Clearly there is a balance between ice age (bad) and too hot (bad) and it is tricky to know exactly where the optimum point in the middle is, but the consensus seems to be, as Ridley says, a little bit hotter than now.

Here are some excerpts:

"The chief benefits of global warming include: fewer winter deaths; lower energy costs; better agricultural yields; probably fewer droughts; maybe richer biodiversity. It is a little-known fact that winter deaths exceed summer deaths — not just in countries like Britain but also those with very warm summers, including Greece. Both Britain and Greece see mortality rates rise by 18 per cent each winter. Especially cold winters cause a rise in heart failures far greater than the rise in deaths during heatwaves.

Cold, not the heat, is the biggest killer. For the last decade, Brits have been dying from the cold at the average rate of 29,000 excess deaths each winter. Compare this to the heatwave ten years ago, which claimed 15,000 lives in France and just 2,000 in Britain. In the ten years since, there has been no summer death spike at all. Excess winter deaths hit the poor harder than the rich for the obvious reason: they cannot afford heating. And it is not just those at risk who benefit from moderate warming. Global warming has so far cut heating bills more than it has raised cooling bills.
The increase in average carbon dioxide levels over the past century, from 0.03 per cent to 0.04 per cent of the air, has had a measurable impact on plant growth rates. It is responsible for a startling change in the amount of greenery on the planet. ... Greening is especially pronounced in dry areas like the Sahel region of Africa, where satellites show a big increase in green vegetation since the 1970s.

Finally, one bit that deserves wider publicity: "cherry-picking the bad news remains rife. A remarkable example of this was the IPCC’s last report in 2007, which said that global warming would cause ‘hundreds of millions of people [to be] exposed to increased water stress’ under four different scenarios of future warming. It cited a study, which had also counted numbers of people at reduced risk of water stress — and in each case that number was higher. The IPCC simply omitted the positive numbers."

Of course, the fact that global warming will be net beneficial for a few years yet does not mean that it should be allowed to continue forever. But it has to go into the cost-benefit analysis.

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