Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Other Side of the Coin: Can Climate Change Bring in Positive Impacts?

By Chatura Rodrigo
Research Economist, IPS

Most of the global phenomenon has two sides to their story. They bring negative as well as positive impacts. Climate change is no different. Debate on the climate change impacts has a long history. Many talk about the negative impacts of climate change. However, there are also scientists who argue on the positives of climate change.  A major reason for not talking about the positive impacts is that the negatives are much more overwhelming than the positives. Negative impacts are easily visible.  Floods, heavy rainfalls, droughts, disease outbreaks, harvest losses, reduction in drinking water, threats on energy security, threats on food security and threats on bio-diversity, top the list. However, positive impacts are hard to convince and receive less attention from the scientific as well as policy making entities. 

Positive impacts of climate change: Argument of the other side

The first documentary on the benefit of climate change was released in 1992 produced by the Institute for Biosphere Research and was sponsored by the Western Fuels Association Inc. This was the era where there was a lot of concern about the CO2 emissions and George W. Bush, - President of the United States of America agreed to a voluntary reduction in CO2 emissions. In this documentary sponsored by the oil lobby group of the United States of America, soil scientist Sherwood Idso stated that the doubling of the CO2 levels will produce a tremendous greening of plant earth while increasing the agricultural productivity by 30%. Industrially elevated atmospheric CO2 has since increased to about 400 parts per million (ppm), nearly 90 ppm over 1950 levels(i). Even though this has resulted in some agricultural gains in recent decades, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) argues that the overall negative impacts are much higher than the increase in agricultural productivity.