Can we benefit from climate change?

Whilst the negative effects of climate change can be catastrophic, not everything is doom and gloom [1]!

Migration of fish species will mean fishermen in some areas will have more to catch [1]. For example, sea bass, red mullet and squid are expected to migrate into UK waters [2]. But many fish will suffer from climate change [16].

Global warming can benefit crops – warmer temperatures and more carbon dioxide make some plants grow faster [1]. However, in most areas, the problems for agriculture caused by climate change will be worse, such as long droughts, and flooding by seawater [12,13]. Responses differ between crops: sugarcane will benefit from higher temperatures, but many other crops will suffer, including wheat, rice, and oil seeds [15].

In the winter of 2017-18 about 50 thousand people died due to cold weather in England and Wales [6]. Warmer winters will mean fewer people die from cold in the winter [1]. But deaths from summer heat will likely increase, offsetting the winter benefit [1].

As summer temperatures increase, some places will become more popular tourist destinations [1]. Whilst this may benefit the economy, it could damage wildlife as tourist resorts are built [8]. In other areas, tourism will suffer due to high temperatures, rising sea levels flooding coasts, and death of coral reefs [7,10].

As ice melts, new shipping routes will open up [11]. For example, the Northwest Passage through the north of Canada will become ice free for more of the year, making trade by ship transport faster and cheaper [3,11].

Unfortunately, the cons of climate change vastly outweigh the pros [1]. Relatively small short-term benefits will be dwarfed by much more serious negatives if temperatures continue to increase [1]. But alongside working to limit climate change, we should adapt how we live, farm, build etc. to make the most of the benefits climate change brings [14].

References

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