Comedian Dennis Miller once made the observation that global warming might not be that big of a deal. Many people feel like they’re a little cold anyway, so an extra degree or two might solve that problem.
That observation might draw a laugh, but the science behind global warming shows us that it is no laughing matter. More than 95% of scientists agree that the data being collected about our planet’s climate show that recent warming trends are being artificially influenced. If the warming trend continues, sea levels will continue to rise. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, since 1963, sea levels in Galveston, Texas have risen 12.5 inches since 1963.
Much of the information about global warming focuses on the negatives, but there are some potential positives to examine as well. One of them is that northerly climates would receive longer growing seasons. That would allow for better agriculture opportunities at high latitude regions.
Here are some additional global warming pros and cons to think about as well.
List of the Pros of Global Warming
1. Winter-related deaths will decrease globally.
According to Antonio Gasparrini of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, cold weather is 20 times more deadly than hot weather. It’s not extreme high or extreme low temperatures that cause the most deaths. It is the climates that offer moderate cold that are the most dangerous. More than 74 million deaths were analyzed by Gasparrini and 5.4 million were related to cold, while only 311,000 were related to heat.
2. It would open more shipping routes.
Global warming would create warmer water temperatures in the Northwest Passage. This would provide a shortcut for shipping between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans that wouldn’t require the use of the Panama Canal. That would allow for a faster of transport of goods between nations, giving consumers a greater variety of choice that may not be available to them currently.
3. It could increase the plankton biomass.
Plankton is the foundational element in many marine food chains. With warmer temperatures, there is the potential of an increased plankton biomass in subtropical locations. In some areas, it could be one of the dominant influences for marine biodiversity, allowing for species to be healthier or offer endangered species a chance to recover.
List of the Cons of Global Warming
1. Global warming is the primary cause of current sea levels rising.
Glaciers are shrinking. Ice sheets are melting. This water must go somewhere and it is filtering down into our oceans. At the same time, emissions are allowing heat-trapping gases to accumulate. Since the 1880s, human activities have helped to increase global temperatures by 1.4F. 52% of the rising water levels are attributed to melting land ice.
2. It decreases human access to needed water supplies.
Even though global warming encourages ice to melt and sea levels to rise, humans have less access to freshwater supplies because of global warming. With less water access, there is the increased potential for ecosystem change. One of the most likely outcomes is to see new or expanded desert biomes appearing across the planet. There is also an increased frequency of fires expected with global warming.
3. Rice yields would decline.
Warmer temperatures won’t just affect daytime climates. It will also create warmer temperatures at night. Because global warming would create a warmer minimum temperature during the night, this would affect rice yields from around the planet. This would impact the more than 1 billion people who use rice as their primary staple food. At the same time, grasslands and shrubs would encroach on fields, further reducing the yield potential for this essential crop.
4. Dangerous infectious diseases would spread with ease.
Global warming would encourage a higher rate of production for mosquitoes. This deadly insect would be able to populate larger areas of the planet for longer periods of time as well. That means there would be a likely spread of Dengue fever and malaria around the world. Places like the United States, which rarely sees localized infections of these diseases, would begin to face the same problems that other nations already face because of the mosquito.
5. It would create more icebergs.
Although global warming could improve the number of available shipping lanes, it would also create more obstacles that could negatively impact shipping. Because ice would be less compacted, there would be more floes and mobile icebergs that could move into common shipping lanes. At the same time, the ice melting in arctic and Antarctic regions would release more methane, which would further enhance the problems associated with global warming.
6. It would encourage ocean acidification.
Oceans uptake more carbon dioxide when it is available. That may encourage more plankton blooms and moderate future global warming issues, but it also offers substantially negative impacts to many marine ecosystems. In some waters, plankton blooms would cease because the waters are too warm. It could threaten fish populations and disrupt the normal carbon cycle. Even sea urchins would see higher mortality levels.
7. It would damage current infrastructure.
Rising sea levels would create billions of dollars in damage to the current public infrastructure. Because of this damage, there is an increased risk of human conflict over less access to resources. Those who would suffer the greatest economic damage would be the nations that are poor and located in low latitude areas. Hundreds of millions of people would find themselves being displaced.
No matter how one feels about global warming, the facts show us that it is happening. Whether it is a natural event or a man-made problem, we must pay close attention to these global warming pros and cons. It may not be too late to change the course of history.