Study: Global Warming Enhances Output and Health, Helps Poor
by Matthew Vardum
April 22, 2014
The modest increase in temperatures observed across the globe over the last century has helped to raise the standard of living of people around the world, according to a report from the National Center for Policy Analysis.
The NCPA report stands in stark contrast to the most recent report from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which consistently advocates giving the United Nations authority to tax and regulate fossil fuels, along with the power to subsidize and compel the use of alternative energy.
The IPCC document, known as the Working Group II Contribution to the Fifth Assessment Report, was released earlier this month. The paper predicts severe consequences for the planet if the global warming trend continues unabated.
The IPCC report claims there is a "risk of severe harm for large urban populations due to inland flooding" along with "risk of death, injury, and disrupted livelihoods in low-lying coastal zones and small island developing states, due to sea-level rise, coastal flooding, and storm surges."
Global warming also presents the "risk of food insecurity linked to warming, drought, and precipitation variability, particularly for poorer populations," and will have an adverse impact on "rural livelihoods and income due to insufficient access to drinking and irrigation water and reduced agricultural productivity, particularly for farmers and pastoralists with minimal capital in semi-arid regions."
But this simply isn't true, according to the NCPA.
The Earth's climate has shifted many times through history and prehistory, from tropical to frigid and back again. Over the preceding century and a half, average temperatures have gone up slightly, though the ongoing warming trend has apparently been on pause for the last 16-year period.
"Contrary to popular belief, climate change thus far has had positive effects, and the net benefits of warming are likely to be positive for the foreseeable future," according to the report by NCPA senior fellow H. Sterling Burnett.
The 0.8 degree Celsius (1.4 degree Fahrenheit) increase in the Earth's temperature since 1880 has boosted global economic output by 1.4 percent, he asserts. It accomplished this by increasing agricultural production, cutting heating costs, and generating many other economic benefits.
Decreasing worldwide temperatures, on the other hand, portend upheaval and death, as they have for millions of years.
"Cooling kills, and that is what is to fear," climate expert Christopher C. Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute told Newsmax.
"Warming periods throughout history — which the [global warming] alarmists airbrushed out of history — have always been called 'climate optima,' for very good reasons," said Horner, the author of two best-selling books on the climate debate.
Defying the supposedly conventional wisdom that global warming will inevitably lead to disaster, Burnett says that the current warming trend will lead to even more economic growth.
Because the Earth is warming, the 1.4 percent economic growth figure is expected to rise to 1.5 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025.
Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, a principal greenhouse gas, have risen to 380 parts per million, up from 280 parts per million 150 years ago, Burnett acknowledged.
But the higher concentrations of carbon dioxide have made farmers more productive, which in turn has added 0.8 percent to global GDP. Warmer temperatures also allow thermostats to be turned down, which has added 0.4 percent to global GDP.
"An additional 1.5 percent of global output is the difference between survival and starvation for many people," Burnett said. "Because wealth rates among the most significant factors in health, increasing wealth will help future people better adapt to whatever warming (or cooling) occurs."
Increased carbon dioxide levels help to fertilize plants, many of which evolved long ago when the naturally occurring carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere were higher. Higher carbon dioxide levels in the air also allow plants to use water more efficiently, and with the increased temperatures, there are fewer growth-inhibiting frosts, and growing seasons last longer.
Agronomist and geographer Craig Idso has expressed the benefits that can be attributed to enhanced carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere in monetary terms.
A boost of 300 parts per million increases plant biomass to 55 percent from 25 percent, said Idso, who is chairman of the board of the Arizona-based Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change. Between now and 2050, rising carbon dioxide levels will add roughly $9.8 trillion in agricultural production to the global GDP, Idso calculated.
The world's poor, especially residents of Africa, will disproportionately reap the benefits of rising carbon dioxide concentrations.
"Despite ongoing strife and political instability, Africa is growing faster than any other continent, with one-third of African countries topping annual growth rates of 6 percent," Burnett noted.
Increases in carbon dioxide levels have contributed to the "re-greening" of much of Africa, Burnett said.
"African farmers are rediscovering traditional crops better suited to warm, dry conditions than those introduced by colonial governments, and they are reclaiming desert and arid brushy areas. Satellite photographs now reveal verdant blocks of green where once there were only brown and gray."
According to the World Bank, the agricultural GDP increase in sub-Saharan Africa jumped from 2.3 percent annually in the 1980s to 3.8 percent annually from 2000 to 2005, which constitutes a dramatic 65 percent increase
"Contrary to what the media and charities report, fewer Africans face famine now than at any time since the world began counting," Burnett said.
In Uganda and 15 countries in West Africa, "food production now outpaces population growth," he added. "In Ghana, for instance, farm output has jumped 5 percent every year for the past 20 years, while the poverty rate has fallen in half. Even Malawi and Ethiopia, infamous for food insecurity in recent years, now grow record amounts of crops, exporting surpluses."
Decreased morbidity and mortality are additional benefits to global warming, according to Burnett. One of the great benefits of a warming world is fewer premature deaths related to the cold.
During the last significant warming period, Viking explorers created settlements in then-temperate Greenland and human lifespans grew. When the climate cooled, ice sheets expanded again, the Vikings left Greenland, crops failed, and lifespans grew shorter.
People everywhere in the world generally live longer when summers are warmer. In both the UK and warmer Greece, mortality rates jump 18 percent every winter. Deaths from the flu, other health problems, and cardiac failure all spike in winter.
"For the last decade, Brits have been dying from the cold at the average rate of 29,000 excess deaths each winter," British science journalist Matt Ridley wrote in the Spectator.
"Compare this to the heat wave 10 years ago, which claimed 15,000 lives in France and just 2,000 in Britain. In the 10 years since, there has been no summer death spike at all. Excess winter deaths hit the poor harder than the rich for the obvious reason: They cannot afford heating."