The Upside of Global Warming?

The AP lets us in on a few tidbits that Al Gore's PowerPoint presentation apparently failed to include:

Northern homes could save on heating fuel. Rust Belt cities might stop losing snowbirds to the South. Canadian farmers could harvest bumper crops. Greenland may become awash in cod and oil riches. Shippers could count on an Arctic shortcut between the Atlantic and Pacific. Forests may expand. Mongolia could see a go-go economy.

This is all speculative, even a little facetious, and any gains are not likely to make up for predicted frightening upheavals elsewhere. But still ... might there be a silver lining for the frigid regions of Canada and Russia

As the world warms up and growing crops migrate toward the poles, Canada and Russia are forecast to come out ahead in agricultural gains, as are much of northern Europe and Mongolia. Apparently fishermen in icy Greenland are "thrilled" by the return of cod, while farmers there are reporting higher yields.

In fact, one Hudson Valley apple grower says he's been "betting on it for years" by diversifying his farm with warmer days in mind.

Here's where we play Debbie Downer and point out that caveats abound, however, because too many variables get in the way of making any long-term global forecasts. As the AP notes in one example, a longer growing season won't give farmers any leg up come harvest time if resulting rain patterns lead to drought.

Northern residents who save more on winter heating fuel, says economic professor Robert O. Mendelsohn of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, will end up forking out more dough than that to cool down in the summer.

The AP continues:

Great Lakes cities might enjoy balmier weather, but could suffer if lower lake levels cut off shipping lanes. And global warming could present deadly new opportunities for parasites and disease

Some researchers stress there aren't really any winners in global warming because the planet will be such a big loser. Marginal gains in limited areas can't be stacked up on one side of the ledger, they say, when the negatives can include planet-wide food and water shortages, mass flooding and extinction.

"In the end, you don't find really large, really significant benefits," says Michael MacCracken, chief scientist at the non-partisan Climate Institute in Washington. "I mean, loss of biodiversity is an irreversible thing for the planet. Saving a little money on heating in winter areas is a small economic gain for some people. How do you compare that?"

Let's also not forget that rising sea levels and temperatures are fueling super storms, eroding shorelines, shrinking ancient glaciers, bleaching corals, threatening water supplies in much of the developing world, and well on their way to creating millions of climate refugees in the coming decades.

I mean, we may be half-cup-full kind of people around here, but seriously, folks. :: USA Today

See also: :: Global Warming is Good for Russia, :: What's Wrong with Mild Winters, Anyways?, :: The Canary Project: What Global Warming Looks Like, and :: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report

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