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Mankind would not benefit greatly from Global Warming | 354 comments | Create New Account
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Mankind would not benefit greatly from Global Warming
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 26 2012 @ 04:27 AM EST
A rise in temperature would shift all agricultural zones polewards. There is less light and less land area poleward.

And less of that land has fertile soil. Much of northern Canada, Scandinavia, and Russia is either bare rock, or else bedrock with a very thin skin of soil over it. Spruce trees can survive on such limited soil, but food crops cannot (farming was attempted, and failed). Much of the far north of Canada (north of the tree line) is barren rocky desert (the area is also known as "the barren lands", or "the barren grounds").

I am less familiar with Russia, but in Canada and Scandinavia, the northern limit of agriculture is determined by the underlying geology, not by temperature. If you overlay geological and agricultural maps of Canada you will see that they match very closely. While some small amount of fertile land may become arable, any significant agricultural gains in Canada (for example), would need to come from increased yields on existing land, not from any mythical "new lands".

Counterbalancing a lengthened growing season would be less water. The prairie regions of Canada (the western interior provinces) are comparatively dry. For agriculture they depend heavily on winter precipitation stored as snow which melts in the spring to provide moisture in the soil. If the climate was warmer, much of this precipitation would either fall as rain, or else melt over the winter in a series of thaws. This precipitation would then not be available in the spring to grow crops. To this, add the increased evaporation caused by higher summer temperatures. The net result of higher temperatures could be less food, not more. The more optimistic predictions are that increased crop yields on some lands will offset the loss of farmland caused by drought in drier regions. The more pessimistic views are that agriculture will suffer a net loss.

Scandinavia would probably be less prone to becoming drier, and so agriculture there on existing land may benefit from the longer growing season. However, it has so little arable soil that this would have no significance on a global scale.

Russia seems to have become prone to extreme summer heat and drought and extreme winter cold in recent years. This is probably due to the size of the Asian continent which would amplify seasonal effects. The central Asian deserts would expand in a warmer world. It would not be realistic to depend on increased food production from Russia.

In short, anyone who is looking for a warmer climate to increase food production in the north is delusional. Statements that arctic countries would "benefit" from a warmer climate are generally based on hopes that a longer arctic shipping season would make oil, gas, and mining in coastal regions there more economical. However, those industries are already suffering in the interior regions as shorter winters are making trucking over ice roads impossible or uneconomic in some areas. The people who actually live in the north see "global warming" as something that is already having a net negative effect on their lives.

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

Mankind would not benefit greatly from Global Warming
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 26 2012 @ 12:37 PM EST
"A rise in temperature would shift all agricultural zones polewards."

I do not think it works like that. Tropical areas today grow their own food
just fine. The tropics will NOT become furnace wastelands. A warmer earth
really means that there is less north-south temperature gradient.

My favorite place to waste time at work is
"Life Through Deep Time" It covers climate change, continents moving,
CO2 changes, mass extinctions.

Earth has been warmer, colder, wetter, drier.


Bondfire "if the earth doesn't get us, the humans will"

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

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