Global Warming Is Good for Us
The news is counterintuitive, but it’s the truth.
First, the good news: Global warming is real. Now, the even-better news: It’s mild, and it’s mostly beneficial. So says Matt Ridley, an Oxford-educated journalist and libertarian who was also, until recently, one of the most independent and interesting members of British Parliament. “This startling fact,” he says, “is kept from the public by a determined effort on the part of alarmists and their media allies who are determined to use the language of crisis and emergency.”
How’s that for a countervailing narrative?
Ridley, who’s also the author of several science books, says that the biggest benefit of mankind’s increased carbon footprint is global greening, which is the year-over-year increase in the amount of vegetation we have on the planet. It’s simple, really: When carbon emissions and carbon dioxide increase, plants get more food, and we get more greenery — thicker forests, richer grasslands, and more plentiful scrub brush.
As Ridley writes: “This has been measured using satellites and on-the-ground recording of plant-growth rates. It is happening in all habitats, from tundra to rainforest. In the four decades since 1982, as Bjorn Lomborg points out, NASA data show that global greening has added 618,000 square kilometres of extra green leaves each year, equivalent to three Great Britains. You read that right: every year there’s more greenery on the planet to the extent of three Britains.”
Ridley suspects that Greta Thunberg didn’t share this news with any of us.
If you’re trying to convert square kilometers to square miles, 618,000 of the former is equivalent to 238,000 of the latter — or a surface area just short of Texas. Incredible, huh? Planet Earth is growing another Lone Star State worth of green space every year. Or, as Lomborg calculates it, from 1982-2019, the world has added leafy green spaces equivalent to three times the continental United States. And the primary cause of this greener world is a much maligned one. As Ridley writes:
All studies agree that by far the largest contributor to global greening — responsible for roughly half the effect — is the extra carbon dioxide in the air. In 40 years, the proportion of the atmosphere that is CO2 has gone from 0.034 per cent to 0.041 per cent. That may seem a small change but, with more ‘food’ in the air, plants don’t need to lose as much water through their pores (‘stomata’) to acquire a given amount of carbon. So dry areas, like the Sahel region of Africa, are seeing some of the biggest improvements in greenery. Since this is one of the poorest places on the planet, it is good news that there is more food for people, goats and wildlife.
Of course, all this means that folks are better able to farm, too. And all this time, the lefties and the eco-theologians and the AOCs of the world were telling us that climate change is most hurtful to the poor among us. It’s no surprise, then, that this news about global greening is being mostly ignored by the mainstream media — both in Great Britain and the U.S. After all, it wrecks their narrative, and it thereby wrecks their ability to scare us into supporting financially ruinous boondoggles like the Green New Deal.
The news, though, is better still. As Ridley continues: “Another bit of good news is on deaths. We’re against them, right? A recent study shows that rising temperatures have resulted in half a million fewer deaths in Britain over the past two decades. That is because cold weather kills about ‘20 times as many people as hot weather,’ according to the study.
Remember that: Cold is the real killer; not heat. And, interestingly, "more warming is happening in cold places, in cold seasons and at cold times of day. So winter nighttime temperatures in the global north are rising much faster than summer daytime temperatures in the tropics.” So tropical temperatures, where most poor folks live, are changing more slowly than the average.
Here, it’s also worth debunking another of the Left’s oft-repeated claims about climate change: that it’s causing one species after another to go extinct. That’s rubbish, as Ridley points out: “Invasive alien species are the main cause of species extinction worldwide … whereas climate change has yet to be shown to have caused a single species to die out altogether anywhere.”
If all this weren’t good enough, the alarmists can’t even fall back on extreme weather events as a reason for alarm. As Ridley writes: “There’s no evidence to suggest weather volatility is increasing and no good theory to suggest it will. The decreasing temperature differential between the tropics and the Arctic may actually diminish the volatility of weather a little. … Globally, deaths from droughts, floods and storms are down by about 98% over the past 100 years — not because weather is less dangerous but because shelter, transport and communication (which are mostly the products of the fossil-fuel economy) have dramatically improved people’s ability to survive such natural disasters.”
Finally, climate change does bring challenges — the biggest of which is the rise in sea levels. According to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report released Tuesday, after all, sea levels are rising at an increasing rate, and we could see an extra foot of water at our coastlines by 2050. NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad says, “This will happen no matter what we do about emissions.”
But Ridley offers a different perspective: “Whereas the sea level shot up between 10,000 and 8,000 years ago [by nearly 200 feet over 2,000 years] … today the change is nine times slower: three millimeters a year, or a foot per century, and with not much sign of acceleration.” And, he adds, “The land area of the planet is actually increasing, not shrinking, thanks to siltation and reclamation.”
So: more greenery, more farmable land, fewer weather-related deaths, and, at least according to Ridley, historically slow sea-level increases. Global greening is indeed a real thing. And it’s a good thing. No wonder the Left doesn’t want to talk about it.
UPDATED to include additional good news concerning the extinction of species.
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