More evidence this week shows the effects of global warming may be largely exaggerated

Der Spiegel, Europe's largest weekly news magazine, has a lengthy piece on the effects of global warming.  Their conclusion, reached from interviews with prominent scientists, matches what you've been reading here in this blog for the past year.  There's absolutely nothing to panic about. 

According to the study, most nations will actually benefit from global warming, with drought-stricken areas like sub-Saharan Africa seeing a bit more rain, and extremely cold areas like Northern Europe blessed with a more moderate climate and longer growing seasons.  The Southeastern U.S. is expected to see a little less rain, but for tourism-heavy Florida (which bills itself as the "Sunshine State" despite abnormally high rainfall) this may be a net positive as well.

Nations like Germany and Scandinavia are predicted to see a tourism boom, along with saving billions in winter heating costs.  Areas already tropically hot are not expected to see temperature increases, but Germany alone is predicted to see up to 40,000 fewer deaths per year from cold-related illnesses.

More precise computer models have drastically reduced the anticipated amount of sea level rise.  It now stands at 16 inches over the next century ... a per-year rate which is tiny, and can easily be compensated in storm-surge prone areas by building taller dikes. 

As for increasing storm activity, the models just don't support it. The report indicates that cloud cover is the most significant factor in global warming models.  High clouds generally indicate warming activity, lower clouds indicate cooling.  Storm activity, it seems, does not play a direct correlation to cooling and warming cycles.

A few quote highlights from the piece:

  • "We have to take away people's fear of climate change," Hans von Storch, climate researcher,  director of the Institute for Coastal Research.
  • "According to our computer model, neither the number nor intensity of storms is increasing," Jochem Marotzke, director, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology.
  • "A warmer climate helps promote species diversity," Munich zoologist Josef Reichholf.

Here in the U.S., the Wisconsin Energy Cooperative Monthly has published an interview with Professor Reid Bryson, founder of the Center for Climatic Research, and the most cited climatologist in the world.  Bryson, one of the first researchers to claim humans were capable of affecting the climate, has this to say on the warming debate:

"All this argument is the temperature going up or not, it’s absurd.  Of course it’s going up. It has gone up since the early 1800s, before the Industrial Revolution, because we’re coming out of the Little Ice Age, not because we’re putting more carbon dioxide into the air.”

He points out recently-found silver mines and irrigation canals, found underneath retreating glacial ice sheets in the Alps, clear proof these areas were ice-free during the Middle Ages.   He also reveals some interesting statistics on the relative effects of various greenhouse gases, noting that water vapor is responsible for 80% of all absorbed heat, whereas CO2 accounts for only 0.08% -- a thousandth as much.

Bryson makes a number of other telling points.  The interview is highly recommended to anyone interested in separating fact from hype in the global warming debate.

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