Looking for the Good in Global Warming

Sick of reading about all the work that must be done to slow and mitigate the impact of global warming? A growing number of scientists are investigating how to "make climate change work for us."
December 1, 2012, 9am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Guy Gugliotta looks at the work of scientists studying how hotter temps and higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could be a boon to plant growth, and in turn, feed a growing planet. They're focusing their research on cities, "which have conditions that can mimic what life may be like in the temperate zone of a heated planet."

“'There is a lot of emphasis on the mitigation of global warming, and we need that,' said Lewis H. Ziska, a plant physiologist for the Department of Agriculture, who is one of a growing number of scientists studying how plants react to elevated levels of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. At the same time, he added, 'we need to think about the tools we have at hand, and how we can use them to make climate change work for us.'”

"The effects of higher, mostly urban emissions are what prompted Dr. Ziska to reappraise global warming as a potential benefit to humanity. In an essay last summer in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Dr. Ziska and a group of colleagues from across the world argued that an expected increase in world population to 9 billion people from 7 billion by 2050 necessitated a “green revolution” to enhance yields of basic grains. Carbon dioxide, the group suggested, could be the answer.

“I try to avoid words like ‘good,’ ‘bad,’ ‘detrimental’ or ‘beneficial,’ ” said Kevin L. Griffin, an ecophysiologist at Columbia University who participated in a study about the 'heat island effect' on the red oak trees in New York."

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Published on Monday, November 26, 2012 in The New York Times
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