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Author Topic: Might Russia (and Canada?) actually want global warming?  (Read 3653 times)

jonthed

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Might Russia (and Canada?) actually want global warming?
« on: April 20, 2014, 09:38:34 PM »
(I wasn't sure which forum this fit in, please move it if you think it would fit better elsewhere)

As I was reading more of the latest news about the IPCC reports and the state of the permafrost etc. I suddenly wondered whether Russia, which seems to be dragging its feet on climate change commitments, might have actually decided it would benefit from climate change.

They have a huge area of land which suffers bitterly cold temperatures and extreme conditions for large chunks of the year, if not all of it, they have a huge amount of permafrost land, and they have their arctic coast. If global warming meant mush mor of their immense land area could become more productive for farming or forestry, more hospitable to live in or develop industry, and a huge coastline and an entire untouched ocean opened up to them in the arctic, would this not benefit Russia massively?

I know Russia has suffered severe droughts in recent years which was attributed to some degree to global warming, and can expect to experience more as global warming increases, but maybe they have done the maths, or taken a gamble, and decided that the benefits of a mostly ice free arctic and reclaimed permafrost will outweigh the occasional drought, particularly if they have an even larger area of arable land opened up.

Obviously too much global warming would probably devastate them, so I'm sure they wouldn't be going full throttle, but a couple of degrees may be to their benefit. They may be willing to let the temperatures go a little bit higher before they start to apply the brakes.

The same could go for canada too.

My thoughts here are obviously not founded in scientific research, just my own musings, I was hoping someone here might have seen something or have something to contribute regarding whether a couple of degrees warming would actually be beneficial for Russia, and actually in their interest. Opening up their permafrost and the arctic could make Russia an even bigger global contender than it already is, with vast crop yields and huge resources just as the rest of the world starts to need them even more...

Any thoughts or info on this?

Thanks.

Neven

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Re: Might Russia (and Canada?) actually want global warming?
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2014, 10:16:35 PM »
I would think the Russians are smarter than that, or at least focus on nothing else but fossil fuel profit. The land that comes available, isn't fit for agriculture, I believe, but maybe Monsanto can come up with something.
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Lucas Durand

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Re: Might Russia (and Canada?) actually want global warming?
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2014, 10:33:06 PM »
jonthed,
It's diffuicult to say what kind of notions (rediculous or otherwise) are floating around in people's minds at the elite policy making-level of society - I'm sure it varies.
In any case, I think anyone who believes that there will be a net long-term benefit to themselves (or their nation) from even a "small amount" of warming is either quite naive or is blinded by whatever cultural values are causing them to contemplate such things in the first place.

"Global warming" is not a linear process and precludes the types of "risk management" evaluations that are used to justify such plans.

jonthed

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Re: Might Russia (and Canada?) actually want global warming?
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2014, 11:04:22 PM »
I found this page which seems to have a good summary on the state of the science regarding my question, with links to other sections too.

http://www.climateadaptation.eu/russia/agriculture-and-horticulture/

It seems to have considered the pros and cons very thoroughly, referencing scientific papers...

Also has sections for other European countries. looks very interesting.

Lucas Durand

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Re: Might Russia (and Canada?) actually want global warming?
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2014, 12:53:54 AM »
jonthed,
Let me see if I can put it another way...

There is enough uncertainty about how earth's climate will change in the future that only fools will commit to and invest heavily in long-term plans based on "statistically most probable" future scenarios.
The further into the future you go from now, the more and more likely it becomes that the "real story" will manifest from somewhere inside the "error bars" (or maybe even from somewhere beyond the "error bars").

But history contains no shortage of examples of how capable people are at making fools of themselves.

jonthed

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Re: Might Russia (and Canada?) actually want global warming?
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2014, 01:49:26 AM »
Lucas,

I know and I agree, but as you say
Quote
history contains no shortage of examples of how capable people are at making fools of themselves.

Especially when those in power are the ones with vested interests.


Lucas Durand

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Re: Might Russia (and Canada?) actually want global warming?
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2014, 02:10:01 AM »
jonthed,
Yes.
I didn't intend to imply a yes or no answer to your original question - just to point out that if such plans are in the making, that the "planners" are also fools in the making.

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Might Russia (and Canada?) actually want global warming?
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2014, 02:12:57 AM »
I can't say anything about Canada but in my experience Russians seem to deny climate change (except as a joking matter) almost as much as the Americans do...

prometheus

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Re: Might Russia (and Canada?) actually want global warming?
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2014, 10:01:51 AM »
My initial reaction would be that, no, global warming would not be of net benefit to Canada or Russia. Even if we consider the possibility that it could bring about a more equable climate for them (it may not, warmer =/= better necessarily) it will still cause enormous hardship for people outside of their borders further south. They may be able to grow more food for themselves, but is it worth that in exchange for being embroiled in resource wars outside their borders? Global political instability will not work out well for them, as their economies are still tied to the welfare of the global economy on the whole.

jonthed,
Let me see if I can put it another way...

There is enough uncertainty about how earth's climate will change in the future that only fools will commit to and invest heavily in long-term plans based on "statistically most probable" future scenarios.
The further into the future you go from now, the more and more likely it becomes that the "real story" will manifest from somewhere inside the "error bars" (or maybe even from somewhere beyond the "error bars").

But history contains no shortage of examples of how capable people are at making fools of themselves.
I'm a little confused about this. If you were in charge of the investments of a large economy, would you invest according to "most probable" or "less probable"? Of course no one knows what the future will actually be, all we can say is what is more or less likely given current trends, but that's no reason to do nothing. Investments are and will continue to be made according to risk analyses, and those investments will largely go towards addressing "most probable" futures. Why would it be foolish to invest that way, it seems to be more foolish to invest otherwise?

Lucas Durand

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Re: Might Russia (and Canada?) actually want global warming?
« Reply #9 on: April 21, 2014, 04:36:20 PM »
Prometheus,
This is not an argument to do nothing.
There are ways to operate under conditions of high uncertainty but generally these types of m.o. are counterintuitive to present cultural (economic) wisdom and so are unlikely to be considered.
Appropriate responses to planning under conditions of high uncertainty involve making precaution a high priority, increasing the time horizon of projections, preserving as many options as possible through time, paying close attention to opportunity costs, creating redundancies and other "inefficiencies".

For example, consider that over-commitment to and over-investment in statistically most probable scenarios is the same path the French army took when they dug in too deeply with their Maginot line only to be outflanked, out-maneouvered and unable to respond effectively to events which seemed so improbable or impossible a short time earlier.
Hard to imagine that people were certain enough about the future of warfare that they would plan to build the ultimate trench to last a hundred years or more.
But they were, they did, and It seems pretty foolish in hindsight.

Planners in this day and age would be wise to realize that that flexibility is better than dogmatism and that a large fraction of their resources should be kept in reserve so as to deploy them for maximum effectiveness as events reveal themselves.