The scientific findings of the human influence on the climate system have been, and perhaps will always be, a mixed bag. Assuming strong positive feedback effects, and thus a high climate sensitivity, it certainly can be argued that the bad outweighs the good. But if feedback effects are more neutral, the sign of the externality flips from negative to positive given that, on net, a moderately warmer, wetter, and CO2-fertilized world is quite arguably a better one.
Earth Day 2012 yesterday brought forth predictable cries of doom-and-gloom. But there are plenty of positives on closer inspection on the climate front, developments which have undoubtedly spilled over into making the earth a better place for humanity at large.
Here is my Top 10 list of positive climate developments based on the recent empirical data and the latest scientific literature:
10) The growing season across the Northern Hemisphere is expanding;
7) … and contributing to an increasing global output of food products;
6) The combination of the above is leading to a true “greening” of the environment;
5) Global tropical cyclone activity has been declining over the past 20 years and is now near its 40-yr low;
4) The rate of sea level rise has slowed during the past decade;
3) The rate of global temperature rise has remained moderate and likely below the central value of climate model projections for the past 30 years;
2) Evidence continues to mount against high climate sensitivity values.
And, the NUMBER 1 positive climate development for Earth Day 2012,
1) Together, these beneficial trends, along with enhancement of our energy and other technologies, has the net result of increasing public health and welfare. For example across the globe, the life expectancy at birth is the longest it has ever been, and continues to climb upwards.
What great reasons to celebrate (Resourceful) Earth Day 2012!