Climate Skeptic Part 3: Is Climate Change Really That Bad?
Part 3 of 7 – Continued From Part 2
Authors: Amber Bieg, Deb LaSalle, Zach Bell, Heather Colwell, Kevin Winslow, Jay Schuyler, Alaina Sisco, Mitch Samson
Is Climate Change Really That Bad?
Some believe climate change may, in fact, be a good thing and bring positive effects for the Earth and its inhabitants. For example, it’s highly likely that species such as the polar bear may go extinct. However, this has happened throughout recorded history, and there’s nothing mankind can do about it at this point. On the positive side, climate change may result in a decreased human mortality rate due to less-frequent cold spells. The negative side of that argument would be, of course, that rising temperatures will result in higher mortality for those caught in prolonged, increased, and more severe heat waves. Additionally, there is no limit to how extreme the changes will get. Humans may be challenged to adapt at a pace they simply cannot keep up with. We’re already seeing this with mass migrations of people from fire-prone communities to cooler rural areas that are not set up for growth.
This leads us to what’s known as the First Law of Ecology. In essence, this law argues that everything is connected to everything else, especially with respect to ecosystems that are incredibly complex and interconnected. “The system is stabilized by its dynamic self-compensating properties; these same properties, if overstressed, can lead to a dramatic collapse.” Essentially, certain species or habitats serve as our proverbial “canaries in the coal mine” alerting us to danger ahead.
From a business standpoint, rising world temperatures will bring about drastic changes, some of which may be advantageous. The shipping industry, for example, could actually benefit from the rapid melting of Arctic sea ice, as this would result in the opening of the Northwest Passage for longer periods throughout the year. Additionally, climate change could benefit agriculture as rising temperatures bring on an earlier spring and longer summers. This scenario creates a larger window for growing crops, especially for drought-tolerant species.
However, weeds and invasive species (as well as insects and other pests) would also thrive in a warmer climate. A warmer world also means less water for drier areas that depend on irrigation — including here in Idaho. The lifeblood of seed potato farming in southeastern Idaho depends upon spring flows. If snowpacks relinquish to winter rains, little water remains for summer crops. Potatoes are sensitive to drought, and frequent drought episodes can threaten sustainable production.
According to the 2021 IPCC report, which comprises research from hundreds of scientists around the world, the North Mountain West region will experience extreme seasonal drought (with extreme heat and wildfires in the summer) as well as heavy precipitation days, leading to extreme flooding in the winters. The report projects that a tripling (or more) of these events is possible by mid-century (IPCC, ch 12, pg 91).
While some species and groups may survive, the costs to families, corporations, and small businesses are potentially catastrophic. The increase in weather variance and the frequency of natural disasters easily become economically disastrous. It’s estimated that “extreme [weather] events that previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century.”
Economic forecasts do not bode well for societies; a number of social scientists predict that within the next century humanity could face economic and governmental collapse. While humans may survive, our interdependent communities won’t thrive amidst rapid successions of disruptive economic and environmentally challenging environments. Climate migration resulting in masses of people fleeing for survival typically results in excess demand on limited supply and added human suffering.
 Commoner, B. The Closing Circle, pp. 29-42. 1971
 The National Center for Biotechnology. Coping with drought: stress and adaptive responses in potato and perspectives for improvement. July 22, 2015
 United Nations. UN News. IPCC report: ‘Code red’ for human driven global heating, warns UN chief. Aug 9, 2021