Thursday, May 10, 2007

Major German publication says warming might be a positive thing.

A few days ago I mentioned an article on global warming that was due to come out in the German mass weekly Der Spiegel. The English edition is now available and the article marks a major change in pace for a mass publication such as this one.

Typically journalists have been drawn to the Al Gore-like hysteria about warming and how the end of the world is around the corner. This rather surprising article instead announced Not the End of the World as We Know It.

They begin talking about the “father of the greenhouse effect”, Svante Arrhenius. They note that when he formulated his theory on C02 and warming in the late 1800s that he argued that global warming would make the world a better place and was looking forward to it. They say his view expressed the mainstream view of the times. After all the world had just come out of the Little Ice Age and it seemed a pretty awful time for humans compared to the Medieval Warm Period that preceded it.

The Medieval Warm Period was practically a Garden of Eden compared to the cold that followed which resulted in crop failures, famines, and epidemics. Der Spiegel reports “average life expectancy dropped by 10 years. In Germany, thousands of villages were abandoned and entire stretches of land depopulated.” After this any warming in the mid to late 1800s was welcomed.

But all this changed with the “the rise of the environmental movement...From then on it was almost a foregone conclusion that global warming could only be perceived as a disaster for the earth’s climate. Environmentalists, adopting a strategy typical of the Catholic Church, have been warning us about the horrors of greenhouse gas hell ever since -- painting it as a punishment for the sin of meddling with creation.”

The article notes that “Climate hysteria appears to be more contagious than a flue epidemic” and it informs readers, “the more paleontologists and geologists study the history of the earth’s climate, the more clearly do they recognize just how much temperatures have fluctuated in both directions in the past. Even major fluctuations appear to be completely natural phenomena.” It’s true but that fact is frequently left out of articles selling the doomsday scenario of St. Al.

It then asks German scientists about the actual expected impact of warming. Zoologist Josef Reichholf told them that a “warmer climate helps promote species diversity”. And there are other “benefits” to warming, something the magazine says has been “taboo to express” in public.

They note that much of the food growing regions of the world will see warmer weather increasing food production. And the drier weather predicted tends not to be in poor countries at all. “According to current predictions, precipitation in large parts of Africa will hardly decrease at all, except in the southern part of the continent. In fact, these same forecasts show the Sahel, traditionally a region beset by drought and famine, actually becoming wetter.” The places that will see less rain are parts of the southern US and Australia and some Mediterranean counties.”

Projected warming trends would reduce heating costs in the North by trillions of dollars, something which itself would reduce CO2 emissions. And certainly for Germany—this is a German publication remember—it is estimated that warming would mean “40,000 fewer deaths in Germany attributable to cold-related illnesses like the flu.”

Massive storms that were previously predicted for Europe as the result of warming are now off the table as refined models show the results minimal. And the project sea level rise is also now considerably more moderate than past projections. These far milder conditions coupled with the fact that these changes can take decades or centuries to manifest themselves means that there is lots of time for adjustment.

You can also find an interview with zoologist Josef Reichholf arguing that human's thrive in warmer climates and so do most species. He says worry about warming is "nothing but fear-mongering".

Considering that more than a million copies of Der Spiegel are sold each week this article is going to shift the warming debate in Germany in a direction that the panic mongering Green extremists won’t like.

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