The Effects of Global Warming (And Cooling)

Climate Change is now back on the front page as Washington tries to move IRS, VA, DOJ, Obamacare, and Benghazi to the back pages. This newsletter addresses the expected effects of global warming, the actual effects of past global warming, and the results of global cooling. I am sticking with the term “global warming” because I don’t know the objectives of the current term, “climate change.”
Rather than reinvent the wheel, I have turned to Issue 13, “He’s Betting the Farm on Global Warming”, of my book, All You REALLY Need to Know About Economics, pages 110 – 114.

The Center for American Progress has identified the top 100 effects of global warming and listed them on its web site. Some are worth mentioning, although their validity may be in doubt:
Say goodbye to California and French wine because viticulture regions will shift toward the “poles, cooler coastal zones and higher elevations”.
Say goodbye to baseball because ash trees from which baseball bats are made will disappear. The pros will have to use aluminum bats and we will no longer hear the “crack of the bat.” It will be more like the high school “clunk of the bat.”
Likewise Christmas trees. With warm temperatures, the pine bark beetle will return and wipe out all the forests in the Great Northwest. Everybody will have to use those disgusting fake Christmas trees that my daughter has always hated.
Say goodbye to fly fishing and skiing. Rainbow trout will die and it should be obvious why there will be no more winter ski vacations. There won’t be any more winter.
No more dinners of salmon or lobster. They both require cool water to live.
No more Guacamole salad, mixed nuts, or French-fried potatoes, because the weather will be too warm for these to grow.
No more meadows of wild flowers and pretty lawns. Weeds that like hot weather will replace them. And there will be more dandelions, which will grow “taller, lusher, and more resilient,” and there will be more poison ivy.
Polar bears will die when they get tired of swimming and gray whales will die in the warm water, but there will be more mosquitoes.
Other animals that we can say goodbye to include Penguins, arctic foxes, Walruses (Walri?), Koala bears, frogs, North Sea Cod, 75% of our world-wide birds, snails, and lemmings (I thought they had all run off the cliff already!).
And finally, global warming will kill the planet! There will be more fires and we humans will all get sick and die, and won’t give a damn about all of the above
These are just a few of the dooms-day predictions of the true believers. It will be worth your time to go to the Center for American Progress web site and read them all for yourself. It would have been nice if the would emphasize the up side of global warming, such as the large number of middle-class Americans in Atlanta who would be proud new owners of ocean front property.
Predicting what the future might bring is a little iffy. I know, economists are supposed to take great joy in detailing several things we can expect to happen “on the one hand” and several more “on the other hand,” so that no matter what happens the economist can say, “See? I told you so!” The story goes that one economist predicted seven of the last two recessions. Each time one of the two recessions occurred, he said, “See? I told you so!” I like to stay out of the predicting business, being satisfied to let others think I don’t know what I’m talking about rather than open my mouth and remove all doubt (thanks, Mark). It’s easier to take a look at what global warming has done so far.
In the middle of the 19th century, Europe came out of an extended cold snap that became known as the “Little Ice Age.” During the LIA (mid 13th century to mid 19th century), average temperatures were about 3 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than what we consider “normal.” Winters were longer and more severe, and summers were cooler and short. Agricultural growing seasons were shortened by as much as two months, which contributed to shortages in the supply of grains and higher prices. The poorest harvest and highest prices were in 1826 – “the year without a summer.” Thousands of poor people died. Stocks of hay to feed animals ran out and cows had to be slaughtered.
Wine-drinkers had to say goodbye to their favorite beverages (paradoxically, a predicted effect of global warming) because temperatures became too cold for grape production in southern England. In other areas, late harvests and wet summers resulted in many bad years for wine.
The LIA affected the health of people in Europe and America. A disease called St. Anthony’s Fire, causing hallucinations, convulsions, gangrene, and even death, resulted from cool and humid summers. Stored grain developed various fungi that caused sickness in humans. Malnutrition even hastened the spread of Bubonic Plague.
And of course, all of the above had a pretty severe economic impact. Higher prices resulted from shortened growing seasons. Some mines were closed and farms were destroyed because of advancing glaciers. Vintners went broke because there was little wine to be sold. Oppressive governments and landlords collected less tax revenue, which made them more oppressive. And there was social unrest because there was little wine available to still tempers.
These were the effects of the Little Ice Age, and they were all problems. The effect of global warming was that it solved all these problems.

Posted by at May 28, 2014
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