Climate change ‘winners’

2010-08-20

in Economics, Politics, Science, The environment

Today’s Globe and Mail makes a good point about the ongoing Russian heatwave and wildfires, namely that they are a partial counter to the argument that northern countries like Russia and Canada would benefit from a warmer climate:

Russia’s summer heat wave has dimmed prospects that northern countries will “win” from climate change thanks to factors such as longer crop-growing seasons or fewer deaths from winter cold, experts say.

Canada, Nordic countries and Russia have been portrayed as among a lucky few chilly nations where moderate climate change will mean net benefits such as lower winter heating bills, more forest and crop growth and perhaps more summer tourism.

“It’s not a matter of a benign shift to a longer growing season” for northern nations, said [Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado]. Russia’s heat wave doubled death rates in Moscow, wrecked a quarter of Russia’s grain crop and may cut $14-billion from gross domestic product.

It is certainly odd to see climate change deniers who – in the course of the same speech or article – will claim that climate change isn’t happening at all, that it is pefectly natural, that it is actually going to be beneficial, and that it is all China’s fault for building too many coal plants.

The fact is, all of our infrastructure was designed for the kind of climatic conditions human civilization emerged in. While it is certainly likely that a few people will benefit from climate change, for the most part it will mean that roads, buildings, agricultural systems, and so on are increasingly poorly suited to the area where they are situated.

I wrote before about climate change and Australian brushfires.

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

klem August 20, 2010 at 2:51 pm

“It is certainly odd to see climate change deniers who will claim that climate change isn’t happening at all, that it is pefectly natural, that it is actually going to be beneficial, and that it is all China’s fault for building too many coal plants.”

I agree, that certainly is odd. I know of no climate deniers who would say it’s all China’s fault. The deniers can’t lay blame on China or any other nation since it’s not caused by humans. Only climate alarmists would claim that it’s all China’s fault.

Climate change is dead. Go home, it’s over, you lost.

Milan August 20, 2010 at 3:03 pm

That perspective is not well aligned with reality. The behaviour of greenhouse gases is well understood, and we are undeniably adding enormous quantities of them to the atmosphere.

Here is one person who argues in the same article that climate change is natural, and also not happening at all.

Matt August 20, 2010 at 3:31 pm

klem:

You’re quick to be dismissive, but you offer no counter-evidence to the overwhelming actual evidence that climate change is occurring and caused largely by anthropogenic CO2.

As such, I’ve taken the liberty of editing your comment. It should read like this:

Climate change denialism is dead. Go home, it’s over, you lost.

. August 23, 2010 at 4:15 pm

“According to Geert Jan van Oldenborgh of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, a straightforward comparison of the temperatures seen in European Russia this summer with those of the past 60 years suggests that a lot of the country is experiencing temperatures which might be expected only once every 400 years or so. For parts of the patch, it is hotter than might be expected over several millennia.

If you take into account the warming trend of the past half century, however, the extraordinary heatwave starts to look less improbable: a once-in-a-century event, perhaps. As the warming trend continues in future, the chances of such events being repeated yet more frequently will become higher still.

Both heatwaves and heavy precipitation are more common everywhere than they were 50 years ago. Reflecting the latter trend, the Indian monsoon has been seeing more of its rainfall in extreme events than it did in the past. No single one of those events can be directly attributed to climate change; nor can Russia’s heatwave. The pattern of increases, though, fits expectations—and those expectations see things getting worse.”

. September 26, 2010 at 6:58 pm

On the current best guesses of scientists, climate change is likely to produce more events like the heatwave in Russia. These will disrupt harvests and make prices more volatile still. And climate change will probably shift patterns of production; some marginal land will become infertile; land now barren will come into production; some countries will import more, others export more. Retreating into self-sufficiency just when production may be reshaped is a starve-thy-neighbour policy.

The best way for countries to adjust to the shocks and disruption would be for markets to become deeper and more resilient. Instead, they are getting shallower and more vulnerable. Reversing this trend is in everybody’s interest.”

Milan October 4, 2010 at 3:21 pm

John Allemang has written a rather poor article for The Globe and Mail, arguing that Canada will be a climate change winner.

Tyler Hamilton has written a response.

So has Joseph Romm, who argues

There remains I think a very deep confusion about human-caused climate change, that we are just going to slowly drift into a moderately different state and then stop and “adapt”

In fact, the opposite is far and away the most likely scenario if we stay anywhere near our current emissions path: Our slow climate change will accelerate us into a dramatically different climate — and then just keep changing, as, say, sea levels rise 6 to 12 inches a decade by century’s end and keep doing so for centuries on end — with the occasional big jump in sea levels. And the oceans will become hotter, more acidified, ever-growing dead zones . And let’s not forget those multiple Dust Bowls.

By the second half of the century, much of Canada and Russia and Alaska could well experience see rising 1°F a decade for a long, long time.

. November 7, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Climate change to cost Canada billions: panel

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA | Thu Sep 29, 2011 4:55pm EDT

(Reuters) – Climate change will cause damage in Canada equivalent to around 1 percent of GDP in 2050 as rising temperatures kill off forests, flood low-lying areas and cause more illnesses, an official panel said on Thursday.

The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy said Canada’s Conservative government – criticized by green activists for not doing enough to fight global warming – should take measures to mitigate the effects of climate change, which most scientists blame on greenhouse gas emissions.

The north of Canada, the world’s second largest country, is warming up at a much faster pace than the rest of the Earth.

“Climate change presents a growing, long-term economic burden for Canada,” said the NRTEE, which the government set up in 1988 to provide advice on environmental issues.

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