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Global Warming's Silver Lining For the Arctic Rim 582

Posted by Soulskill
from the inspired-me-to-go-burn-some-tires dept.
Pickens writes "According to Laurence C. Smith, an Arctic scientist who has consistently sounded alarms about the approach of global warming, within 40 years the Arctic rim may be transformed by climate change into a new economic powerhouse. As the Arctic ice recedes, ecosystems extend, and minerals and fossil fuels are discovered and exploited, the Arctic will become a place of 'great human activity, strategic value and economic importance.' Sparsely populated areas like Canada, Scandinavia, Russia and the northern United States — the northern rim countries, or NORCs — will become formidable economic powers and migration magnets. Predictions in Smith's new book The Earth in 2050 include the following: New shipping lanes will open during the summer in the Arctic, allowing Europe to realize its 500-year-old dream of direct trade between the Atlantic and the Far East, and resulting in new economic development in the north; NORCs will be among the few place on Earth where crop production will likely increase due to climate change; and NORCs will become the envy of the world for their reserves of fresh water, which may be sold and transported to other regions."
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Global Warming's Silver Lining For the Arctic Rim

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  • Gulf Stream (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zironic (1112127) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @05:17AM (#34022372)

    I havn't RTFA, but has he accounted for that climate change is predicted to destroy the gulf stream? If that stops flowing Scandinavia is predicted to become /colder/ even with global warming.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Vintermann (400722)

      Climate change isn't predicted to destroy the gulf stream, at least not to remotely degree of confidence we associate with other climate-related predictions.

      • by h4rm0ny (722443)
        It used to be, didn't it? Wasn't collapse of the gulf stream one of the big risks put forward of global warming, at one point? Is that no longer supported by anyone?
        • by WarJolt (990309)

          we won't know until it happens. So until then our government will institute policy as if it is a sure thing.

          • Re:Gulf Stream (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Burnhard (1031106) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @05:57AM (#34022532)
            Policy stances on pissing into the wind make no difference on the direction the wind blows.
          • by vadim_t (324782)

            Just like with other long term things, no?

            I mean, do countries wait until it's clear there's going to be a war before they start training an army and making weapons? The US also has the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, just in case. It's generally a good thing to plan ahead.

            • by Burnhard (1031106)
              Again (I say `again' because I frequently make this point), this is the precautionary principle [wikipedia.org] v the law of unintended consequences [wikipedia.org]. For example, it may be the case that maintaining a strong army and large defence industry makes you more likely to engage in war, much like giving a child pads and a helmet will make him more likely to take greater risks when he rides his bicycle.
              • by vadim_t (324782)

                But that's kind of what they're there for.

                An army isn't so much protection against war as protection against getting invaded, and forcing others to do your bidding.

                Pads and a helmet indeed are so that you can take greater risks. It's technically possible to sit on a box containing an engine and ride on it at 80 MPH. Nobody does it because that's too dangerous. A car on the other hand protects you enough that the tradeoff is worth it. If we could be safe enough at 300 MPH (as we are in an airplane or bullet

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Vintermann (400722)

          It is a big risk in the sense that it would be bad in the case that it happens. It's listed in the IPCC proceedings under "nonlinear response of the North Atlantic thermohaline circulation".

          Warning that something bad can happen is not the same as predicting it. I don't think anyone is supporting it in the sense "this is very likely to occur", and it would be very odd if they did so at an earlier time (since the uncertainty would have been even greater).

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by publicworker (701313)

        Climate change isn't predicted to destroy the gulf stream, at least not to remotely degree of confidence we associate with other climate-related predictions.

        (disclaimer: oceanographer with only fleeting interest in global warming)

        True, but I would like to elaborate. Some of the early climate models predicted the Gulf Stream to shut down* and naturally one of the objectives for building better models was to confirm or disprove these predictions. I don't think any of the newest IPCC models show the Gulf Stream shutting down but there are indications that it may slow down in the future. Not enough to off set the underlying warming though.

        So it seems we don't have

    • There is no evidence the phenomenon – which brings a constant flow of warm water and mild weather to northern Europe – has slowed down over the past 20 years, climate scientists say.
      ‘The changes we’re seeing in overturning strength are probably part of a natural cycle,’ said researcher Josh Willis, from Nasa.

      Please stop repeating the same old alarmist conjecture, hypothesis, unfounded speculation, stupefyingly idiotic model predictions and start actually going out and measu [agu.org]

      • by sznupi (719324)

        Of course you realize the people saying that also support AGW?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Burnhard (1031106)

          Of course you realize the people saying that also support AGW?

          Yes of course I do. They are in the business of successfully transferring money from the Government to their institution, so naturally they must append, "because of man-made Global Warming" to each and every grant proposal. But anyway, that doesn't change the facts and the facts are what we're interested in, surely?

          • by sznupi (719324)

            And you do know what are some of the most wealthy corporations around, right? I'll give a hint: somewhat involved in sources of energy. And would be more than happy to make any scientists able to refute AGW fabulously wealthy on the personal level, any grant institution with assured funding.

            (really funny how the facts are facts for you only as long as they reaffirm what you want... to hell with all the rest of "facts" the messengers bring)

    • by rve (4436)

      I havn't RTFA, but has he accounted for that climate change is predicted to destroy the gulf stream? If that stops flowing Scandinavia is predicted to become /colder/ even with global warming.

      That idea never made sense to me...

      The gulf stream is powered by the forming of ice in the north Atlantic during winter: water crystallizes to ice while salt is expelled, increasing salinity and thus density of the water, which causes a downward flow. An increase in temperature would lead to less ice formation, a slower downward flow and thus a slower gulf stream. Ok, this still makes sense. A slower gulf stream would lead to a lower temperature, ok this still makes sense, right? A drop in temperature cause

  • To summarize: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by slasho81 (455509)
    Arctic scientist says the Arctic will become super important.
    Is it grant hunting season already?
    • Re:To summarize: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Idiomatick (976696) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @09:47AM (#34024082)
      Grats on playing into the summaries hands. Just because it says hes an arctic scientist doesnt mean that he is. If you think about it, it doesnt make any sense, there is no such position. The summary just goaded you into making an ass of yourself and succeeded.

      Laurence C. Smith is a professor of geography at UCLA and a hydrologist. Sure he did write a book about the future importance of the north. That does not indicate that he is some how reliant on arctic study... Or something like that. Nor was there indication that he'd have written a book purely to get grants. It seems to be something he is interested in so he did research on and wrote a book. The science is real, we have found tons of oil reserves and gas reserves. This was obvious without even doing the science. We suddenly have new land available to us that we didn't have before. And new trade routes opening is obvious hell, it is happening to some degree already through Canadian waters.

      If you dispute his claims then find science against him. If publishing a paper or saying something is important or being a part of the field you are researching is an inditement of fraud then science becomes impossible. You cannot force scientists to be in fields they don't care about. Write about things they find unimportant and are not educated in. It doesn't make sense.

      The anti-science rhetoric coming out of /. these days isn't insightful. It is about as cute as the 'correlation != causation', true in some cases but it isn't an argument that can be blanket applied to everything.

      You aren't insightful, you got played.
  • Oh, excellent... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blind biker (1066130) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @05:52AM (#34022518) Journal

    as long as you can get there and survive there due to the hurricanes.

    Increasing the total energy in the atmosphere will not result in a well-behaved warming, but in more variable and extreme weather patterns, and there will be more hurricanes and storms at seas. This little game humanity is playing with the Earth may well end up in tears.

    • by khallow (566160)

      as long as you can get there and survive there due to the hurricanes.

      Yes, as we saw in the documentary, "The Day After Tomorrow", the superstorms sucked. Fortunately, the human survivors did that bonding thing and we don't have to worry about superstorms any more.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Rockoon (1252108)

      as long as you can get there and survive there due to the hurricanes.

      Increasing the total energy in the atmosphere will not result in a well-behaved warming, but in more variable and extreme weather patterns, and there will be more hurricanes and storms at seas.

      The science would like to have a word with you. The current theory is that increased warming will increase wind sheer in the atmosphere, decreasing the severity and number of hurricanes.

      Unlike your unfounded alarmist (aka bullshit) claims, I am going to provide a source, from the NOAA.. a great friend of the warmers.

      CLIMATE MODELS SUGGEST WARMING-INDUCED WIND SHEAR CHANGES COULD IMPACT HURRICANE DEVELOPMENT, INTENSITY [noaa.gov]

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by dr2chase (653338)
        Maybe. Note that the shear is not uniformly reduced, and that reference at least predicts no change north of Miami, so any storms forming or surviving in that part of the ocean, are thus predicted to be stronger than usual because of warmer water.

        The problem is that it's not just hurricanes; climate models also predict widespread drought [wiley.com] (pdf):

        Climate models project increased aridity in the 21st century over most of Africa, southern Europe and the Middle East, most of the Americas, Australia, and Southe

  • It's going to become warmer, but won't people get wet feet when all that ice flows into the ocean?

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @06:56AM (#34022716) Journal
    While it might be nice for the peoples of the Arctic rim to be able to move from a "shivering a lot and burning penguins for warmth" based economy(yes, I know, penguins are antarctic; but the arctic doesn't have any birds nearly as iconic), the fact that there are many more people, and a lot more land, closer to the equator is going to make that move a major net downer. Particularly since the inhabitants of the new equatorial desert are unlikely to take kindly to any plans that involve them dying quietly in their place, which will imply a certain amount of desperate migration, which never goes very well....
    • by Peeteriz (821290)

      Of course it is so - but since I live far from the equatorial parts, for me the global warming has a potential to be a net benefit.

      In fact, given this data, I wouldn't be surprised if the large and economically strong northern countries would deliberately continue the global warming trends, since it would benefit them a tiny bit, and greatly harm their future global competitors such as China, India, Brazil and all the SE Asian countries - which would clearly dominate the world soon otherwise.

      • Given the amount of angst and disruption caused by the relatively puny numbers of existing economic migrants, I suspect that things might not be so ducky.

        Even in situations where the long-term basically turns out well(ie. the US's comparatively open immigration policy(with various historical exceptions based on whatever flavor of subhuman we are freaking out about today) has basically been reasonably successful; short, sharp upticks in migration, particularly the sort that is more desperate than entrepre
    • by Burnhard (1031106) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @07:11AM (#34022772)
      What evidence do you have that there's going to be a desert across the equator? I mean apart from the fact that the UK Met Office decided to change its map to show all landmasses as brown, rather than green (when I fly over the UK, it looks pretty ****ing green to me - what they did was very Orwellian, if I may say so). If equatorial desertification does happen, it will be due to population pressure, deforestation and agricultural practices, not AGW.
      • Doesn't really matter what causes desertification, the consequences are largely the same. More specifically, we are discussing an article proposing the notion that fair portions of the arctic are going to become more or less temperate. I am granting that the status of "true for the sake of argument". Given that, severe ecological disruption, and probable desertification, of equatorial regions seems fairly likely.

        If TFA's projection is wrong, that may not be true at all; but there also isn't much to talk
    • (yes, I know, penguins are antarctic; but the arctic doesn't have any birds nearly as iconic)

      Did anyone ever try to transplant penguins from the Antarctic to the Arctic? It would be an interesting experiment, and definitely worth a Ig Nobel. On the other hand, when folks start transplanting animals into foreign environments, it always ends in tears. Ask someone in Australia about rabbits, or someone in Florida about pythons: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbits_in_Australia [wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burmese_Pythons_in_Florida [wikipedia.org]

  • Canadian Mosquito and Black Fly Overlords.

    If Smith's unlikely “thought experiment” scenario was to happen. Wouldn't a lot of the Canadian arctic be a shallow sea, caused by the rising sea levels? So don't rush out buying land before checking an elevation chart.

    • by Dunbal (464142) *

      So don't rush out buying land before checking an elevation chart.

            Or get flood insurance?

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @07:31AM (#34022882) Homepage

    I find it amazing that people who report on climate change/global warming/armageddon fail to appreciate the nature of weather. Weather is *water moving in the air.* This simple understanding explains just about everything that happens with the weather.

    Sure, warmer areas mean melted ice and areas that were before inaccessible or unusable. But there's more to it than that. There will be global weather pattern changes as well. Places that once got rain will dry up. Places that were arid will get wet. Conditions favorable to certain life and vegetation will change and that life and vegetation will simply die off and even become extinct. We have a global ecosystem that is being changed and upset in ways that simply cannot be predicted. Being able to reclaim some land is what I would characterize as some "short term gains."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cbeaudry (706335)

      So it gets dry here, wet there, hot here and cold there.

      Things change. Its the nature of time.

      No one has demonstrated without a doubt that it means the end of civilization.

      We will adapt, migrate and flourish, because that is human nature.

      Expecting to maintain the status quo because this is what we "currently" know as being comfortable and "optimum" is short sighted and frankly ridiculous.

      And with all that aside. No one has demonstrated either that there will be DRASTIC changes yet. Its all speculation, base

      • by vadim_t (324782) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @10:51AM (#34024806) Homepage

        No one has demonstrated without a doubt that it means the end of civilization.

        I've never, ever heard of anybody say it would. Please link to any place where you've heard it.

        What is there is a potential for things getting seriously unpleasant. There was an earthquake in Haiti recently for instance. That's the kind of "unpleasant" I'm thinking of, only in multiple places at once. Will the human race survive? Sure. Do I want to be there when it happens? Hell, no.

        We will adapt, migrate and flourish, because that is human nature.

        Oh, there's been a lot of flourishing in New Orleans lately? You mean that they quickly fixed everything in a couple of months and since then it's been awesome? And of course I'm sure you don't mind at all the amount of tax money that it took to fix it, as well as the loss the economy took from having all those people stop what they were doing and get to rebuilding.

        There's a big difference between having to adapt quickly and having to adapt over centuries.

        Let's say the sea level rises. If it rises a few meters in 50 years, you may see your house on the beach get flooded. If it rises in 5000 years, there's likely to be a point where one of your descendants decides that the sea came uncomfortably close a few years back, and moves somewhere else.

  • More oil, yay! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sorak (246725) on Tuesday October 26, 2010 @11:57AM (#34025830)

    So, if global warming turns the arctic into a temperate zone, then they can dig up more oil. If we ever reach that point, can we agree that "more oil" is not the answer to our problems?

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman

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