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Positives and negatives of global warming

What the science says...

Select a level... Basic Intermediate Advanced

Negative impacts of global warming on agriculture, health & environment far outweigh any positives.

Climate Myth...

It's not bad

"By the way, if you’re going to vote for something, vote for warming. Less deaths due to cold, regions more habitable, larger crops, longer growing season. That’s good. Warming helps the poor." (John MacArthur)

Here’s a list of cause and effect relationships, showing that most climate change impacts will confer few or no benefits, but may do great harm at considerable cost.


While CO2 is essential for plant growth, all agriculture depends also on steady water supplies, and climate change is likely to disrupt those supplies through floods and droughts. It has been suggested that higher latitudes – Siberia, for example – may become productive due to global warming, but the soil in Arctic and bordering territories is very poor, and the amount of sunlight reaching the ground in summer will not change because it is governed by the tilt of the earth. Agriculture can also be disrupted by wildfires and changes in seasonal periodicity, which is already taking place, and changes to grasslands and water supplies could impact grazing and welfare of domestic livestock. Increased warming may also have a greater effect on countries whose climate is already near or at a temperature limit over which yields reduce or crops fail – in the tropics or sub-Sahara, for example.


Warmer winters would mean fewer deaths, particularly among vulnerable groups like the aged. However, the same groups are also vulnerable to additional heat, and deaths attributable to heatwaves are expected to be approximately five times as great as winter deaths prevented. It is widely believed that warmer climes will encourage migration of disease-bearing insects like mosquitoes and malaria is already appearing in places it hasn’t been seen before.

Polar Melting

While the opening of a year-round ice free Arctic passage between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans would confer some commercial benefits, these are considerably outweighed by the negatives. Detrimental effects include loss of polar bear habitat and increased mobile ice hazards to shipping. The loss of ice albedo (the reflection of heat), causing the ocean to absorb more heat, is also a positive feedback; the warming waters increase glacier and Greenland ice cap melt, as well as raising the temperature of Arctic tundra, which then releases methane, a very potent greenhouse gas (methane is also released from the sea-bed, where it is trapped in ice-crystals called clathrates). Melting of the Antarctic ice shelves is predicted to add further to sea-level rise with no benefits accruing.

Ocean Acidification

A cause for considerable concern, there appear to be no benefits to the change in pH of the oceans. This process is caused by additional CO2 being absorbed in the water, and may have severe destabilising effects on the entire oceanic food-chain.

Melting Glaciers

The effects of glaciers melting are largely detrimental, the principle impact being that many millions of people (one-sixth of the world’s population) depend on fresh water supplied each year by natural spring melt and regrowth cycles and those water supplies – drinking water, agriculture – may fail.

Sea Level Rise

Many parts of the world are low-lying and will be severely affected by modest sea rises. Rice paddies are being inundated with salt water, which destroys the crops. Seawater is contaminating rivers as it mixes with fresh water further upstream, and aquifers are becoming polluted. Given that the IPCC did not include melt-water from the Greenland and Antarctic ice-caps due to uncertainties at that time, estimates of sea-level rise are feared to considerably underestimate the scale of the problem. There are no proposed benefits to sea-level rise.


Positive effects of climate change may include greener rainforests and enhanced plant growth in the Amazon, increased vegitation in northern latitudes and possible increases in plankton biomass in some parts of the ocean. Negative responses may include further growth of oxygen poor ocean zones, contamination or exhaustion of fresh water, increased incidence of natural fires, extensive vegetation die-off due to droughts, increased risk of coral extinction, decline in global photoplankton, changes in migration patterns of birds and animals, changes in seasonal periodicity, disruption to food chains and species loss.


The economic impacts of climate change may be catastrophic, while there have been very few benefits projected at all. The Stern report made clear the overall pattern of economic distress, and while the specific numbers may be contested, the costs of climate change were far in excess of the costs of preventing it. Certain scenarios projected in the IPCC AR4 report would witness massive migration as low-lying countries were flooded. Disruptions to global trade, transport, energy supplies and labour markets, banking and finance, investment and insurance, would all wreak havoc on the stability of both developed and developing nations. Markets would endure increased volatility and institutional investors such as pension funds and insurance companies would experience considerable difficulty.

Developing countries, some of which are already embroiled in military conflict, may be drawn into larger and more protracted disputes over water, energy supplies or food, all of which may disrupt economic growth at a time when developing countries are beset by more egregious manifestations of climate change. It is widely accepted that the detrimental effects of climate change will be visited largely on the countries least equipped to adapt, socially or economically.

Basic rebuttal written by GPWayne

Update July 2015:

Here is a related lecture-video from Denial101x - Making Sense of Climate Science Denial


Last updated on 5 July 2015 by pattimer. View Archives

Printable Version  |  Offline PDF Version  |  Link to this page

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Related Arguments

Further reading

National Geographic have an informative article listing the various positives and negatives of global warming for Greenland.

Climate Wizard is an interactive tool that lets you examine projected temperature and precipitation changes for any part of the world.

A good overview of the impacts of ocean acidification is found in Ken Caldeira's What Corals are Dying to Tell Us About CO2 and Ocean Acidification


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Comments 351 to 400 out of 404:

  1. Earthling: "It would seem that we humans have probably done ourselves a favour by acting to avoid a decline in global temperature."

    What, by missing the next glacial period 1500 to 5000 years from now?  Sure, the LIA sucked, but so did the PETM and end-Permian.  The PETM event involved a change in global average temp of 5C over 12,000 years.  That's what extreme looks like.  We're doing about 40x the rate of PETM warming.  In what shape will we be when the time comes for us to miss the next glacial period?  When is the best time to develop sustainable energy and greenhouse management technology?  When the world is rich in energy resources and relatively stable politically, economically, and socially?  Or when cheap energy is diminishing, food prices are rising, climate is persistently unstable, and many more people are on the move trying to find a better place to live?  I think the idea is that we reach the next "missed" glacial period without having gone through the school of hard knocks and instead having shown that we're mature enough to drive the family car.

  2. "Increased deaths to heatwaves - 5.74% increase to heatwaves compared to 1.59% to cold snaps (Medina-Ramon 2007)"

    SO? This has no context in terms of the general population mortality. The CDC figures on US death rates (2007-8) are quite clear, 900 more people per million die in cold weather, at temperatures below 12 degrees, that's in excess of 250000 people annually! Intermittent Heatwave 'costs' in terms of mortality are insignificant compared to the 'benefit' of a warmer continental US. You must excuse me but without appropriate context, noting studies like this distorts our necessary perception and responses to climate change.


  3. @Ray Coleman #352

    You blithely assert, 

    Intermittent Heatwave 'costs' in terms of mortality are insignificant compared to the 'benefit' of a warmer continental US.

     Please provide documentation to support your statement.

  4. Hmm.  Available evidence shows that it is the human adaptation to weather extremes that is key in limiting mortality.  Evidence for that assertion:

    "Adaptation measures have prevented a significant increase in heat-related mortality and considerably enhanced a significant decrease in cold-related mortality. The analysis also suggests that in the absence of any adaptive processes, the human influence on climate would have been the main contributor to both increases in heat-related mortality and decreases in cold-related mortality."


    "With regard to heat-related mortality, projected future increases in the frequency and intensity of heat waves may exert a stress beyond the adaptive limits of the population."

    Causes for the recent changes in cold- and heat-related mortality in England and Wales
    Nikolaos Christidis, Gavin C. Donaldson, Peter A. Stott; Climatic Change, October 2010


    That's called supporting an assertion with evidence.

  5. without appropriate context noting studies like this distorts our necessary perception and responses to climate change

    You mean such as, say, omitting the peak season for influenza in the United States from consideration?

    With studies such as this, or news articles such as this, it appears much of the seasonal mortality in winter is the result of not the weather, but of the seasonal variation in influenza circulation.

    Or perhaps you mean, say, referring strictly to seasonal trends in mortality in a single country rather than from a global perspective?

  6. an additional contribution to reduced heat in the near term can be derived from the cooler sea surface temperatures which reduces the amount of tropical thunderstorm activity which results in a decrease in moisture transport to the lower stratosphere.  This effect is also compounded by a recent decline in stratospheric ozone.  When there is less water vapor in the lower stratosphere the radiative forcing declines.  this is seen as contributing to the reduction in atmospheric heating.  Jeff Masters wrote an excellent article on this on his blog:


  7. Russ, what you define as the "consensus research" never set out to measure consensus on the danger, so why complain about it? After all, the IPCC has already established a level of consensus in WG II, a report that summarizes much of the existing research on impacts (citing over 12,000 publications). How much more of a consensus do you want? Do you find that none of the WG II conclusions constitutes a significant adverse impact?

  8. Link to Nyegaard 2007 is broken. I even tried to google it, but there's too little information to begin with. If someone could provide a new link, or at least more info (like the name of the paper), it would be greatly appreciated.

  9. What if a reduction in CO2 emissions doesn't prevent further global warming?

  10. Hoges,

    When you are stuck in the bottom of a hole the first rule is always to Stop Digging.  There is nothing we can do about pollution already released.  If we reduce what we currently produce the final temperature will be lower than if we dig up as much carbon as possible.  The stronger the steps we take now, the smaller the final problem we will have to deal with.  Scieentists believe that if we stop polluting now the problem will not be too bad, we have to work on the presumption that they are correct.

  11. @343-347 discussing the 2009 Tol research review of overall impact to humans of climate change, quantified in dollars. 

    This article needs to be part of the Further Reading associated with this argument. It reflects the state of economic knowledge about climate change impacts, published in the premier economics journal used to summarize research to date. To my knowledge the Tol research review hasn't been updated. 

    I am not sure if AR4 or AR5 incorporates this review or the studies it summarizes/synthesizes. If not would like to understand reasons for exclusion.  If so, the SKS write up needs to do a better job incorporating the research into this part of its site. The current write up doesn't fairly represent uncertainty that exists in the current science focused on quantifying net impacts of climate change. That said, the science still shows that rational decision makers should be willing to pay to reduce carbon emissions, which goes toward debunking the claim that we do not yet know enough to act. 

  12. There is an update to Tol 2009.  See Jourrnal of Economic Perspectives 28(2): 221-26, Spring 2014. Update corrects errors in 2009 article and adds 5 new studies. Shows that GDP impact is negative for any increase in temperature anomaly. Previous paper showed positive impact up to 2degC anomaly. While Tol 2014 does not update estimate of optimal carbon tax, guessing it will be substantially higher than the original $45 per ton. 

  13. Good article and comments on Tol's corrections at And Then There's Physics.

  14. Good working paper summarizing research on social cost of carbon (SCC). SCC is basically the amount of an optimal tax that would "internalize" the negative impacts of carbon, expressed as $ per ton of carbon emissions. See Havranek et al. 2014 CUDARE Working Papers #1139.  Correcting for publication bias, estimates of SCC are in the range $0 - $130 per tC, in 2010 USD for emission year 2015.  Still a lot of uncertainty, but still suggests that optimal policy involves a positive tax on carbon, as high as $130 per ton. 

  15. I hope I am not posting in the wrong thread, but: instead of aiming for a less than 2 degree rise in temperature shouldn't we be talking in terms of sea level rise?


    For instance I live on a hill and 5 metres isn't going to get to where I live but it will decimate the city and every supporting resource for the best part of 100 square kilometres, minimum!


    The answer could be quickly retorted that we don't know what kind of temperature that equates to and seeing as 2 degrees is a nice round figure that a population of billions can understand we'll go with that...


    Thus, the problem can now be seen as an inability to communicate at the most basic level making this a very bad problem indeed! Further, I am saying that the inability to respond to this basic communication problem will lead to panic when the problem becomes understood by the masses yet the lack of communication skills to be able to indicate that it has been appreciated and understood becomes the more pressing issue.

    .. I'm saying the important issue of the clear and present danger involved, i.e. a numerical value for sea level rise, is missing from the conversation!

  16. ...and 'that' is bad!!

  17. As an example: if a man on upon hearing about this climate thingy were to question if a 4 metre sea level rise were already locked in by 2300, what sort of answer would he receive?

    I'm not being flippant, I'm directly asking if he would only receive waffle or would he be able to get a direct answer?

    This is what I mean by the communication breakdown arising from the fact sea-levels are not being communicated and thus engaged with. (Yes- I do have method!!)

  18. Great to see such a clear overview of the advantages and disadvantages of climate warming. I've shared this with several people I know that don't believe global warming is a serious problem.



    [PS] Removed link. Periliously close to SPAM which remove all posts and posting priviledges

  19. little birdy told me that there is no money for Glacier Research. Is this true?

    If it is this can't be good can it?? If the myth being addressed is that the problem is not bad then can some mention of this be made in a revision of the answer to this skeptical questioning of the science.

    I don't want to push the point and it's not my site but it would seem appropriate is all I'm saying.

    I'm just saying it gives me the chills to hear that this could be a reality: that there is indeed no money for Glacier Research at a time when we are seeing funny rates of change to other indicators of climate change, namely the sea ice in the Arctic.

    Isn't science all about corroboration?


    Of course, this is an excellent web-site and we all enjoy using it.

  20. Loss of sea ice is currently the greatest in the Barents Sea area, York explained, where the summer ice-free period is now 20 weeks longer than when records began in 1979.


    How can a "summer ice-free period" being 20 weeks longer than 36 years ago be a good thing

  21. On the matter of the "goodness" or "badness" of outcomes, scepticism in the scientific sense is not relevent - because it is not a scientific question. It would be scientific to ask whether a given outcome is more or less likely under different global climate conditions (but sadly, few such predictions are scientifially checked, on either side of the debate). 

    It is elightening, though, to look at the stats. Cliamte change alarm supporters invariably cite all or virtually all consequences as "bad". They will fargue the toss each and every time a "good" outcome is found.

    Statistically speaking, is it reasonable for a small change in climate to have 10, 100 or 1000 times more "bad" consequences than "good"? No. Even if there was some underlying mechanism skewing the true outcomes toward "bad", it could not possibly be as extreme as the alarmists from the IPCC to this site and everywhere in between claim... and one can easily show to an adequate statistical significance that they are biassed. 

    How could bias creep in? Well, the individual negative outcomes are often fabrications (do you have time to check them all? There are thousands!). They are cherry-picked in type, methodology and location. You can see this by taking one and asking "how many other kinds of scenarios could be looked at, that differ in some way from this case?". And you will usually find *those* outcomes are far less "bad". Many, maybe 50%, will be "good". So naturally you wonder how the one that was published (and included in alarming lists on the internet) was chosen.

    What *true* underlying skew might there be? Well, the most obvious one is that more human beings are harmed by cold then by warm, and that more of the world becomes fertile when it is warm. Beyond that, the question rapidly bifurcates into less and less generally applicable effects, operating in both "good" and "bad" directions, with no "force majeure" to make them skew in either direction.

    So by the (very few) arguments that are sufficiently general to produce an overall skew, warming is a net "good". The remainder of arguments should be randomly distrinuted, or at least close to that. So people who claim they are mostly bad (or mostly good) are biassed (we can be confident of that).

    Of course, there are other moral positions. An actor changes something, another actor suffers as a result even though many actors benefit. What's your position on that? Well, in the case of global warming, it isn't even clear who is the actor making the change. Is it the humams who emitted CO2? OR the other humans trying to stop the first humans? Because both groups' actions will hurt *somebody*. 

  22. A.R.S.Says @ #371 :

    The question here of "good" or "bad" [regarding Global Warming effects] is very straightforward, really! It is viewed from the point of view of the human race (and which largely co-incides with the beneficial aspect to terrestrial & marine lifeforms).

    Worse heatwaves, droughts, floods, and rising sea levels encroaching on land which is heavily settled and/or fertile agricultural. In addition, agricultural scientists point to an overall reduction of staple food production (worsening with each degree of warming).

    Please read and educate yourself, in the appropriate section of this website.

    (btw, I must commend your sense of humour in choice of your nom-de-plume ~ the abbreviation is priceless.)


    [JH] Inflamatory & off-topic.

  23. Winter deaths will decline as temperatures warm (HPA 2007)

    may need an update partly because the link no longer works. You might want to use refs 4 through 8 from

    and you may want to note that the above link disputes this for England and Wales.

  24. Eclectic @ #372: It is viewed from the point of view of the human race...

    Yes, that is the easy part.  Rising sea levels are clearly bad.  Worse heatwaves, droughts and floods are clearly bad.  The hard part is knowing whether the effects will be good or bad, and if bad, what is the cost of adaptation compared to giving up fossil fuels.

    We have to look at the effects one-by-one:

    1) Sea level rise.  Clearly bad, but we have a few decades to adapt.  Do not rebuild in the flood zones of New Orleans.  Do some careful planning on the costs of relocating Miami, lower Manhattan, etc.

    2) Average temperature rise.  We have a few decades for a migration to cooler areas.

    3) Shifting climate patterns.  This seems like the biggest worry, because it can happen rapidly, and rapid change can be costly.

    I think we make a mistake by assuming all shifts will be in a bad direction.  I live in the Southeast part of Arizona, and the hot summers here have been getting milder on the eastern edge of the Sonoran Desert.  Over a larger area (California and Arizona) the drought is getting worse.  A few more years, and the Tucson area could be cut off from its life supply, water from the Colorado River.  That would be an economic disaster, and it could happen in just a few years.  The resulting collapse in the real estate market could happen instantly.

  25. I come on this forum as not a skeptic about climate change nor do I deny that we have some impact. However, as a scientist myself I am very skeptical that it is magically reversible or reversible to the degree some say it would be

    One of my issues with the whole hostile shouting down of skeptics, is that I have still to find a single man made climate change believer, who is balanced enough in their argument to give a single positve about climate change, i.e. apparantly it is all 100% bad!!

    This is simply not possible and I suspect is indicative of an agenda that can't allow any good to be admitted, for fear of undermining the argument

    Logically, that can only be because the climate change want everyone to think that "we're doomed" unless we agree with them  - which is a poor way to have a debate


    [JH] Blatant sloganeering snipped. 

    [TD] Click the Intermediate tab of this post to see a list of positives and negatives. Then read the Advanced tabbed pane. If you want more resources, inquire politely here.

  26. Banbrotam @375 , you seem to be applying selective vision to the situation.

    First, you should clarify to readers (and to yourself) how much precisely of present-day rapid global warming is caused by human activity.  If you hold that rather less than 50% of warming is anthropogenic, then you might well have a point that it would be a struggle to halt or reverse the global warming process.  However, the facts are against you there — in actuality, the human causation is very close to 100% (as you will discover if you educate yourself about the issue).  And therefore your denial of reversibility carries no weight.

    Secondly, what are the "positives" of climate change (i.e. global warming) that you would wish to mention?  Sure, you can point to some small areas, such as southern Patagonia and northern Russia, which would (from a human perspective) benefit from a few degrees of global warming.  But — taken as a whole, the planet would be 95+% worse off.  Especially for the human race in total, and also for most marine life [re temperature for the coral reef systems, and re acidification for much of the rest of the marine biosystem].

    If you stop and think it through, Banbrotam, it will occur to you that the present-day plants and animals have evolved to suit the world temperatures (typified by the climate of approx 100 years ago) of the Holocene period.  And so you would expect major disruption from very rapid rise in global surface temperature — and so you would be hard-put to find any definite "positives" arising from AGW.  And so you would not be surprised that such "positives" [should they exist] are rarely mentioned in discussions.

    Remember too, that the present large size of world human population is already pushing the limits of sustainabilty.  Any small advantages to AGW (e.g. in northern Russia) are enormously outweighed by more general disadvantages — and particularly so in the Tropics.

    Banbrotam, the only real debate that remains, is how to expeditiously tackle climate change.  A scientist (for instance: yourself) will of course realise that denial of reality is not "debate" but is simply slogan shouting [which here on SkS is named sloganeering].

  27. Additional reference:

    This is a mixed group of scientists trying to figure out the impact of climate change on Alberta.  As part of this, they have constructured sets of maps corresponding to cool, medium and hot scenarios and have plotted changes in rainfall (not much different), temperature (scary difference, and ecozone shifts (really scarry difference) for the 2050's and 2080's.  Note that each of these maps you can choose between the cool, medium and hot scenarios.  The third link is with the hot scenario shows southern Alberta's  desert regions (much like central Montana or Wyoming) will in places be up to the northern border.  

    I live an hour from Edmonton, pretty much in the center of the province.  We're looking at a 6 C temperature rise in the next 70 years.

    Mean Annual Precipitation


    Mean Annual Temperature


    Natural ecological zones

  28. Hi everyone, I agree with commenter no 27: I too am puzzled there's no mention of Daniel Bailey's article about ice ages. His argument is that global warming has protected us from any risk of a new ice age. I would have thought that his point should be the first item on your list of pros and cons as an ice age would be cataclysmic and it makes the cons you mention seem insignificant. Surely averting an ice age is such a great achievement that any pros and cons list should come out heavily in favour of global warming?

    David A

  29. David @378 , your argument carries zero weight — for the simple reason that there is no ice age imminent.

    The timing of the next glacial (the one that would have occurred, without human presence) has been discussed elsewhere on SkepticalScience.  The coming of the next glacial age, may be considerably more than the few thousand years away which casual observation [of history] would suggest.  An unusually low amount of orbital ellipticity (i.e. a more circular orbit) over the coming dozens of millennia . . . points to a greatly delayed "next" glaciation — delayed by tens of thousands of years, perhaps.

    David, balanced against all the multiple major problems occurring now and increasingly during the next century or three, from AGW . . . an ice age that might come in 2,000+ years (or more likely 20,000+ years) is a non-event in current considerations.

    And if such prediction of the zero threat of "imminent next ice age" should happen to prove wrong . . . then the history of the 20th Century demonstrates that we could easily scotch the ice, by 30 years of intensive coal-burning.  Easy fix !!

    David, in the current situation, there is zero benefit to warming, as a "preventative".

  30. Thanks for the response Ec! I'm no expert, so I'm just going by what it says in other articles on this site that conclude there is a chance that global warming has prevented an imminent ice age. I would align myself more to the views made in the articles on this site, I think anyone emphasising a 'zero' scientific probability is not thinking with proper scientific scepticism. I agree with you that the correct preventative measure is man-made global warming though.


    [JH] You are merely cherry-pickking to support your pre-determined conclusion. This tactic impresses virtually no one. In addition, you are skating on the thin ice of excessive repetition which is prohibited by the SkS Comments Policy.

    Please note that posting comments here at SkS is a privilege, not a right.  This privilege can be rescinded if the posting individual treats adherence to the Comments Policy as optional, rather than the mandatory condition of participating in this online forum.

    Please take the time to review the policy and ensure future comments are in full compliance with it.  Thanks for your understanding and compliance in this matter.

  31. Agreed, David — should any "ultra-low probability" harmful global cooling happen to rear its head in the year 4000 AD or later . . . then we can easily use Plan B , which is the digging up & burning of 50 Gigatons of coal (we know it's easy, because we've already done that very thing several times over, during the past 100 years !   Easy-peasy !

    However, right now and for the next couple of centuries, the only intelligent thing we can do — is use Plan A , which is the quick-as-we-can elimination of fossil fuels.  Not quite such an easy achievement, but well within our capabilities over the next 5 decades.

  32. "there's no mention of Daniel Bailey's article about ice ages"

    Out of curiosity, what is this supposed article that I wrote?  While I've written a variety of articles published in this and other venues, I don't recall writing one on that topic.

    Link citations are best.

  33. Thank you for posting!!

    Normally, everything has two sides, positive and negative ways. For global warming, seem the negative ways are more than the positive one. The positive is affect only some area but the negative affect all, direct and indirect ways to human's health. In my opinion, CO2 didn't make sense much on agriculture in a positive way. More CO2 didn't say that more O2 plants could produce. While we have global warming, that means many trees had been cutting down. No helper to absorb CO2 as much as the past. So in agriculture, few trees cannot take all CO2 to change to O2. CO2 also causes many glaciers melted that made the fresh water mixed with an ocean. Decrease the water supply that is the factor for human's life. In conclusion, I think global warming didn't make our world be good.

  34. Normally, everything has two sides, positive and negative ways. For global warming, seem the negative ways are more than the positive one. The positive is affect only some area but the negative affect all, direct and indirect ways to human's health. In my opinion, CO2 didn't make sense much on agriculture in a positive way. More CO2 didn't say that more O2 plants could produce. While we have global warming, that means many trees had been cutting down. No helper to absorb CO2 as much as the past. So in agriculture, few trees cannot take all CO2 to change to O2. CO2 also causes many glaciers melted that made the fresh water mixed with an ocean. Decrease the water supply that is the factor in human's life. In conclusion, I think global warming didn't make our world be good.

    I have a question. What would the world be in 100 years if we still release CO2?

  35.          First, my interest in agriculture is that, Increased warming may also have a greater effect on countries whose climate is already near or at a temperature limit over which yields reduce or crops fail. Second, Health, warmer climes will encourage migration of disease-bearing insects like mosquitoes. Third, Polar melting, the warming waters increase glacier and Greenland ice cap melt, as well as raising the temperature of Arctic tundra, which then releases methane, a very potent greenhouse gas (methane is also released from the sea-bed, where it is trapped in ice-crystals called clathrates). Next, positive effects of climate change may include greener rainforests and enhanced plant growth in the Amazon, increased vegetation in northern latitudes and possible increases in plankton biomass in some parts of the ocean. Negative responses may include further growth of oxygen poor ocean zones, contamination or exhaustion of fresh water, increased incidence of natural fires, extensive vegetation die-off due to droughts, increased risk of coral extinction, decline in global phytoplankton, changes in migration patterns of birds and animals, changes in seasonal periodicity, disruption to food chains and species loss.

  36. Hello, not sure if a comment is the correct way to inform you about broken links, but I did not find another way to contact an author.
    Please feel free to delete this comment, once the link was restored.

    So which link is broken?

    I was just reading the intermediate version of "positives and negatives of global warming" I think this is the direct link:

    Under "Sea Level Rise" there is a link to "Dasgupta 2009" which leads to a "server not found" page, this is the LINK.

    I think either of these links might be better:


  37. It seems that  one negative of the Artic melt is missing. 

    The amount of fresh water released by the Artic melt is diluting the Gulf Stream and has started to impede its  normal circulation 

    This will bring intense cold to Europe as warm water will not reach the continent in winter

  38. Almost any scientist looking at a new idea views it with deep skepticism and doubts it, and that skepticism is only overcome by a consistent preponderance of the evidence that keeps supporting the idea that that might be important - that global climate change driven by humans might actually be occurring. As that evidence has been accumulated, skeptic after skeptic among the scientists has decided, "Well, I'd better pay more attention to this." The physics of this is much more well understood. The models that incorporate all of our known aspects of physics and atmospheric chemistry and climatology and so on, all predict that what we're doing is going to lead to climate change. All these bits of evidence keep falling into place. They all keep saying, "Gee, we'd better pay more attention to this global climate change idea," because when we look at some data that maybe would have rejected it, it doesn't. It supports that idea. I guess what I would say is that the idea is so real now. There have been so many attempts to test it, so many attempts to reject the idea that we might be causing climate change which has not been successful, which keep supporting that hypothesis. I think it is now incumbent upon us to take it seriously and to do things to help slow the rate of climate change and hopefully stop it. If we find out in the long-term that climate change is not going to happen, we won't have done much to harm ourselves. But if we don't act now, we could have a runaway climate change that could basically greatly decrease the livability of the earth. The science is now solid enough that any reasonable person examining the scientific evidence would decide, "We have to pay attention to it. It's time to have some action."

  39. You could add a link to this one -

    An economist's takedown of an economist's view of climate.  Highly recommend. 


    [BL] Link activated.

    The web software here does not automatically create links. You can do this when posting a comment by selecting the "insert" tab, selecting the text you want to use for the link, and clicking on the icon that looks like a chain link. Add the URL in the dialog box.

  40. Hi Skeptical Science Team,

    I am not trying to come across as a pessimist, in fact I am very jolly happy optimist. (it’s my nature).

    However, looking around at all the attitudes that lack an understanding of how urgent our climate situation is, and the fact that not much has been done to ween the globe from fossil fuel burning, I can’t help but to think we are past the point of being able to curb the future disasters that are coming our way due to climate change. Those disasters are here and now already.

    We are now living on a planet that is in the beginning stages of driving humans, as well as other animal species towards extinction. We’ve already caused extensive death and destruction. Over 50 percent of the world's coral reefs have died in the last 30 years and up to 90 percent may die within the next century. The rate of normal background extinction is hundreds, or even thousands of times higher than the natural baseline rate.

    Also, since CO2 lingers around in the atmosphere for 1000’s of years and we are continuing to pump ~50 Billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents a year into the atmosphere, how on earth are we going to prevent the creation of a runaway greenhouse effect?

    Am I alone in thinking we’ve reached a point of no return?

  41. TVC15 @390 :-

    Permit me some general waffle : my comment is that you should be half'n'half  ~ half optimist, half pessimist.   The global situation is going to get bad but not catastrophic.  Yes, we are going to blow straight past the 1.5 degree mark in global surface temperature rise since pre-industrial.  The rise already (over 170 years) is about 1.1 degrees, and this makes a mockery of any contrarian who opines that the CO2-doubling Climate Sensitivity is less than roughly 2.0 degrees (and seems most likely to be in the 2.5 to 3.0 degree range at equilibrium ~ which also fits with non-historic data e.g. the paleo data).

    With extraordinarily good management, we might conceivably halt the rise by 2.0 degrees . . . but our political track record so far is poor.

    It is not just the politics, but technological advances which are still required.   Sure : cheaper solar & wind technologies are coming, but we really should have started seriously developing these at least 10 years before we actually did.  (But the past cannot be changed.)

    The 2050 date for "carbon neutral" will require more than the present-day solar & wind, even at half of today's prices.   Energy storage is absolutely necessary ~ and I am looking to bulk storage of electrolytic hydrogen.  Hydrogen to provide electricity via fuel cells (at small scale) or steam-driven turbines at large scale (possibly combined-cycle?).

    The second leg to stand on, is a hugely-increased supply of liquid hydrocarbon [octane / kerosene / diesel types] produced from non-fossil feedstocks, by means of catalytic / enzymatic / fermentational technology.  In brief, we need to produce these hydrocarbons at a scale little short of present-day fossil fuel consumption.  For a great amount of our energy usage, these hydrocarbons are necessary ~ and I suspect it will take many decades after 2050 , before we could replace such hydrocarbon fuels.

    Extinction of a very large slice of animal/plant species . . . is arguable.  Extinction of the human race ~ certainly impossible.  The casualty rate may be high in the future ~ but extinction, no way.   Mass migration of "climate refugees" will increase as sea level rise and heat waves occur, and there will be major social disruption.   "Interesting Times" , as the old Chinese saying goes.

  42. I'm sort of where Eclectic is, too.

    There is an old saying: an optimist believes that we live in the best of all possible worlds; a pessimist fears that this is true.

    Even if we can't stop the car before it hits the wall, slowing it down helps. And in the case of climate change, trying to stop at 1.5 or 2C but failing will still help us avoid 3 or 4 later on. And even if we fail to stop the bad consequences, knowing what they are going to be helps us prepare for them.

    Anyone that thinks "it can't possibly get worse" is fooling themselves - there is always some creative genius out there who can find a way to make it worse.

  43. While I wish stronger actions were being taken now, it is way better than it was ten years ago.  I remember thnking "how can we get people to build out wind and solar when they are 5 times more expensive than fossil fuels?"  Now renewable energy is the cheapest so they are building out renewables in Texas!!  No greenies behind those wind turbines and solar farms, they are building them because it is cheapest.  

    Carbon Brief reports many coal plants planned 5-10 years ago that were not built yet are being cancelled.  That is not because they are worried about climate change, it is because renewables are cheaper.

    I am worried about the future, but it looks way better to me than it did 10 years ago.

  44. @393


    That's a very good point. I recently heard a denialist argument talking about how the models were wrong. The interesting thing about his argument was he used the "worst case do nothing" projection and then tried to claim, "See? The models were exagerated!" 

    Ironically the reason we are no longer on that old worst case scenario projection is because actions were taken! When the proper scenanio was selected and projected, the models proved to be almost uncannily accurate!

    "it's not that bad." only because we are making the changes needed. Maybe not enough. But we are moving in that direction!

    Potholer put out a great video about that 3 years ago! Projections still look bleak. We can do much more. But it is not as bad as it could have been.

  45. Red Baron @394 ,

    There's no hope for direct persuasion of the sort of denialist who comes out with the kind of "Models are All Wrong"  argument that you mention.  The deniosphere is full of that deliberate mental blindness.

    But things are hopeful in other directions.  Denialists are in some alarm about the current European Union moves to establish (more extensively) what is in effect a Carbon Tax on imports.  This must cast a shadow into the future ~ a shadow influencing the investment choices of financiers & large corporations, and tilting their future decisions away from coal etc.

    And in the USA, the new Biden Administration - however temporary it may be - must be having a chilling effect on the commercial advocates of future fossil-fuel developments.

    Red Baron, your own interest in carbon-fixing (in the soil) does also add the possibility of lowering CO2, by a small but ultimately significant amount.  We shall see !

    And for the persuadable Middle Americans  who like to drive "gas-guzzling pick-up trucks" , it seems the Ford F150 Lightning (due 2022) will have both the traditional looks & the carrying/hauling capabilities they fancy.  An all-battery truck, with adequate range and muscular performance ~ quite a breath-taking acceleration, in fact.   Forget the wimpy Prius and nerdy Tesla cars, because this "truck" will soften the gasoline addiction of even the average red-blooded right-winger.

  46. I have a friend who likes muscle cars and owns a high power Mustang.  I saw an ad for an electric car that beat a bunch of muscle cars off the line in a drag race.  I asked my friend and he said the electric car would beat his car for 1/8 of a mile (by a lot) but that after they got up to 100 mph his car had better acceleration and would win the 1/4 mile.  I guess if you want to go 150 on the street (this friend does) you need a more powerfull electric car. 

  47. Michael Sweet ~ LOL, in a Mustang maybe : but I wouldn't like to drive the average country road at 150mph in a pick-up truck.  The Ford F150 is heavy, but has 4WD electric motors of total 420 horsepower (in lower spec.!!)  Not too shabby.  The battery has a 9 Kw outlet for portable power tools, or for powering your house during a blackout.  Due late 2022, so not far away.

    My point is, that many Americans will find this type of electric vehicle attractive.  And this will shed a halo glow onto other "electric stuff" . . . and, I hope . . . soften some of the pro-fossil attitudes, and this will spill over into the more political arena.

  48. Eclectic:

    We agree.  At one time people complained that gas cars would never replace horses.  Once electric cars are established and charging stations are built everywhere everyone will accept them.  Then in the future people will wonder why we put up with the air pollution killing so many people for so long.

  49. TVC15 @351,
    To throw in my own ten pen'orth.

    If anyone says “those disasters are here and now already,” it's a bit of an end to the discussion. I think your intended message is that the "disasters" are starting to happen. But as the analogy set out by Bob Loblaw @353 runs "if we can't stop the car before it hits the wall, slowing it down helps." So we are seeing disasters. We are in the process of hitting the wall. It is a very slow process. Things will get a lot worse before we come to a stop. But as we crash into the wall, it will help greatly if we take our foot off the accelerator and slam harder onto the brake.

    As for where we will end up, as Eclectic @352 says, the idea that humanity could drive itself to extinction through AGW is not on the cards.

    If we fail to wean ourselves off FF where will we be? As michael sweet @354 suggests we are seemingly weaning ourselves off coal. That is significant. The +4ºC-and-higher 'outcomes' turn to +3ºC 'outcomes' (and higher) if we stop burning coal. I add the 'and higher' as +3ºC 'outcomes' also greatly increase the uncertainty relative to +2ºC 'outcomes'. Yet even +2ºC 'outcomes' will have bad consequences such as the melt-down of Greenland if we stay at +2ºC for too long. So we shouldn't lose the limit of +1.5ºC if we don't want 7m SLR in the next millennia or so.

    And if we fail to buck up our game, still buried within the +3ºC (and higher) is the potential for our nation states to start tussling over real estate and resources and 'devil take the hindmost', thus the breakdown of the civilised world order. How bad a breakdown? There are 193 nation states in the world. So pick a number between 193 and zero.

    In terms of climate, I don't think we have reached a point where we cannot with tomorrow's technologies reverse the climate forcings that is causing AGW. But that doesn't mean we reverse all the consequences. If we reverse the climate forcings there will already be irreversable events, certainly within the biosphere. There are thus many 'points of no return' we are creating but the idea of a 'runaway GH-effect' that would turn us into a carbon-copy of Venus; that is not going to happen.

  50. The Basic Edition of this rebuttal says "deaths attributable to heatwaves are expected to be approximately five times as great as winter deaths prevented" (and oddly, only the Basic version says this).

    What is the source of this claim?

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