Talking Points on the Environment #33: Why Global Warming Might be Good

Global warming could save thousands of human lives.

While many fear global warming could increase the intensity and frequency of storms, information offered by the George C. Marshall Institute suggests otherwise. According to that group, severe storms are more closely associated with cold weather than warm weather. The most severe storms in the North Sea occurred during the 15th and 16th centuries, after the onset of the Little Ice Age. Storms in 1421 and 1446 claimed 100,000 lives while a storm in 1570 claimed over 400,000.

Agriculture flourishes during global warming.

Between the 10th and 12th centuries, when the temperature of the planet was roughly 0.5 degrees Celsius warmer than it is today, agriculture in North America and Europe flourished. During this period, southern Greenland was free of ice, allowing cultivation by Norse settlers. A project sponsored by the National Science Foundation found evidence that a Little Ice Age began in Greenland between 1400 and 1420, blanketing the Vikings’ farms in ice and forcing them to leave Greenland. Prior to the onset of this Little Ice Age, temperatures were comparable to those forecast by the United Nations’ sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for 2030-2050.

Global warming could aid in water conservation.

The greenhouse gas carbon dioxide acts as a fertilizer on plant life while reducing plant transpiration (the passage of water from the roots through the plants’ vascular system to the atmosphere). Thus, with global warming, agricultural output could be expected to increase while making less demands on the water supply.

Global warming would increase the water supply.

The scientific community is divided over many aspects of the global warming theory. However, the effect that global warming has on precipitation is not one of them. Global warming would mean more condensation and more evaporation, producing more and/or heavier rains. According to the World Bank, one-third of the world’s population suffers from chronic water shortages. The Worldwatch Institute predicts this situation will worsen with the addition of 2.6 billion people to the world’s population. The Worldwatch Institute claims that by 2025, 40 percent of the world’s population could be living in countries with insufficient water supplies. This could lead to crop failures, diminished economic development, and regional conflicts as nations find it necessary to fight for control over the scarce water resources. Global warming could conceivably offer the answer to the water scarcity problem that the Worldwatch Institute has been seeking.


Information from: The National Center for Public Policy Research’s National Policy Analysis paper # 165.

Issue Date: July 1997

Talking Points on the Economy: Environment #33, published by The National Center for Public Policy Research, 501 Capitol Ct NE, Washington, D.C. 20001 Tel. (202) 507-6398, Fax (301) 498-1301, [email protected],

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