Don’t get hysterical about global warming
As a climate researcher and a professor emeritus of oceanography, I like to offer my personal cynical views of global warming. I think it is time to take a realistic look at the effects of global warming.
An increase of global temperatures would really not be so bad, and we would get used to it. In historical times the warm periods have always been the times when civilizations and nature were flourishing, not the cold periods or the ice ages. In 100 years our offspring will be used to a warmer world, and we will no longer be there.
But there are lots of people who think that one has to fight global warming and they want to reduce the output of carbon dioxide. If we do little, reducing CO2 by say 5 to 10 percent, there will be no noticeable effect on temperatures. Wind mills, solar panels and ocean thermal energy will just not be enough. If we are willing to do more, reduce CO2 by 20 to 30 percent, our industry and our economy will be crippled or will simply collapse. Are you really willing to give up your car, your refrigerator and your air conditioner and reduce your standard of living? No nation in this world will do that, it would be economic suicide.
The second effect of global warming, the slow melting of the ice caps, is usually considered to be of more severe consequence, but it is worth taking a closer look. Sea level is estimated to rise by 1 or 2 feet in the next hundred years, but 100 years is a long time. A hundred years ago there were no interstate highways, no airlines, no subways and almost no high-rises. All this was built during the last 100 years, and we will have to replace most of the buildings in the flooded areas in the next hundred years anyway. All the million-dollar beachfront houses will just be re-built elsewhere, as sad as it is for the kids who will inherit them.
What a hysteria about global warming. Reasonable people must admit that as long as we rely on oil and coal for our energy demand, there will be no end to global warming. Once we change to nuclear energy there is some hope. Ethanol is just a big illusion: we feed ethanol to our cars, so that the price of wheat, beef, chicken and eggs increases and the poor of this world are starving.
The damage to our world from the increase in its population, which will double in the next 100 years, will be much larger than any possible effect of global warming. The ever-rising population will simply trample the environment to death and will result in more energy consumption. The lack of space for the additional billions will cause water shortages, food shortages, civil unrest and eventually wars.
Global warming will be a minor calamity compared to the consequences of the population explosion. In the end, it is the population explosion that has caused global warming because of the energy demands of an increasing population.
Klaus Wyrtki is a professor emeritus of oceanography at the University of Hawaii.