|Deserts of the World|
This is one of the phrases I had to teach today—in an English class:
“As the earth gets warmer through global warming, and climate change makes life harder for plants, animals, and people to live, we need to find ways to make our world a better place.”
It is hard not to gag. Yet I am forced to teach this, no doubt like millions of other teachers of every conceivable subject all over the globe.
Let’s assume that the climate is indeed changing, and that the globe is getting warmer. Let’s assume this is primarily because of what mankind is doing. Fine. Those are both debatable, but fine. Even so, how clear is it that this will make life harder for plants, animals, or people? Surely at least the case must be made. We ought not to be teaching kids to take everything on faith, and not to think about it.
Fundamentally, the argument is that global warming is being caused by more carbon dioxide in the air. Right? Carbon dioxide is essential food for plants. More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere should make life easier for plants.
Animals, then, live on plants. More plants should make life easier for animals.
Humans live on plants and animals. More plants and animals should make life easier for humans.
Plants also live on warmth. The warmest part of the earth is the tropics. The tropics are also the lushest part of the earth, where there is the greatest abundance of plant and animal life and plants and animals grow fastest. There is no part of the world that is too warm for plant life. The warmer it gets, the more plant life. The coldest part is at the poles, and this is the part of the earth most barren of plant and animal life. Cold enough, and there is no plant or animal life, as at the South Pole.
Accordingly, if the colder parts of the planet get warmer, we should have more plant and animal life, not less. At the same time, if the tropics get warmer, we will again probably get more plant and animal life. There seems no risk of getting too warm.
Aha! You will say; what about the deserts?
The earth’s deserts are not at the equator; not at what should naturally be the warmest places on earth. Deserts are not caused by excessive heat, but by a lack of precipitation, by a lack of moisture. They also become desperately hot, true, but this is caused secondarily, by the lack of precipitation, cloud cover, and vegetation.
Now consider: with global warming, we are all warned, the ice caps are supposed to melt, and the sea level to rise. There will be a lot more water for the evaporation cycle, the process of evaporation should be faster, and so there should be more rainfall on balance everywhere. Hence, fewer and smaller deserts.
Hence, more plant life. Water is also food for plants. And more animal life, as the animals live off the plants. And more human life.
I’m sure it will all be terrible, and the world will end as we know it. It is just hard to see how.