Whether the phenomenon is exaggerated or whatever the cause, the uncomfortable fact is that very few climate scientists believe that the process is significantly reversible, and certainly not by unilateral U.S. action. As the Heartland Institute’s James Taylor noted in Forbes, data released by the Environmental Protection Agency earlier this year indicate that even if the United States and the entire Western Hemisphere immediately and completely eliminated all carbon dioxide emissions, the growth in Chinese emissions alone would likely render this action moot within a decade.
Despite the doomsday talk, global warming will be a net economic benefit to the United States, in at least the short term and probably for several decades. Really.
Back in 2008, Thomas Fingar, chairman of the National Intelligence Council, briefed the House Select Committee on Intelligence about the national security implications of climate change and noted, “net cereal crop yields likely will increase by 5 to 20 percent, for example, and most studies suggest the United States as a whole will enjoy modest economic benefits over the next few decades largely due to the increased crop yields.” He added, “The growing season has lengthened an average of two days per decade since 1950 in Canada and the contiguous United States.”
. . . Besides a longer growing season, Americans will see economic benefits from the opening of the Northwest Passage, a sea route connecting the Pacific and Atlantic running north of Alaska and Canada. Rising temperatures will thaw out the frozen course and offer a much faster and cheaper method for transoceanic shipping — saving perhaps $1 million per trip.
Adm. Gary Roughead, the U.S. Navy’s chief of naval operations, calls the phenomenon “the opening of the Fifth Ocean” and foresees it being a “profitable sea route” in a matter of two decades. With this thawing will come access to a treasure trove of resources — from nearly a quarter of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas reserves, to large deposits of rare earth minerals that power everything electronic, to perhaps the oil of the 21st century: fresh water supplies in the form of polar ice.