Common Fallacies: Costs And Benefits

Presumed Benefits of Climate Change

Fallacy:

Plants will grow more.

Typically the individual will argue to the effect that "carbon dioxide fertilizes the plants."

Basic Response:

There is a kernal of truth to this: all things being equal, it is true that increased carbon dioxide will tend to cause many plants to grow more quickly. However, not all things will be equal. As the level of carbon dioxides rises, it will tend to result in numerous negative effects on plants which will tend to outweigh any of the benefits.

Additional Points:

  1. Heat Stress Local plants will tend to do more poorly with increased temperatures.
  2. Drought Increased levels of carbon dioxide will lead to higher temperatures and thus higher rates of evaporation, tending to result in rain falling over the ocean from which it evaporates.
  3. Torrential Rain When it actually does rain over land, it will tend to be heavier and more often torrential rain - which isn't particularly helpful to the plants and will tend to carry away top soil.
  4. Soil Drying Out More Quickly Higher temperatures will result in greater rates of evaporation of moisture from the soil, causing the soil to lose moisture more rapidly. This may also result in the loss of top soil - when it gets carried away as dust in the wind.
  5. Glacier Loss Glaciers often feed large rivers. When the glaciers are gone, the rivers will dry up. What precipitation falls where the glaciers used to be will tend to be far less dependable, more seasonal, and more likely to result in flooding followed by the rivers drying out.

Fallacy:

Higher latitudes will benefit.

Some people will argue that colder places will benefit from higher temperatures.

Basic Response:

Not as many or for as long as you might think.

Additional Points:

  1. Melting permafrost isn't great for growing crops. The chemistry of the soil is often poor, and anything which is growing in it will tend to lack the needed support after a while.
  2. Many buildings will sag. If you are talking about arctic tundra, the buildings were built with the assumption that the land would remain frozen. As the tundra melts, particularly near the coastlines, the buildings will tend to lean. This is already happening in many places.
  3. Shores will give way. People build near the coasts, even in the arctic, and as tundra melts in both the arctic and subarctic regions, waves will erode the coastlines. This is already happening in many places.
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