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the world occurred between 1550 and 1700.92 These frigid times did bring hardships, and as the chart shows world population growth slowed. For much of these centuries, famine and disease stalked Europe and Asia.
The cold during this period produced some of the greatest windstorms ever recorded in Europe. A terrible tempest destroyed the Spanish Armada in 1588. Fierce gales wracked Europe in December 1703 and on Christmas Day 1717.73 The contrast between the cold northern temperatures which moved south and the warm subtropical Atlantic undoubtedly generated a fierce jet stream. Although we lack any information, this may also, have enhanced tornado activity on the plains of the United States. 74
The deteriorating climate in Europe was heralded by harvest failure in the last quarter of the thirteenth century. One of the first severe bouts of cold wet weather afflicted Europe from 1310 to 1319, leading to large scale crop failures.75 Harvest deficits and hunger preceded the Black Death by 40 years.
.76 Scanty food output contributed to a decline in population which was aggravated by disease. People poorly nourished were quickly carried off by disease. The unpleasant weather is likely to have confined people to their homes where they were more likely to be exposed to the fleas that carried the bubonic plague. In addition the inclement weather may have induced rats to take shelter in human buildings, exposing their inhabitants to the bacillus.
The poorer climate in Europe after the thirteenth century brought a halt to the economic boom of the High Middle Ages. Innovation slowed sharply. 77 Except for military advances, technological improvements ceased for the next 150 years. Population growth not only ended but, with starvation and the black death, fell. The economic slump of 1337 brought on the collapse of the great Italian bank, Scali, leading to one of the first recorded major financial crises.78 Construction on churches and cathedrals halted.
The cold had devastating effects elsewhere in the world. In China, frosts killed the orange trees in Kiangsi province between 1646 and 1676.79 Per capita incomes fell as food prices rose. As already mentioned, cooler weather brought an end to the Anastazi Indian pueblo culture, as well as ending native American farming in the upper middle west.
Lamb (1977): 463. 73 Lamb (1988): 158. 74 Lamb (1977): 467. 75 Lamb (1977): 454. 76 amb (1977): 266. T/Gimpel (1983): 150. 78Gimpel (1983): 151. 79 amb (1977): 471.
Costs and Benefits of Efforts to Mitigate Warming If mankind had to choose between a warmer or a cooler climate, humans, most other animals and, after adjustment, most plants would be better off with higher temperatures. Not all animals or plants would prosper under these conditions; many are adapted to the current weather and might have difficulty making the transition. Society might wish to help natural systems and various species adapt to warmer temperatures (or cooler, should that occur). Whether the climate will warm is far from certain; that it will change is unquestionable. The weather has changed in the past and will no doubt continue to vary in the future. Human activity is likely to play only a small and uncertain role in climate change. The burning of fossil fuel may generate an enhanced greenhouse effect or the release into the atmosphere of particulates may cause cooling. It may also be simply hubris to believe that Homo Sapiens can affect significantly temperatures, rainfall and winds.
As noted, not all regions or all peoples benefit from a shift to a warmer climate. Some locales may become too dry or too wet; others may become too warm. Certain areas may be subject to high pressure systems which block storms and rains. Other parts may experience the reverse. On the whole, though, mankind should benefit from an upward tick in the thermometer. Warmer weather means longer growing seasons, more rainfall overall, and fewer and less violent storms. The optimal way to deal with potential climate change is not to strive to prevent it, a useless activity in any case, but to promote growth and prosperity so that people will have the resources to deal with any shift.
It is much easier for a rich country such as the United States to adapt to any long term shift in weather than it is for poor countries, most of which are considerably more dependent on agriculture than the rich industrial nations. Such populations lack the resources to aid their flora and fauna in adapting, and many of their farmers earn too little to survive a shift to new conditions. These agriculturally dependent societies could suffer real hardship if the climate shifts quickly. The best preventive would be a rise in incomes, which would diminish their dependence on agriculture. Higher earnings would provide them with the resources to adjust.
Should warming become apparent at some time in the future and should it create more difficulties than benefits, policy makers would have to consider preventive measures. Based on history, however, global warming is likely to be positive for most of mankind while the additional carbon, rain, and warmth should also promote plant growth that can sustain an expanding world population. Global change is inevitable; warmer is better, richer is healthier.
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Mr. ROHRABACHER. That was very interesting, that last observation or analysis was especially interesting.
Dr. Corell? STATEMENT OF ROBERT W. CORELL, PH.D., ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR GEOSCIENCES, NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION; AND CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON GLOBAL CHANGE RESEARCH
Mr. CORELL. Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, it is a pleasure for me to be here today and I thank you for that opportunity
It is my honor to be here to testify on behalf of the Departments and Agencies that support and implement the U.S. Global Change Program.
While this panel is focusing on impacts, my responsibility I think here today is to talk about the research strategies that lie behind our modelling efforts and the research strategies that help us support our studies of impacts. I have two things I would like to do, in summary.
One is to paint an overall picture of the strategy that underpins the global change program, and secondly to make some summary comments drawn from Panel One on the issue of modelling:
The U.S. Global Change Program is comprised of activities in 15 federal research agencies that support scientific research, as well as the planning and oversight activities that reside in the Executive Office of the President.
Together we plan, integrate, coordinate, and implement the programs and activities that comprise the U.S. Global Change Program.
We do that because it brings the unique capabilities of each of these agencies in an interlocked manner to give a holistic program of research addressing global change issues.
The program was established actually by President Reagan and forwarded to the Congress as a Presidential initiative in the budget for 1990.
It was formalized by the Congress through Public Law 101-606, the Global Change Research Act. It is within that framework that the program operates.
It is designed by law to provide for the development and coordination of a comprehensive and integrated U.S. research program which will assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change.
It further defines the scope fairly broadly to changes in the global environment, including alterations in climate, land productivity, oceans and other water resources, atmospheric chemistry, and ecological systems that may alter the capacity of the earth to sustain life. That is a very broad charge.
We take that seriously. To get some sense of priority, we have constrained our activities to five topical areas addressing seasonal to interannual climate fluctuations such as those resolving around
Secondly, to address the climate change issue that occurs over time scales of a few decades: