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The Upside to Global Warming?

The FT is reporting on a new study that casts doubt on some of the core assumptions of the green movement: that we currently live in the best of all possible climates, and that any departure from that ideal state due to global warming is necessarily a bad thing:

But it also forecasts several benefits of global warming, including the chance to grow commercial crops more suited to warmer climates, and what it calls the “potentially very large” social and economic benefits of falling demand for winter heating that could add up to more than £1bn a year by the 2050s. […]

The agriculture section cites many climate risks, such as increases in drought, pests and disease. But it also discusses possible benefits from higher yields for crops, such as wheat and sugar beet.

Although there would likely be benefits to global warming, it would be wrong to use this as an excuse not to look into the problems it poses. Like any other natural phenomenon, warming would have many effects: some good, some bad, and many impossible to predict.

It seems obvious that these calculations should be taken into account in environmental policy. Yet there have been few serious attempts to determine the costs-minus-benefits of global warming or how much time and energy it makes sense to spend trying to prevent it. The greens have been largely responsible for this oversight. Indeed they have been prepared to pillory anyone who dares suggest that science could lend support to any policy option but their own: a binding global treaty to regulate the economic output of every country on the earth.

The refusal of greens to take seriously the question of netting out the plus and minus aspects of global warming is not an advertisement for the intellectual coherence of a movement that wants to reshape the world based on its projections about the future.

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  • David

    Richard Tol has a review piece in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, and it’s rather astonishing how few studies have been done. On average, of course, the benefits could be positive and large, especially for moderate warming. Of course, as you would expect, the poor can’t adapt as well and will likely get crushed.

  • Greg in Denver

    Bjorn Lomborg has done much work on cost/benefit of warming.

    Me I cannot wait for the English Wine! A Claret anyone?

  • LarryD

    Bjørn Lomborg has been arguing for years that we should just adapt to the changes wrought by global warming (he’s not a skeptic), the greens have treated him like a heretic.

  • Brett

    The article just said that there could be benefits from warmer temperatures from climate change. The problem is that it’s not the warmer temperatures that kill you – it’s the transition, which causes massive ecological disruption.

  • vanderleun

    Ooooooo, scary! Be afraid. Be very afraid!!

  • RSC
  • Walter Sobchak

    It is useless to link FT articles, because, if you are not a subscriber, you will get page that says subscribers only.

    You can avoid that problem, if you have the title and byline, because if feed those into google, it will give you a link that a non subscriber can use. In this case:

    Threats and promises in global warming, says study

    By Pilita Clark

    I could pick those off of the subscriber only page by inspecting its source code with the command Ctrl+U.

  • Corlyss

    “new study that casts doubt on some of the core assumptions of the green movement:”

    Fear not. With the alacrity typical of the Left’s arrogant duplicity, moral blindness, and flexible devotion to “science” when confronted with facts that don’t fit their ideology, the results will be ignored by all the usualy dupes.

    “Bjørn Lomborg has been arguing for years that we should just adapt to the changes wrought by global warming (he’s not a skeptic),”

    Apparently not this week. Stay tuned. I want to know what the facts are that turned him against his prior skepticism. Maybe he just revolves to stay relevant.

  • Walter Sobchak

    Brett: Here is the reason why warmists have no followers among adults.

    You said: “The problem is that it’s not the warmer temperatures that kill you – it’s the transition, which causes massive ecological disruption.”

    Sadly, we, out here in flyover country, have a 30 degree annual variation between January lows and July highs — every year. And, it doesn’t cause any ecological disruption or even mass casualties.

    Thanks for playing. Next time think of something scarier, like zombies or vampires.

  • J R Yankovic

    As always, blistering – and on target – assessment of the flawed thinking behind most of the Green movement. Then again – as I’ve heard suggested in various places – maybe the majority of Greens aren’t really all that concerned about the environmental impacts of climate change AS SUCH. As distinct from doomsday scenarios (of one kind or another) being a handy pretext for imposing some sort of global emergency regime.

    Though, to be quite frank, I don’t think one has to be a power-hungry ogre to be tempted by “solutions” of that kind. Just fiercely impatient with detail, and brutally dismissive of nuance and particularity. Of which mental habits, if I’m not mistaken, there seem to be quite a lot of examples going around over this past generation. I wish I knew how ELSE to explain the sloppy, ill-thought-out eagerness with which we barged into Afghanistan (twice), and the no less hasty and sloppy reasons given for our withdrawal (twice).

    Anyhow, to me, once again, the monolithic “reasoning” of most Greens is just one more symptom of an ongoing problem: the sweeping-solution, across-the-board ideologizing that passes for serious political thought in our post-Cold War era.

    And thanks to Brett @4 for what I think is a crucial reminder (not being half as brilliant as the rest of your critics, I can’t say I know what they’re talking about). In tandem with that point, if I may add one other that I think is related: It’s not climate change itself, but the speed or gradualness at which the change proceeds that also will determine the nature of our political responses to eco-crisis – and how “emergency” (and hence undemocratic, dictatorial, etc) those responses will “have to” be.

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