GOP Science chairman extolls 'benefits' of climate change

GOP Science chairman extolls 'benefits' of climate change
© Greg Nash

The chairman of the House Science Committee argued Monday that climate change is real and has numerous benefits in areas like agriculture and shipping.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), an outspoken skeptic of mainstream climate science, wrote in the Heritage Foundation's Daily Signal that the “benefits of a changing climate are often ignored and under-researched.”

“Our climate is too complex and the consequences of misguided policies too harsh to discount the positive effects of carbon enrichment,” he said.

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Smith said higher carbon dioxide concentrations aid photosynthesis, increasing plant growth, while warmer temperatures would increase growing seasons.

Melting ice in the Arctic opens up shipping channels, Smith said, and fossil fuels in general have fueled massive economic growth.

Researchers have frequently argued that any benefits to global warming would be far outweighed by drawbacks.

For example, Jørgen E. Olesen, a professor at Denmark’s Aarhus University, has found that certain crops in areas like Denmark and Canada will likely fare better in a warmer climate.

But much of the rest of the world is expected to experience declining agricultural returns.

Even shipping would see significant problems in the Arctic, despite newly-open routes. Melting ice produces icebergs, for example.