Part 3 in the Is Global Warming A Hoax? series.
The global warming debate is far from settled. Both sides will continue to argue their points, but seldom does any one ask what the ideal temperature of the Earth is. To me this seems like an important question. Many politicians have recently given us dire warnings about what will happen if we don’t support their environmental plans and implement their legislation… but is a warming Earth actually a bad thing?
There is evidence that shows the Earth may be entering a cooling cycle due to sun spot activity, but for the sake of argument, let us assume it’s a proven fact that the Earth is warming and will continue to warm for some time. Could a warming Earth be beneficial to life? If so, why should we listen to the politicians who want to drastically change our economy and way of life in hopes of avoiding a slight increase in global temperature? This question must be answered before we can consider believing those who keep telling us the sky is falling.
A warming Earth has both positives and negatives. Generally speaking, life is most abundant closer to the equator (rain forests for example) and least abundant at the poles. A slightly warmer Earth would theoretically support more life because a larger amount of land mass would have a tropical climate. Agriculture would also benefit because more land would be available to farm and growing seasons would be longer. However, if the Earth warms enough to increase the size of the tropical regions, large amounts of Arctic and Antarctic ice would melt causing sea levels to rise. This would cause low lying cities to be swallowed by the sea.
Duncan Steel, from the University of Salford, wrote an article about climate that I think partially sheds some light on this question.
Looking at the climate over an extended timescale, longer than the Holocene (the relatively warm past 12,000 years), one sees that the usual condition of Earth is far colder than that enjoyed now. The norm is Ice Age. Cool the climate just a little, and a feedback effect drops the temperature further: the Arctic snowfields creep further south and, because snow reflects away more sunlight than bare ground, the temperature drops lower, more snow falls, and on it goes.
Metaphorically, the global climate is similar to a cliff edge, next to which a drunk is staggering. One step in the wrong direction and over he goes. Although we’d all like things to remain the same, the reality is that nothing, most especially the weather, is constant. Coolings seem to be rapid, and cause disastrous downfalls of civilisation. But we can cope with slow upward trends in temperature. Our mantra should be slow change good, fast change bad.
Given that we cannot stop the occurrence of random steps toward the precipice, what we need to do is arrange for our drunkard to be a safe distance from the cliff edge. That is why global warming is a good thing.
According to Mr. Steel, a warming Earth is a good thing because it causes us to be further away from another ice age. I’ve tried to find some sort of consensus among other experts, but this seems to be a question that is asked very little. In an earlier post I showed how temperatures in the past have been higher and lower than they are now, but it seems that very little research is being done to determine what is ideal. Doesn’t this seem a little strange? The President has told us that we are heading towards a catastrophe caused by global warming, but why is a warmer Earth a catastrophe? South Florida may become flooded by sea water but Greenland may become an attractive place to live. Polar bear populations may decline but grizzly bear populations may rise. Low lying rice paddies in Asia may be gone but areas of Siberia may become fertile farmland.
Humans generally don’t like change and this may be why some are claiming that the sky is falling. But until we know what the ideal temperature of the Earth is, we should not fear a slight change in climate because it may be beneficial for us. Cooler heads must prevail in the global warming debate. We should not be willing to destroy our economy to prevent something that may actually be beneficial to us.
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