Some thoughts on effects of global warming

To the editor:

There I was the other day, with two sweaters on, looking out the window at the polar vortex and wondering what my heat bill was going to be, and on the TV was a cluster of activists yelling about global warming, and I thought to myself: is global warming going to be all that bad? So, I found a magazine with a list of global warming effects and stared thinking about them.

Coastal flooding. Beaches are always at risk of floods. People clean up and life goes on. If this became so serious that people would have to move inland, at least they could get nice new houses, and there would be a lot of new construction jobs.

Large Precipitation Events. This means more rain or more snow, but because it’s going to be warmer, probably more rain. The lack of rainfall has seemed to be a big problem, particularly in California because the politicians didn’t provide money for more reservoirs for the times when in did rain. There seem to be a lot of places in the world that could use more rain.

Droughts. Hey, wait a second! You just said there would probably be more rain. Take your pick!

Hurricanes. People generally recover from hurricanes, without much loss of life. People know where hurricanes go, and I don’t think that many people move out of these areas; in fact, I think the Carolinas are a population growth area. Whether twice as many hurricanes would change this is debatable, but the risk is property, not lives.

A hotter planet. Most people in the world live above 20 degrees north. If the equatorial regions got hotter, that would not affect that many people; on the other hand, if the northern temperate zones were to get a little hotter, that would open up hundreds of millions of acres of habitable land in Canada and Siberia. (Maybe I should load up on Winnipeg real estate.) In any event, the planet would have more energy, which doesn’t seem a bad thing.

Those who alarm us about possible future catastrophes seem to assume that people will always do what they’re doing now. That’s not true: if conditions change over time (as climate may), people will adjust over time. They will build more hurricane-proof houses, they will move, air conditioners will get cheaper, whatever. Scientists are intellectuals, and politicians pretend to be intellectuals. Intellectuals think that the rest of us who are not intellectuals just stand around doing nothing, waiting to be told what to do next. We don’t: when we get up in the morning, we start doing what has to be done. We don’t wait around for the government to tell us what to do. Government programs often lead, by the Law of Unintended Consequences, in the wrong direction, so that their cures for global warming would probably lead to global cooling — and then my heat bill would really go through the roof.

John Brittain