There are benefits to global warming, says UK climate official

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Britain’s cabinet minister responsible for tackling global warming told an audience at the Conservative Party conference that there is an upside to global warming.

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Owen Patterson says there will be advantages to global warming, including fewer people dying from cold winters and the ability to grow crops further north.

“Remember that for humans, the biggest cause of death is cold in winter, far bigger than heat in summer,” Patterson told an audience Sunday night. “It would also lead to longer growing seasons and you could extend growing a little further north into some of the colder areas.”

“People get very emotional about this subject and I think we should just accept that the climate has been changing for centuries,” he said.

Patterson also noted that he was “relieved” the United Nation’s climate authority’s recent climate report found that global warming has not been nearly as catastrophic as was previously predicted by scientists.

“I actually see this report as something we need to take seriously, but I am rather relieved that it is not as catastrophic in its forecast as we had been led to believe early on, and what it is saying is something we can adapt to over time and we are very good as a race at adapting,” he said.

Patterson was called out at the meeting by Guy Newey with the Policy Exchange think tank, who said the minister is taking a dangerous gamble by not acting to prevent global warming.

“The point that the climate has been changing for centuries understates the size of the problem that we are facing and the size of the action we need to overcome it,” Newey said during the meeting. “We really have no idea of knowing what is going to happen in terms of temperature. The risk is really very scary … I worry that some of the language that Owen uses — that we can actually wait and see what happens — is a big risk.”

As governments continue to push for an international agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, some argue that it is much more effective for countries to adapt to a changing climate than fight it.

A new project called “50:1” argues that it is fifty times more expensive to tackle global warming than it is to simply adapt to it.

According to the project, it costs $540 trillion to reduce warming by 0.17 degrees Celsius in the next ten years — or $77,000 per person in the world. That’s 80 percent of global gross domestic product over that time period — which the World Bank estimates will be $670 trillion. But the benefits of avoiding the predicted 1.4 degrees Celsius warming over the last 23 years would be equivalent to 1.5 percent of global gross domestic product.

“It is at least 50 times more expensive and less cost-effective to mitigate CO2 emissions by typical measures such as Australia’s carbon tax than to take no action at all today and, instead, to meet the later and far lesser cost of climate-related damage arising from unabated global warming of 3 Cº the day after tomorrow,” according to “50:1”.

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