Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Predictions and perspective

The Doomsday people have been wrong every time. Will they finally be right on global warming? No one can know but their batting average is a fact of life.

An interesting and temperate approach is by Indur M. Goklany, who asks: "Is Climate Change the 21st Century's Most Urgent Environmental Problem?" We know that the Copenhagen Consensus had concluded that it is not.

Goklany looks at the plausible "good", "bad" and "indifferent" consequences of climate change. Only if these are understood, can the costs of Kyoto (or similar) protocols be placed into perspective. Yes, warmer weather also has beneficial effects. Here is one I like: the decrease in forest cover would be reversed. Goklany cites "Fingerprints of Global Warming on Wild Animals and Plants" from Nature (2003) that suggests that we would get more forest cover -- and some stemming of CO2 growth.

The food fight that is now underway detracts from a hard look at the complex synergies -- and a clearer perspective.