Monday, October 4, 2010

Winter and global warming

I opened my front door and walked outside sometime late last night.  What a great feeling.  The obsidian sky and the cold autumn air.   It instantly made me happy to know that winter (my favorite season) would be arriving soon.  I like cold weather and darkness. 

With that relatively pointless intro being said, I recently read an article about 6 good things that would supposedly happen as a result of global warming.

6.  It could delay a far worse Ice Age 

In general, humans do better in extreme heat than extreme cold--a lot more of us live around the warm equator than the frigid poles. So it makes sense that global warming wouldn't be nearly the disaster that, say, a new Ice Age would be. Especially when you take into account the fact that we've yet to find crops that like to grow under three feet of ice.

Well we haven't found crops that like to grow in temperatures above 140 degrees either.

A new Ice Age isn't the stuff of science fiction, either. These cooling periods have happened at least four times that we know about, caused by slight changes in the Earth's orbit around the Sun that happen from time to time. It's a regular cycle. Our current warming is not, however, part of that cycle. Right now we should be cooling down, but thanks to those brave souls who refuse to give up Hummers, make margaritas with diesel-powered blenders and drive their hovercrafts to get the daily mail, we're not. This may not be all bad news, if the warming will wind up delaying or blunting the effects of the next Ice Age, as some experts think it will.

I guess that's good for now, but what about when this cooling period ends and we enter a warming period?  Luckily we'll all be dead before that happens.

5. Warmer winters mean fewer deaths

We try to keep things light-hearted here, so let's put it this way: Every winter someone, or 10,000 someones, forgets to turn up grandma's thermostat and by the time Christmas rolls around the family gathers to discover a Grandma-cicle under the Christmas tree.OK, that was actually much more disturbing than if we had just said it outright: Winter kills people. Not just from freezing to death, either; warmer winters will save people from dying of pretty much EVERYTHING. Studies have shown that cold causes more of almost every kind of death, from heart attacks to digestive system disorders to infectious diseases, all of which jump in cold winter temperatures. 
Extreme heat also kills people.  Maybe people in colder regions will be fine, but people who live in places that are already hot are going to have some problems to deal with.  
What's that?  Your life sucks?  Here, let me make it suck a little harder.  

4.  We may grow more food

If you're a farmer in America or Europe, or a multinational conglomerate that owns all the farms, global warming is your friend. As temperatures rise, areas formerly barren, like tundra, will begin to produce vegetation. In addition, increased temps will create longer growing seasons and yields will also benefit from fewer crop-killing freezes. Canada and parts of Europe could start growing more food right away.

I already addressed this in an earlier post of mine, found here:

Crop yield will rise in some places and decrease in others, but overall it will be a decrease.  

Also, remember that plants eat CO2. The additional CO2 global warming brings will increase photosynthesis in plants, making the process more efficient, requiring less water. With new, water-sipping plants, not only can we expect more food, trees and agriculture with fewer resources, but a cheaper, easier way to create biofuels, which up to this point have created more ecological damage than good.

There will be more CO2, yes, but all of the other things that will happen as a result of global warming will be bad for plant growth, such as increased acidic rain which will wash topsoil and cause other problems.  

3.  Cheaper imported goods 

Ever since man realized that there was money to be made by piling valuable things on a boat and selling them to faraway lands where they're even more valuable, we've had one huge problem: To get back and forth between two of the biggest markets--Asia and Europe--your boats have to sail this massive pain-in-the-ass route...

We literally spent centuries trying to sail through the frozen Northwest Passage over Canada, even though expedition after expedition found themselves wedged in 20 feet of ice every time. Even after we built the Panama and Suez canals to make it less of a pain in the ass to get from one ocean to the other, it would still be hugely beneficial to have the Northwest Passage opened up.

Global warming is about to give it to us, because all of that ice is finally melting up there (for part of the year, anyway). If so, it'll shorten some shipping Europe-to-Asia shipping routes by half. Goods will get there faster, and cheaper.

I can't think of anything wrong with this one.  

2.  It might actually decrease hurricane

Right around Hurricane Katrina was when everybody started talking about how global warming would give us more hurricanes. The idea is that hurricanes are the result of heat energy getting released from the ocean, so warmer oceans means more hurricanes. Seems to make sense.

The article then links to a study that supposedly shows the opposite, that warmer waters will decrease hurricanes.

From the article:  

But the new study, by oceanographer Chunzai Wang of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Sang-Ki Lee, a scientist at the University of Miami, examined 150 years of hurricane records and found a small decline in hurricanes making landfall in the United States as the oceans warmed. 
It seems to me ocean temperature may not have much to do with the formation of hurricanes since there has only a been a small decrease in their occurrence.  

So it's only been a small decrease.  And the hurricanes that do occur will be stronger.

1.  It may save the rainforest 

Warmer temperatures and added nitrogen from acid rain have actually been good for the vegetation in rainforests. And, even weirder, rainforests seem to be doing better with less rain. The theory is that less rain means less cloud cover, and it looks like what the plants lose in water, they gain in direct sunlight.

Hmm.  I'm not sure if this true or not.  Even if plant life common to rainforests can survive in drought situations, it can only survive for so long.  

In conclusion, the small benefits that may result from global warming are greatly outweighed by the negative impact of global warming.

Original article:


  1. Very interesting blog! Now following you! :D

  2. It's good to see that you're beating inertia today :)

  3. Sorry for the f_cked up text and spacing. I'll try to fix that when my internet connection isn't sucking so hard.

  4. great post sounds like driving the car around is going to good use lol

  5. Good read man, completely true.

  6. the most complete post i've ever seen.
    Very good

  7. well written. I like your writing style. Never thought about possible positive effects about global warming.

  8. Global warming... Pretty descriptive writing though!

  9. fancy commentary.

    but these benefits, sketchy or not, seems sort of picked from a big pile of greater issues... oh well.

  10. whats not to like about global warning!
    i'm conflicted now.

  11. brb buying a hummer

  12. I thought about it for a second....naaaaaaaaaahh

  13. I hate winter, unless I don't have to leave the house.

  14. You guys aren't reading the article thoroughly enough.

    Here's the conclusion:
    the small benefits that may result from global warming are greatly outweighed by the negative impact of global warming.

  15. good follow up post to yesterday's

  16. It's good to look at the positives that will come from this messed up situation

  17. hahaha gonna go chop down some trees for a warmer climate!