Climate change doesn’t have to be all bad

By Zachary Karabell
January 11, 2013

This week the National Climate Data Center confirmed what most had long believed: 2012 was the warmest year on record for the United States. Ever. And not just a bit warmer: a full Fahrenheit degree warmer than in 1998, the previous high. In the land of climatology statistics, that is immense. In the understatement of one climate scientist, these findings are “a big deal.”

Almost every news story reporting on this juxtaposed the record with a series of disruptive climate events, ranging from the drought that covered much of the United States farmland and punctuated by Hurricane Sandy in its tens of billions of dollars of devastation. Many also pointed out that eight of the 10 warmest years have occurred since 1990 (though it should be noted that official records only extend to 1895). Not surprisingly, these observations were almost always followed by warnings of more warming and substantially worse consequences to come.

But what if climate change isn’t the disaster we fear but instead one more obstacle that humans can meet, one that may spur innovation and creativity as well as demand ever more resilience? What if it ultimately improves life as we know it?

That the planet is getting warmer there should be no doubt. Nor should there be much question about the role of human development, industrialization and carbon emissions as a causal factor. Of course, many do still question these changes, or at least to what degree they have been triggered by human activity, and yes, there have been wide climate swings throughout the millennia. Still, the preponderance of current scientific knowledge maintains that warming is accelerating and that fossil fuels and various effluvia of modern industry are a cause.

It does not, however, follow that the future arc of these changes is disastrous. Unwanted, unwelcome and uneasy? For sure. Potentially lethal? Yes. But so much of the debate over the past 30 years has been over what is causing climate change, and how to prevent more change from happening, that comparatively less energy has been spent on adapting to it. In part, those most focused on these issues, from Green parties in Europe to environmentalists in the United States, have often believed that any discussion of mitigating the effects of climate change is tantamount to giving up on preventing it. That has led to a jeremiad mentality, epitomized by Al Gore and the scathing warnings of what lies ahead in his hugely influential 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth.

The advantage of that approach was that it alerted many to the dangers of climate change; the disadvantage was that it scared people into passivity and closed fruitful avenues to policies focused on mitigating the effects rather than halting the trend. And while halting the trend might have been feasible (just) 20 years ago, the most we can achieve now is to reduce the rate and intensity of climate change until the world’s population levels off sometime in the middle of the 21st century. Activists can and should still focus on reducing global emissions, but not at the expense of answering how we will live with the change.

Perhaps in recognition of the need of a new paradigm, “resilience” has quietly become a buzzword. The ever provocative Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his recent book Antifragile argues that only organizations capable of meeting crises can survive crises. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, counties and cities in the Northeast have been contemplating how best to prepare for future weather shocks. That has led to renewed appreciation for cities, such as Rotterdam, that have long undertaken environmental planning organized around the notion that floods will happen no matter what humans do. The challenge isn’t to find a way to prevent floods; it’s to find a way to live with them.

The two approaches could not be more distinct: One warns of catastrophe and attempts to steer away from it. One pragmatically accepts that some undesirable things will happen no matter what. Rotterdam has thus focused both on preventing as much flooding as possible (floodgates) and on urban infrastructure that is as flood-resistant as possible: power grids that have dispersed nodes, waterproof insulation, even floating parts of the city in case of truly severe inundation.

Far from signaling a resignation to climate change, resilience, adaption and mitigation all shift energy away from holding back the tide and toward innovation and creativity in meeting it. In fact, those are precisely what have fueled whatever positive development there has been in human history (and admittedly, some negative as well). The theoretical physicist David Deutsch points out that pessimism about future trends is actually more “blindly optimistic” than genuine optimism because it assumes that we can know the future.

But as has been all too evident recently, we cannot. Instead, the only source of progress has been the ability of humans to learn and adapt. While climate change could spell death and harm to low-lying areas around the world as the seas rise, life 30,000 years ago was hardly hospitable. Yet people managed to create viable living conditions anyway. Necessity demanded it, and our ability to create and innovate made it possible.

That approach is imperative not just for climate change but for multiple areas that generate such anxiety about the future. The imbalance of the financial system? Those are only made worse by the false belief that a system could be created where such risks don’t exist; better to find ways to mitigate the risks of a global interconnected financial system than seek, Don Quixote-like, ways to eliminate risk. The dysfunction of Washington? Better to find ways to meet collective needs that don’t depend on the federal government (or any large central bureaucracy) than pile all those needs onto one large, unwieldy and cumbersome institution and hope for the best. Our response to climate change is only one way that we have chosen the path of pessimism instead of a path of innovation. How we meet this challenge will say much about how we meet all of our challenges.

PHOTO: The Sheldon Glacier with Mount Barre in the background, is seen from Ryder Bay near Rothera Research Station, Adelaide Island, Antarctica, in this NASA handout photo. REUTERS/British Antarctic Survey/Handout

38 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Is this similar to the argument that Chinese kids will be tougher world competitors because of the sheetrock their pigs were fed, and the antifreeze in their milk? What change is an acceptable risk to the author? Food can be produced only with water – but not underwater. Likewise with the temperature range. The extremes of weather have begun showing themselves. Political infighting over monumental storm damage requests may well be in it’s infancy. How much of an upheaval are we willing to gamble, while still attempting to calculate if the tipping point is already in sight?

Posted by auger | Report as abusive

Auger, you’re not getting the point. We need to prepare/adapt to the changes that are happening and that we know will happen. All yuou did was prove the authors point about blame and talk, but no real though or action.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive

We have nothing else to try. The scope of food production for the world’s population does not leave ‘adaption’ as a possibility. Do you envision moving our grain production to a damper place, or draining the Great Lakes to irrigate it? Everything we do to mitigate changes brought on by weather will create more heat. Where do you see that going?

Posted by auger | Report as abusive

Adaptation alone isn’t going to cut it. We will need to adapt even if we stop emitting CO2 abruptly. But if we don’t cut those emissions, adaptation to the world that’s coming will not be possible. How do you adapt the Nile Delta or Bangladesh, or Miami Beach, for that matter, to a one-meter rise in sea level? You don’t. You have millions of displaced refugees to deal with, and fewer ways to feed them.

This is whistling past the graveyard.

Posted by Fishrl | Report as abusive

But the question remains HOW to adapt? Some adaptation solutions like geo-engineering represent “quick fixes” that only bring more variability into an already volatile climate system. We need adaptation that is aligned with how the system itself works rather than trying to re-engineer the earth’s climate. Adaptation will be important (it already is), but HOW we do it is even more important.

Posted by AndrewJM | Report as abusive

Global warming is real.

The “fact” that it is primarily manmade is not.

The “inconvenient truth” is that there are mega-billions to be made in fighting this boogey-man that would disappear if the truth were known.

No reputable scientist can claim that a single year represents ANY type of valid statistical data.

Measure that year, or decades, or centuries for that matter, and it is still not enough to determine a pattern.

The Earth is in an anomalous period of an ice age, caused mainly by continental drift.

THAT is the inconvenient truth.

Posted by EconCassandra | Report as abusive

Global warming is real.

The “fact” that it is primarily manmade is not.

The “inconvenient truth” is that there are mega-billions to be made in fighting this boogey-man that would disappear if the truth were known.

No reputable scientist can claim that a single year represents ANY type of valid statistical data.

Measure that year, or decades, or centuries for that matter, and it is still not enough to determine a pattern.

The Earth is in an anomalous period of an ice age, caused mainly by continental drift.

THAT is the inconvenient truth.

Posted by PseudoTurtle | Report as abusive

Yes, given enough money, anything can be engineered. But that really doesn’t solve the problem nor is the best use of money.

Yes, the world may have been less hospitable 30,000 years ago, but there were not 7 billion people, nor a massive infrastructure not build to withstand nature’s onslaughts. Nor hundreds of millions of people who could easily be flooded out by rising seas.

Holland may be able to find the money to engineer a solution, but what about Bangladesh?

When America cannot even maintain the infrastructure current, where is the money going to come for future protections against climate change?

One year of weather extremes does not make for a ratification of what could happen. But a decade of increasingly warm temperatures is a good signal of change.

One can always point to a period of several weeks or even a month in one year that was colder then the prior year, but then ignore that the trend is always going up.

Posted by pavoter1946 | Report as abusive

Yep, it isn’t all bad–for example, if your house burns down or blows away, just think of the opportunities created for housebuilders! If an agricultural region becomes desert, just adapt to it. If portions of costal cities get submerged, well you guessed it: don’t look just at the loss or the political disruption from multiple simultaneously submerging costal cities–adapt. Don’t let scientific warnings or predictions get you down; look for the positive side, right?

Posted by bcrawf | Report as abusive

@ pavoter1946 –

Evidently, you don’t understand what I am talking about.

From Wikipedia, solely for ease of access, we are talking about 200 million years of continental drift to move the continents to their present-day position. But “climate science” completely ignores this as a factor in why the earth is warming up:

“Antarctica has been near or at the South Pole since the formation of Pangaea about 280 Ma.

India started to collide with Asia beginning about 35 Ma, forming the Himalayan orogeny, and also finally closing the Tethys Seaway; this collision continues today.

The latter of which, together with decreasing atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations caused a rapid cooling of Antarctica and allowed glaciers to form. This eventually coalesced into the kilometers thick ice sheets we see today.[14]”

Notice particularly the last paragraph about Antarctica, and the real reason why it is covered in an ice cap today.

The proof of continenal drift is all around you — and the MAIN driver of today’s weather condition, NOT MAN — by the existence of massive moutain ranges, volcanic activity and earthquakes as the continents continue to drift on a seething bed of lava.

This movement of the continents CAUSES changes in weather patterns and ocean currents.

Unless man can undo continental drift, it is pointless to attempt to control the earth’s weather.

Man made global warming is a SCAM!

By the way, “a decade of increasingly warm temperatures is (NOT) a good signal of change”, if you measure weather patterns over 200 million years of climate change.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pangaea

Posted by PseudoTurtle | Report as abusive

There are already some “adaptations” under way, such as the planning by the maritime industry to make use of the “Inside Passage” as a shipping route. (Hopefully they’ll do a better job than it seems the oil industry has done of finding safe ways to drill in the Arctic!) As far as whether it’s “the best use of money” to make dramatic changes to adapt to a changing planet….well, that would be much better than for nations to fight wars over the remaining vestiges of “normalcy”.

Posted by Art_In_Seattle | Report as abusive

The author suggests that with respect to climate change there has not been much discussion regarding adaptation and mitigation. This is simply wrong. Environmentalists, physical scientists and social scientists have discussed these issues in great detail. For example, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change periodically issues reports that are widely studied and these reports always include extensive coverage of adaptation and mitigation. In the 4th assessment report issued in 2007, the overall report was divided into four parts, and part 3 was only about mitigation, and part 2 was about adaptation, as well as impacts and vulnerabilities.

The real underlying problem is not a lack of discussion. It is a lack of attention to the warnings of the scientific and environmental community by politicians, the public and journalists.

Posted by DanToronto | Report as abusive

Enjoyable article Zachary and I love your positive mental attitude. It’s gotten humans out of worse scrapes than this before.

I had to laugh at this though, “2012 was the warmest year on record for the United States. Ever.” Then later you fess up that we’ve only been keeping accurate records for a little over 100 years.

For humans forever at this point is about 2.5 million years. That was the beginnings of homo habilis anyway. So 117 years of temperature readings versus 2.5 million years of human existence gives us temperature data points for .0000468 of our time on Earth.

I’m not a denier, momentary warming is occurring although I do feel the extent of anthropogenic causation is absolutely debatable. The point though is all this is being extrapolated from a minute data sample, therefore the margin for error of results could easily be 100%.

The other potential good news is, contrary to the doomsayers portents of death and destruction, slightly warmer temperatures opens up more arable land for food production and crops, trees, and all vegetation loves CO2 and will be glad to voraciously consume it and give us back fresh Oxygen.

All is not lost, and again I like your attitude. We need to prepare for the worst, but many of us, or more likely our offspring won’t surprised when it doesn’t happen.

Posted by CaptnCrunch | Report as abusive

We were not capable as a society of recognizing climate change, or changing ourselves to minimize it. Why would anyone think we could be capable of adapting if we can’t prevent it from happening even when we know it is happening. This is really crazy talk. Humans have no control whatsoever. If you think humans are quick thinkers and adapters, you need snap out of it. We do nothing until it’s too late.

I am not saying the end of the world is coming, although it might be, but humans are not going to prevent their own demise because we are, as a whole, too stupid and slow. We burn finite fossil energy and pretend like it will last for ever. That is direct evidence of stupidity. There are many people who will argue differently, but they make their money by supporting the industries that burns finite fossil energy for profit.

I am trying to talk real simple here, so some of you can understand, and I repeat things that you need to recognize. We burn finite fossil energy and our economy depends on it and we pretend like it will last forever. There is no more evidence necessary to define us as a bunch of stupid animals incapable of preventing our own extinction. In your life and mine, our extinction may not come, but it will eventually and there is no reason to believe we will prevent it.

Posted by brotherkenny4 | Report as abusive

It is a point beyond obvious that adaptation will be part of the reaction to Climate Change, and this is hardly news among climate scientists, environmentalists, and likely your local government as well. But feeding the public’s complacency on this issue is hardly helpful.

I don’t recall who said it, but I remember hearing (years ago) that Climate Change is sure to bring mitigation, adaptation, and suffering. What is not known is what the relative mix of these will be. I’m not betting against a heavy dose of number 3, especially among those least responsible for the disaster. What they will do to us when the hammer drops should give us pause. What would you do?

Posted by Sanity-Monger | Report as abusive

I don’t think there is any real intent by anyone to stop climate change. If people were serious, there would be no carbon exchanges; the laws would immediately prohibit carbon emissions, not provide swaps between low and high polluters. Anything that involves money is open to corruption, and I think the current schemes are all about money, not stopping climate change. Even if fully implemented, the changes would have saved a fraction of a percent of temperature rise.

The real issue I have with climate is not for the earth; it is the climate of “religion” by those claiming “consensus” about any climate change being man-made. People who proclaim to be scientists are immediately shutting down any discussion of contrary theories; refusing to release their core data, or allowing anything that refutes and contradicts prevailing theories. Once again, I think money is to blame – these people get more money to study the problem, and if the problem goes away, so does the money.

Science and religion do not mix, and I think there is entirely too much religion in climate science today.

Posted by stevedebi | Report as abusive

Climate Change not so bad. Good grief! Tell that to the developing nations. I know, many in the US (not so much elsewhere) don’t believe in Climate Change and even if they do they don’t think a 6° Celsius rise in greenhouse gases by the end of this century is a big deal. But you have to remember that since the Ice Ages it took 10,000 years for the temperature to rise 6°C, allowing many plants and animals to adapt to all that. You really ought to think this one out before you go back to your cakes and ale.

Posted by FrankRegan | Report as abusive

To follow the authors advice, we will like Icarus, fly ever faster toward the sun, ever the meanwhile adjusting our flight.

There is hubris in the idea that we have the ability to adapt to the profound imbalances that global warming is causing in the balance of life-sustaining natural systems. In a broad variety of contexts we know that as natural systems go out of balance these systems initially deteriorate slowly, then progress until reaching tipping points where they accelerate catastrophically. We are in the early stages of observation of the effects of climate warming, which as recent data has demonstrated, are accelerating. We would be wise to carefully consider what data we have that indicates we will, as a global community, be able to effectively adapt.

On a separate not, taking a sociological perspective on the origin of the views in this article makes me mindful that the author likely lives comfortably and financially secure in a metropolis, personally well removed from the drastic personal impact being experienced by many of those that ever recent years have been profoundly impacted by events associated with global warming. Easy is it in that position to put on the rose colored glasses.

Posted by RPMScott | Report as abusive

Man *WAS* the principal cause of global warming, back in the 20th Century. Now, we’ve passed the tipping point, and the Methane being released from sublimating Methane Clathrates in the rapidly melting arctic permafrost is overtaking human CO2 emissions as the primary factor in climate change. Methane is 20x more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2, and over 4,000 Billion tons of it are now evaporating around the arctic.

It cant be stopped, and may not be survivable at all. There is at least 1,000 TIMES as much frozen Methane on the sea floor, which warming seas are already starting to release. Its a runaway positive feedback loop, built into nature. It’s Venus.

Posted by PressToDigitate | Report as abusive

Those in position to bring corrective change through the political system are old enough not to be too concerned personally and would rather just schlep it out than take any courageous (and maybe at significant cost to themselves politically) corrective steps. So, on we go, down the path.

Posted by bcrawf | Report as abusive

I didn’t know ostriches could write. 30,000 years ago there weren’t 7+ billion people on the planet, hundreds of millions of whom live in low-lying areas and will be displaced or are wholly dependent on glacial melt and just plain old rain in order to procure water and grow crops. Instead of writing ignorant pablum, the author might want to explain how, logistically, financially, socially these hundreds of millions of people are to be accommodated. Any chance the author has a home in Florida or a bungalow in Bandladesh?

Posted by LionsAndLights | Report as abusive

Zachary’s argument that “Climate change doesn’t have to be all bad” is a fallacy, a weak reasoning typical of an untrained mind. This statement is as absurd as concluding that cancer doesn’t have to be all bad or that extreme poverty doesn’t have to be all bad. These absurdities are typical of traditional-orthodox economist and technocrats to defend the status quo. The argument that somebody else will come up with solutions to our problems is a lame argument that doesn’t give any contribution to the conversation. On the contrary, this argument is counterproductive because it gives a false sense of security, diminishing the urgency that our existing practices require. John Kotter, professor at Harvard and considered the most prestigious authority in change management theory, uses as the first step in his change management strategy the need to “create a sense of urgency”. Kotter states that this sense of urgency is fundamental to inspire people to move and to make objective real and relevant change; without a solid sense of urgency, any strategy for change management is destined to fail. We need to be positive and believe in our potentials to adapt to climate change, but arguing that climate change is not all bad is absurd. Our arguments should be focused on the urgency of our problems and solutions, not in potentialities for good because it can go the other way around.

Posted by Terry-Grant | Report as abusive

This counter argument is missing one extremely critical element: It is the huge and exponentially increasing pollution of various sorts that is also threatening life on this planet. It is not just global warming and all its temperature effects, but the toxic pollution that is already impacting the entire globe. There is not the slightest doubt that this pollution is man-made.

Posted by ptiffany | Report as abusive

Mr. Karabell, whether you intend it or not, you are a collaborator with the people who are destroying our climate. You criticize environmentalists for believing that discussion of mitigation is tantamount to acceptance of global warming, but several of your commenters illustrate this danger beautifully. The three legs of global warming denial have always been: 1) it’s not happening, 2) if it is, humans aren’t causing it, and 3) even if it is happening and humans are causing it, our only sensible course is to adapt. All three positions point to the same policy recommendation: don’t focus on trying to regulate carbon pollution in order to reduce the severity of global warming, and your article snuggles comfortably into the midst of every piece of Koch-financed global warming propaganda I’ve ever since. Yes, we will absolutely have to find ways to adapt to the inescapable amount of global warming that we cannot now prevent. But any piece of public writing about global warming that does not begin and end with the urgent need to do everything we can to reduce further carbon pollution is an act of collaboration that is worthy of contempt. And you have mine.

Posted by john-robert | Report as abusive

The oceans are raising because we have saved the whales and they have been busy creating more whales Thus there is more water displaced causing the higher water level.
As far as the temperature increasing that is because of air conditioning in cars. Think of the heat coming off a parked SUV with the engine running in order to keep the one person in it cool. Think of all the state highway trucks running at a construction site with the air conditioning running, and the heat created.
This is partly lol but remember it is always someone else that is the cause of my problems.

Posted by richinnc | Report as abusive

I have three objections to Karabell’s piece in “Edgy Optimism” that “Climate change doesn’t have to be all bad”
First, Gore’s Inconvenient Truth is not a jeremiad. It is neither excessively pessimistic or nor overwrought. Watch it again and you will be struck on how prescient it was, based on facts, not based on puritanical dogma. Blaming Gore eloquence on climate change for causing inaction on climate change mitigation is patently absurd.
Second, analogy the with Rotterdam and that the “The challenge isn’t to find a way to prevent floods; it’s to find a way to live with them” is completely bogus. To me, Karabell is cheering Chamberlain along; essentially saying that the bright side is that German invasion of Czechoslovakia will offer be to new insights on innovative ways to evacuate children from Prague to England. We know what the problem is, excessive C02 entering the atmosphere, and we know how to solve it, but it will take a mobilization similar to WWII. What we lack it the spine to deal with the problem at the scale required.
Finally, the end of Karabell’s item includes the telling straw-person arguments, like the tired cliché that we cannot eliminate risks in the markets, so why should do anything at all to eliminate them. For me, rather than be a call for optimism, this piece is an argument for passivity and resignation. No, I do not agree.

Posted by reutersreviewer | Report as abusive

The biggest argument for focusing on adapting to climate change rather than mitigating it is the fact that effective mitigation flies in the face of our current global economic system. The idea humans will embrace an ecologically sustainable economic model anytime soon is wishful thinking. The World Bank has already doubled its warming projections from 2 to 4 degrees by 2100, and that is if we maintain status quo. A quick review of how many new coal-fired power plants are scheduled to be built in China and India alone will tell you we’re headed for worse. So, adapt we must and adapt we will. However, my bet is in a couple of hundred years there will be a lot less of us humans running around adapting to a severely degraded planet.

Posted by changeling | Report as abusive

While I couldn’t agree more with the major thesis that far too little attention has been given to adapting to climate change, “And while halting the trend might have been feasible (just) 20 years ago, the most we can achieve now is to reduce the rate and intensity of climate change until the world’s population levels off sometime in the middle of the 21st century.” is nonsense. As the (under-reported) UK Met Office data (http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadc rut4/diagnostics.html) show, something caused warming to halt in 1997 and the trend has been down since.
Meanwhile, atmospheric CO2 has continued it’s accelerating increase and is now approximately 10% higher than in 1997. This should suggest to anybody but a fanatic that the underlying assumption (it’s worth noting that it is an assumption) behind AGW should be questioned.
Let me add that the AGW alarmist explanation for the unfortunate truth that the planet is not currently warming is that 15 years is not enough time. What significance should we therefore place on a single year?
I suspect that the only way that the author’s objective of shifting the debate to how to live with climate change is to question whether humans can significantly influence climate one way or another.

Posted by Zaichik | Report as abusive

Adaptation is the challenge, yes. But there are already “good” things going on.

Greenland is growing potatoes and barley, for the first time in 550 years.

Britain is growing grapes.

Sub-tropical fruits are growing in the temperate zone in many places.

Rain is coming to places that never had enough (though they still don’t know what to do about it!).

Posted by Albak | Report as abusive

So is Reuters ever going to report the fact that average global temp has not increased since the highs of 1998?

Even IPCC scientists have been forced to admit that their forecasting has been an epic fail.

Yes, the US has been warmer than average this last year – but Russia, China, Northern Europe have been colder than average.

THERE HAS BEEN NO INCREASE IN AVERAGE GLOBAL TEMP FOR 15 years.

When is Reuters going to stop misleading the American people?

Posted by Parker1227 | Report as abusive

Usually “obstacles” are real, rather than the product of environmentalists’ fevered imaginations, junk science, or noble cause corruption.

Posted by TallDave | Report as abusive

Sorry but the very premise of this article, that 2012 was the warmest on record, is not only inane (the record is so short as to be meaningless in terms of climate variation) but it cannot even be said to be true with any confidence whatever.

Not only are US temperature trends being overstated by poor choice of site for recording stations (until recent changes after an amateur blogger exposed this scandal over 90% of sites could not give temperature to the nearest 1 degree C (well over 1 degree F)) but the past temperature records are corrupt. They have frequently been changed, for no apparent reason. It is estimated that over 2/3 of those changes are to reduce temperatures in old records, increasing the apparent trend. When asked no sound reason was given for making the change, just some bizarre claim that it makes the temperature records better. No explanation as to how this bizarre claim can possibly be true.

So how do we know 1934 was not warmer? We no longer know how warm it was then, and we don’t know how warm it is now.

Posted by DoubtingRich | Report as abusive

But then, liberals couldn’t invent new taxes and new ways to control me.

Posted by segesta | Report as abusive

We’re not going to stop India and China from continuing to pump out greater and greater amounts of CO2 without unpalatable efforts, so mitigation of the effects is the best option available.

The other advantage of mitigation is that whether or not the climate change is anthropogenic, we have a solution. If punitive cuts in CO2 emissions don’t lead to colder temperatures, we’ve wasted trillions of dollars with not much to show for it.

Posted by patjenn | Report as abusive

Not only has the world stopped warming from 1998, the US’s hot year of 2012 is a hoax, remove the post 1930s weather stations in urban areas the US is much colder.

The world well may have to face an increasingly colder plant with high crop failures due to the weakening sunspot cycles of 23, 24 and the nearly flat cycle 25 that is predicted. 25% of all Scottish died from crop failures in the last grand minimum.

In the past 10,500 years since the last ice age, earth has been warmer or much warmer that today’s moderately cooler climate 9,800+ years. It really is the sun’s interaction with the earth, cosmic rays, UV radiation variations. CO2 is plant food.

Posted by Visionar | Report as abusive

Nobody is looking at the long range picture. We are carbon based life forms and CO2 is a vital component of the carbon cycle. CO2 is the carrier of carbon ,from dead plants and animals, back to living, growing plants. The atmospheric content of CO2 was at a peak in the carboniferous period at about 2500 PPM. The earths plant and animal life was at an optimal maximum back then. Geologic events buried 80% of this carbon, took it out of the cycle, reducing atmospheric CO2 to our 400PPM we have today. Un-coincidentally, those of us with greenhouses know that increasing the CO2 content of our hothouses to that 2500PPM level provides maximum plant growth. With earths population approaching 10 billion, we should be doing all we can to increase food production. We can’t increase sunlight or land but we can increase CO2. Will doing so increase climate change? Probably, but this will just have to be dealt with. Additionally,warming up useless land in Canada and Siberia as well as freeing the arctic of its non productive ice is a plus. This is the reality mankind will eventually realize, and the STUPID OPPORTUNIST politicians are not helping.

Posted by OldFarmerBrown | Report as abusive

Look at the longer term to assess climate change.

Never forget that the last millennium 1000 – 2000 AD, according to ice core data, was the coolest of the current benign Holocene epoch, since the last real ice age. At ~12,000 years our happy Holocene, the period responsible for the development of all human civilizations is getting long in the tooth. Overall it has been cooler than the previous Eemian epoch and its end is now overdue when compared with earlier shorter more intense warmer interglacials.

So whether the diminishing sunspot cycle and changing ocean circulation patterns lead to another Little Ice Age or perhaps to the impending real end of the Holocene epoch during this millennium, the one thing that the world should not be concerned about is a little Global Warming, well within the level of natural variations that have been seen in the past 12,000 years.

A cooling, rather than a warming, world leads to both a reduction in agricultural productivity with huge deprivation for Mankind and natural life worldwide. It also probably leads to more extreme weather events, (possibly even like hurricane Sandy). There is very good reason to expect worsening weather events in a cooling, rather than a worming world because the temperature differential between the tropics and the poles is enhanced.

But now the Western world is continually being pressured by propaganda and has widely enacted legislation about “Global Warming / Climate Change / Global Climate Disruption”. These definitions have meant that any adverse weather event can be ascribed to “Climate Change” and thus be blamed on the destructive actions of Mankind.

The Catastrophic Climate Change Alarmists back every horse whichever way it runs. Nonetheless all Alarmist policy recommendations are only intended to control excessive Global Overheating by the reduction of Man-made CO2 emissions.

It is not clear how reducing CO2 emissions would help save the world from a climate change towards a cooling world which now seems to be occurring nor how it could ameliorate severe weather events.

It may be that the climate establishment is gradually coming to its senses. Not only has the Met Office admitted that warming has stopped but also NASA, no doubt much to the chagrin of James Hansen, has now released information that it believes that the sun, rather than CO2 influences climate.

See http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/sci ence-at-nasa/2013/08jan_sunclimate/

Posted by edmh | Report as abusive

Excuse me, but before the data was “adjusted” by warmist researchers, the hottest years by far were in the 1930′s.

See http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2013/ 01/09/2012-didnt-crack-the-top-ten-for-r ecord-maximums/

Posted by Miner49er | Report as abusive