- Politics and Social Issues»
- Environment & Green Issues
Milder Winters and Climate change
Milder winters are good for country's economy
A relatively mild winter of 2011-2012 apparently gave a slight “bump” to the US economy. Unemployment figures and the various indices for the economy were not as bad as predicted, thanks to a warmer than usual winter. Warmer weather meant increased construction activity, lower heating costs and reduced weather-related shutdowns and flight cancellations. On the negative side, ski resorts and winter sports industries did suffer. But apparently, not too many Americans complained that it was not cold enough! This might make one wonder whether a slight warming up would actually do more good than harm to our economy.
Before drawing any conclusions, we need to be aware that while the “modern” human race (with a developed brain) evolved between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago, it was only when the last Ice Age (Pleistocene-Quaternary) started to recede about 15,000 years ago, that our real development commenced. There has been no evidence of sustained development while the Ice Age was at its peak. But it quickly hastened towards the end of Ice Age, starting with commencement of agriculture about 13,000 years ago. As the Earth started to warm and the Ice Age receded, human development rapidly progressed, and has not looked back since.
Today, we live in an age where our Earth is warming up faster than it should and climate is changing rapidly with possible dire consequences. We all need to make changes in our lifestyles to reverse this trend and reduce the discharge of carbon emissions into the Earth’s atmosphere. North America may have experienced a mild winter, but some other regions in Europe and Asia experienced a very cold winter season. However, can one deny the fact that a vast majority of humans are more comfortable with milder winters? Now there are some regions where humans (and flora and fauna) have evolved to live under frigid conditions. But their numbers are very small in comparison. At the same time, history tells us about the human toll during the Little Ice Age in the 15th and 16th century, when large populations in Europe, but more particularly the Norse colonies (the Vikings) in Greenland, starved and vanished because of the cold weather. Would anyone wish that the Earth’s weather returned to the conditions that existed five hundred years ago, if it were in our control?
A far better scenario would be where we continue our efforts to curb global warming and are able to limit the rise in average temperature to one or two degrees. In such an event, several regions in the world would escape the harsh cold winters, and instead be blessed with milder winters. The quality of life in such regions would improve, there would be substantial increases in industrial and agricultural output - and surely there would be a boost to the economy.
Now there are some scientists who take the view that more than once during our Earth’s existence, we have gone through periods with higher temperatures when all the ice had melted and wild life and plants were in vast abundance. Thus in their opinion, life on this Earth can survive in much warmer conditions.
This could well be an extreme point of view. But there would surely be many amongst us who would love to be spared those awful snowstorms and days of piled up snow, when all activity virtually comes to a standstill. They would also probably be willing to trade for days of mild comfortable winter weather, even if it meant that they needed to drive to work every day in winter!