Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Environmental Benefits of Warmer Weather

           The Eastern United States has been experiencing a milder meteorological winter than usual, with many record-breaking higher highs and lows.  Ever-fluctuating global temperatures, which had risen to some degree the previous few decades for a variety of reasons that are not all fully understood, have been stable for nearly two decades. 

Therefore, with temperatures having reached a plateau, only a slight increase from the twenty-year mean is likely to produce broken records, as records have only been kept since the late Nineteenth Century, at most, which is an insignificant length of geologic time. 

            Regardless, the warmer weather has demonstrated how higher temperatures benefit the environment, as warming necessitates less energy usage for heating.  Because of lower demand for energy, less drilling or mining for fossil fuels is necessary, which, in turn, saves more energy and also causes less environmental contamination or disruption, and less energy is required to refine or transport fuel.  What is even more significant is the decreased burning of fossil fuels, which, in turn, leads to less production of so-called “greenhouse gases” that are theorized to be responsible for global warming, such as carbon dioxide, thereby creating a positive feedback loop.  In addition, with rain instead of snowfall, less environmentally-damaging salt is put on roads.  

           At times in geologic history, the earth’s climate swings have been dramatic, as the planet has been either mostly glaciated or almost not glaciated at all, with tropical climates even in the arctic.  The earth is currently in another relative interglacial period of its most current Ice Age.  It is reasonable to expect at some point over the next tens of thousands of years yet another disastrous period of extreme glaciation, in which case some off-setting global warming would be welcome.  

           Indeed, modest global warming would be beneficial for life, as sea-life would flourish over a larger area and although there would be even less land, much of the remaining land would be more vegetated and inhabitable by wildlife and more arable than it is currently.

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