Calming Fears of Climate Change in Asia

August 27, 2014

Many climate studies have focused on South and Southeast Asia, as the region is considered uniquely vulnerable to the projected effects of climate change such as a reduction in crop yields, rising sea levels, flooding, a loss of biodiversity and drought. Many of these Asian countries are islands or are on peninsulas, with highly populated coastal cities; if climate change predictions come true, these countries would be highly vulnerable.

In a paper for the National Center for Policy Analysis, Research Associate Tanner Davis explains that the five cities deemed at the most "extreme risk" for climate change by global risk analysis company Maplecroft are Dhaka, Mumbai, Kolkata, Manila and Bangkok -- all of which are in South or Southeast Asia. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, global warming poses a special risk to these two regions.

But while climate change alarmists have suggested that higher temperatures will increase food insecurity in Asia, food production has been increasing for the last half-century:

  • Since the 1990s, food production in Southeast Asia has increased substantially.
  • South Asia has kept a stable supply of arable land, and the amount of arable land in Southeast Asia has increased.
  • In fact, according to agronomist Craig Idso, increased levels of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere has increased, not decreased, plant production.

Similarly, while many have raised concerns about sea level rise, there is no consensus on the amount of rise. According to the World Bank, were the sea level to rise by one meter, just 1 to 2 percent of land area, population and farmland in developing countries would be affected, and GDP would fall by 0.5 percent to 2 percent.

Davis distinguishes what he calls "mitigation" from "adaptation." Mitigation, he says, seeks to combat climate change by embarking upon new projects or instituting measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to curb climate change. Adaptation, on the other hand, consists of strategies to deal with the effects of global warming, such as rehabilitating coral, engaging in water resource management and protecting wildlife.

As climate science is so uncertain and unsettled, writes Davis, adaptation is the more cost-effective approach to climate change.

Source: Tanner Davis, "Calming Fears of Climate Change in South and Southeast Asia," National Center for Policy Analysis, August 27, 2014. 

 

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