Naked Science Forum

Life Sciences => The Environment => Topic started by: cheryl j on 08/07/2013 23:50:14

Title: Who owns the climate?
Post by: cheryl j on 08/07/2013 23:50:14

First of all, I'm not a global warming denier or defender of big corporations, but I thought the above article from Science Daily was interesting anyway. Basically it says that increased C02 has resulted in greening of deserts and arid parts of the world, including parts of Australia, North America, Middle East and Africa. "The fertilization effect occurs where elevated CO2 enables a leaf during photosynthesis, the process by which green plants convert sunlight into sugar, to extract more carbon from the air or lose less water to the air, or both." Satellite observations "have found an 11 per cent increase in foliage cover from 1982-2010 across parts of the arid areas studied."

So the article made me wonder, what would happen if global warming turned out to be a good thing, or (more likely) what if it turned out to be great for some areas, and bad for others? How would this kind of conflict ever be negotiated? What if it were potentially a good thing for most parts of the world, but also risky without knowing the how those "secondary effects" mentioned in the article might play out? How much risk is acceptable and who would get to decide?
Title: Re: Who owns the climate?
Post by: peppercorn on 09/07/2013 22:40:43
"what if it turned out to be great for some areas, and bad for others?"

- rate of change is the big issue under the current pressures of AGW; whether CO2 levels either increase or decrease is, in many respects, irrelevant - it is, whether globally or regionally, far more the case that environment changes outstrip the rate at which the evolution of the species affected can respond.
Title: Re: Who owns the climate?
Post by: CliffordK on 10/07/2013 00:43:39
One of the problems is that it is difficult to predict the exact outcome of warming and climate change.  And, even on an individual scale, what may be good for one person may be bad for their next door neighbor. 

I have no doubt that some of the northerly climates will benefit from mild warming.  But, as Peppercorn mentions, undoubtedly there will be some species that will be unable to adapt, or migrate.
Title: Re: Who owns the climate?
Post by: alancalverd on 10/07/2013 18:02:30
The climate has undergone spectacular changes in the past and species or entire classes of living things have adapted, evolved, disappeared, or migrated accordingly. There's no global notion of "good" or "bad", but rapid change will certainly provoke a lot of human conflict as the losers try to migrate to winning territories.

If the worst predicted sealevel changes occur, the migration of the population of Bangladesh may be the first geopolitical problem to be addressed. Declarations such as the Kyoto accord and the blessed testaments of the IPCC have already assigned the blame, so it's up to the guilty to do something about it - but what?
Title: Re: Who owns the climate?
Post by: CliffordK on 11/07/2013 00:22:05
Certainly the Dutch engineers (and others) will find ways to protect many of our major metropolitan areas, even with huge sea level changes not likely seen for hundreds, or perhaps thousands of years.  Perhaps there will even be an effort to build up low lying areas such as the entire state of Florida. 

But, you're right, some of the small 3rd world countries will undoubtedly suffer.  However, the other thing to keep in mind is that the sea level rise will likely be very gradual, occurring over centuries.  Potentially relentless, but who's to say that in a half a millennium, Bangladesh won't outshine the USA, or the UK, perhaps as part of a new South Asian Consortium.