Global Warming Is Not an Acute Problem: As Far as the Future Weather Is Concerned, We Often Accept Horrific Disaster Stories That Almost Seem More Appropriate in a Hollywood Film

By Louzek, Marek | The New Presence: The Prague Journal of Central European Affairs, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

Global Warming Is Not an Acute Problem: As Far as the Future Weather Is Concerned, We Often Accept Horrific Disaster Stories That Almost Seem More Appropriate in a Hollywood Film


Louzek, Marek, The New Presence: The Prague Journal of Central European Affairs


According to some, parts of Antarctica are sinking into the sea, ocean water levels are rising dramatically, devastating hurricanes will bear down on us, the Gulf Stream will stop flowing, and Europe will freeze over. Will such end-of-the-world scenarios actually happen, or are these fears unfounded?

TEMPERATURE DISCUSSION

The climate has changed in the past, and it will change in the future. We forget that up until three million years ago, the Earth was permanently warmer than today. And, from a geological perspective, the contemporary climate is relatively cool.

Global warming does not mean that temperatures around the globe will universally rise. In his book Cool It (2007), Bjorn Lomborg points out that low temperatures increase much more than high temperatures, and temperatures rise more during night and in winter than during the day and in summer. He also states that temperatures in mild climates and arctic regions climb more dramatically than in the tropics: in Siberia, temperatures rise 5[degrees] Celsius, compared with 2-3[degrees] in Africa. Furthermore, while the frequency of heat waves will increase, cold waves will decrease. As Lomborg conveys, speaking of a "global" or universal temperature rise is ineffective and misleading.

Humans are very adaptable creatures. They do well in climates which vary from 15[degrees] to 25[degrees] Celsius. While we'll need to adapt to a new climate, adaptation is not unfeasible. In fact, global warming may even benefit humans; statistically, cold is a greater killer than heat.

The decrease in the number of heat-related deaths in the past few decades proves that our susceptibility to heat has substantially diminished. Improvement in health care services and access to medical treatment is probably the main reason for the decrease. The availability of air-conditioning has also increased our tolerance to heat. In time and with enough resources, we will be able to adapt to higher temperatures, and fewer deaths will result from overheating.

HUNGER, WATER AND POVERTY

Al Gore claims that unless the world adopts strict measures in the next fifty years, two fifths of the world's population will suffer from a serious lack of drinking water. The melting of icebergs, however, will increase river water levels, especially in summer. Thus, many of the poorest people in the world will in fact have more water at their disposal. Increased prosperity and technological advances for better flood protection will also offset any problems which could result from a rise.

Fearing disease outbreaks such as malaria is also unfounded. In Europe and the United States, malaria was eradicated when the world's temperatures were increasing. Even though temperature has a certain effect on malaria, it is negligible when compared with a wide range of other dependent factors like nutrition and health care, income, as well as the drying out of swamps and elimination of mosquitoes.

The prediction that world hunger will escalate is equally unfounded. While the world population has doubled since 1961, food production has tripled. The percentage of starving people has decreased from 50 percent in 1950 to 20 percent in 2000. This percentage is projected to fall to 2.9 percent by 2050.

Global warming will also only insignificantly influence economic development and living standards. The climate's impact on agriculture has almost no influence on the global economy. By 2100, people in developing countries will have more money than they have today. In this century alone, the world population will increase by three billion, but those starving will decrease to 136 million.

In regards to water, global warming will increase precipitation and therefore increase the accessibility to water. The challenge of the future is not global warming regulation, but utilizing hygienic equipment to give three billion people secure access to clean drinking water. …

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