You’d be forgiven for thinking that the effects of climate change are uniformly bad—that’s the way they’re reported by the media, eager to make hay of any gloomy story. But our planet’s climate is nothing if not complex, so it’s not surprising that warming temperatures might produce some welcome changes. One prime example: a warmer European winter was the biggest reason why emissions dropped in continent in 2014. The BBC reports:
According to a new report, the use of CO2 and other gases across the bloc dropped by almost a quarter between 1990 and 2014…The latest figures, from 2014, show that a milder winter was the major factor in the reduction that year. […]
“If you look at the 24 year period, there is some warming in Europe and this has contributed to lower heat demand and lower greenhouse gas emissions,” said Ricardo Fernandez from the European Environment Agency who compiled the figures. “In the last two years it has even been stronger – in 2014 you can see that, while its not the only factor, by and large it’s due to the milder winter conditions in Europe.”
That mild, wet winter was felt particularly in Germany and the UK, and it is reductions in domestic heating demand in both those countries that accounts for just under half the decline across the 28 states that year.
Studies point to some scary feedback loops due to reinforce rising temperatures, like methane (a particularly potent greenhouse gas) trapped in ice on our planet’s seabeds that could be released as oceans warm. Europe’s warmer winters are a mark on the other side of the ledger, and represent a much more welcome climate relationship that could help to keep surface temperatures from rising.
This also underscores just how little we understand about our planet’s climate. Greens would have you believe that humanity’s hubris has doomed it to a nearly inescapable future of a hotter planet with more extreme weather, but the story is going to be much more nuanced than that. And when environmentalists glibly proclaim climate science to be “settled,” they only set themselves up to look like fools when new research uncovers previously unknown facets of one of the most complicated systems we have at hand to study. Yes, our planet’s surface temperatures are warming, and yes, human-caused greenhouse gas emissions have affected that, but beyond those very general truths things start to get a lot less certain. After all, climate change is actually helping Europe prevent climate change.