5 Things Benefiting From Global Warming

Climate change isn’t all bad; it just depends on your perspective! If you’re a mountain, a jellyfish, or some of the other things on this list, your future may be pretty bright.


The town of Qaqortoq (Julianehåb), Greenland by Jens Buurgaard Nielsen [wikipedia]

In “The Princess Bride,” the evil genius scolds his henchman by saying, “Do you want me to send you back where you were? Unemployed … in Greenland?”

That threat might have carried some weight in the movie, but in real life, Greenland’s prospects are looking up. Its massive ice sheet is rapidly thawing, which means more and more arable land is surfacing all across the island. Industrious residents have begun growing broccoli and other crops during summer months, and speculators are drilling for gold, diamonds, and coal. Geological surveys also suggest that Greenland may contain vast offshore oil reserves.

These newfound sources of wealth have the island’s 58,000 residents, most of them Inuit, feeling empowered. In November 2008, three-quarters of them voted for independence from Denmark, which has governed the island as a colony for centuries. Ambitious local politicians even hinted that, if the movement continues, they may deserve some special consideration from the European Union. Especially because, as the Arctic ice continues to melt, new shipping lanes will open up just off of Greenland’s coast.


Although times are rough for most ocean-dwelling plants and animals, jellyfish are flourishing. For reasons that scientists don’t completely understand, the higher temperatures and increased acidification of ocean water are making the marine environment more hospitable to jellyfish. In addition, the overfishing of predators has left this invertebrate with an abundance of plankton to munch on. All these factors have led to record jellyfish “blooms” around the world, from Mexico to Great Britain to South Africa. In some parts of the Black Sea, blooms contain as many as 1,000 tiny comb jellyfish per cubic meter.

GOOD Magazine video of the Giant Nomura jellyfish [YouTube Clip]

But do good times mean drawbacks for humans? You bet. Some jellyfish can weigh up to 450 lbs., with tentacles up to 120 feet long. Massive Nomura jellyfish off the coast of Japan have decimated fishing villages by devouring fish eggs and tearing apart fishing nets. Plus, as we all know, their stings are nasty. Swarms around Hawaii and Japan have wreaked havoc on tourism industries that rely heavily on snorkeling and boat tours.


Jungfrau, one of the summits of the Alps. Photo: Jphoto [wikipedia]

While climate change is forcing glaciers to recede, it’s also allowing mountains to get taller. As the water stored in glaciers drains away, they mountains underneath them have less of a load to carry. And without all that weight, they can rise to their full heights. In the western arm of the Alps, for instance, mountains are growing at a rate of .035 inches per year. That’s good news for skiers, climbers, and large hills with Napoleon complexes.


Smallpox virions. Transmission electron micrograph by Dr. Fred Murphy, Sylvia Whitfield / CDC

After decades of vaccination campaigns, the World Health Organization declared smallpox eradicated in December 1979. But thanks to global warming, this little virus, which wiped out half a billion people during the 20th century, may be making a comeback.

Scientists believe that smallpox can live for decades, or even centuries, while frozen in the Arctic tundra. As temperatures continue to rise, some experts believe there is a distinct possibility that caches of smallpox stored in the ice could thaw, leading to a global epidemic. Indeed, when a mass grave was unearthed in Siberia in the 1980’s , testing showed that the antigen the virus was still active in the dead bodies. It’s a terrifying thought, but there is some good news. Even if smallpox resurfaces, an effective vaccine has already been in invented, so casualties wouldn’t be nearly as high as they were in previous centuries.


Track Earth's satellites with NASA J-Track-3D [Java applet]

For years, space researchers have recorded small changes in the speed of orbiting satellites. Sometimes they’d speed up; other times they’d slow down. Scientists soon found a correlation between these changes and the 11-year cycle of sunspots—the dark areas on the surface of the Sun that are caused by intense magnetic activity. Sunspots alter the density of the gases in the thermosphere, the outer layer of the atmosphere that is home to most satellites. When the gases become less dense, satellites travel faster; when they become more dense, satellites slow down.

It turns out that it isn’t just the Sun that’s been affecting the satellites, though. Increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are also altering their speeds. On the surface of the Earth, carbon dioxide actually cools things down. This makes the thermosphere less dense, allowing satellites to go faster. Scientists confirmed the effect in 2006, and the phenomenon may actually be benefiting us. With less drag, satellites require fewer course corrections and stay aloft longer, meaning that the giant hunks of metal won’t fall to the ground as often.


The article above, written by Gideon Banner, appeared in the Jan - Feb 2010 issue of mental_floss magazine. It is reprinted here with permission.

Don't forget to feed your brain by subscribing to the magazine and visiting mental_floss' extremely entertaining website and blog today!

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A benefit that this brilliant author left out:

Longer growing seasons.

I'm sure you all have read the panic media articles about a global food crises just around the corner. Global warming has the potential to save us all since the it will be warmer for more of the year and thus farmers will be able to get an additional crop per growing season.

The main thing about Global Warming is that the ice will melt. Ok, the sea level rises. Fine. So what? Move away from the coasts. Simple. Take all this money that the various Governments are taking from us and re-locate low land coastal people. Bummer for Bangledesh and Holland, but oh well; humans are a migratory species by nature. Deal with it.

Or starve as we enter into another ice age. Hey, at least you'll still have that great beach condo and your super-neato Prius.
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Enron started to push for cap and trade on CO2 in the 1990s, and one of the guys they funded to push for cap and trade was, drumroll, Al Gore.

Now, the argument that is supposed to persuade me that global warming is manmade, are these climate-models. However, why would anyone trust a model that is unable to predict the temperature next year, in 2 years, 5 years or 50 years? The obvious answer is apparently that yes, trust the model, which means we should change the CO2-parameter, even when we dont know the outcome. Sure, we know the chemical outcome(less plantfood available), but the atmosphere is a chaotic system. The outcome of changing CO2-content will be negative, positive or neutral regarding temperature.

When you dont know the outcome, you are playing russian climate-roulette AND wasting money that could be used for, hmmm, i dont know, AIDS or something that kills a lot of actual humans instead of imaginary people who live in the future that might have to escape from the sea moving in on them like the worlds slowest tsunami.

Worst case scenario of changing the weather is that CO2-reduction works, and earth goes into ice-age mode. Trust me here, iceage is a baaaaad thing. You cant grow bananas in snow. A reason why people fear "nuclear winters" like ice-ages: Stuff will literally not grow, and 90% of every living thing will die.

Oh, and if CO2-reduction makes it warmer, hey, big bonus! Warmer climate means more growth and food available. Downside is, CO2-reduction will lead to less plantfood available. CO2 is used in greenhouses to speed up plantgrowth after all.
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Wiki says that Greenland's name was either a trick to encourage settlers or a mistranslation of "Ground-land":

"..it is said that Norwegian-born Erik the Red .. named the land Grœnland ("Greenland") in the hope that the pleasant name would attract settlers.
Greenland was also called Gruntland ("Ground-land") and Engronelant (or Engroneland) on early maps. Whether green is an erroneous transcription of grunt ("ground"), which refers to shallow bays, or vice versa, is not known. The southern portion of Greenland (not covered by glacier) is indeed green in the summer and was probably even greener in Erik's time during the Medieval Warm Period...

Regarding is Global Warming man-made or not debate. I cannot understand this as an argument against dealing with Global Warming consequences and trying to minimise the warming. It is like finding your house on fire and refusing to put it out because you claim it was caused by a hot summer - so why should you interfere? It wasn't you who caused it.
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Natan, I agree the article wasn't very good at pointing out if it was being sarcastic. Recall the talking point from the global warming skeptics: if global warming exists based on logical science and not the lies, we can accept that. We don't have to join the hysterical cult of doom, though, and a global warming future can be bright, not a nightmare. The problem has been, 99% of what we hear from promoting the idea of global warming, is the hysterical stuff. If Mental Floss has bought into the hysterical cult of global warming (I don't know), then maybe this article is trying to be clever and making fun of the talking point for global warming skeptics. Like this: 'Hey in the future, it's not all bad. You can enjoy your hot jellyfish soup on a nice balmy day in Greenland on the beach, watching the ships come in. Finish it off with a nice glass of meltwater that might give you smallpox. Hurry, though. The sun sets early because the mountains have grown so tall. Hopefully the fast moving satellites can avoid the tall mountains, otherwise you might not be able to catch today's small pox death toll on TV'.
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So the sun is causing this...
I think we need to send Al Gore there to check it out.
And if he says it's too hot to go there, tell him we'll send him at night when its cooler. ;-)

I don't buy into Global warming cause by man!
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