The way things are going, we can expect global warming to wipe out humanity in the next few years. Or never, it's not completely clear. So why dwell on negatives like drowning deaths and widespread panic? There's a bright side of our impending doom to look forward to and plenty of good things catastrophic climate change may bring to you (and the environment).
In general, humans do better in extreme heat than extreme cold--a lot more of us live around the warm equator than the frigid poles. So it makes sense that global warming wouldn't be nearly the disaster that, say, a new Ice Age would be. Especially when you take into account the fact that we've yet to find crops that like to grow under three feet of ice.
A new Ice Age isn't the stuff of science fiction, either. These cooling periods have happened at least four times that we know about, caused by slight changes in the Earth's orbit around the Sun that happen from time to time. It's a regular cycle. Our current warming is not, however, part of that cycle. Right now we should be cooling down, but thanks to those brave souls who refuse to give up Hummers, make margaritas with diesel-powered blenders and drive their hovercrafts to get the daily mail, we're not. This may not be all bad news, if the warming will wind up delaying or blunting the effects of the next Ice Age, as some experts think it will.
Maybe it will at least stop this one.
On the Other Hand...
Of course, some might call this a draw as we may be trading an Ice Age for living on an overheated desert planet where everyone has to wear suits that make us drink our recycled pee and take sandworms to commute to work in the Spice mines where our boss is Sting in a Diaper.
In other words, the Earth doesn't have a thermostat that we can adjust up or down one or two degrees to keep us comfortable. What we humans need is as little change as possible, and we could be setting up a situation where we spend the next few centuries adapting to a warmer world and cutting greenhouse emissions, only to then get sucker punched by the next Ice Age when it eventually arrives.
We try to keep things light-hearted here, so let's put it this way: Every winter someone, or 10,000 someones, forgets to turn up grandma's thermostat and by the time Christmas rolls around the family gathers to discover a Grandma-cicle under the Christmas tree.
OK, that was actually much more disturbing than if we had just said it outright: Winter kills people. Not just from freezing to death, either; warmer winters will save people from dying of pretty much EVERYTHING. Studies have shown that cold causes more of almost every kind of death, from heart attacks to digestive system disorders to infectious diseases, all of which jump in cold winter temperatures. For example, respiratory disease jumps 149 percent in colder winters. Death by digestive system failure shoots up 113 percent. Even parasitic deaths leap by 112 percent despite the common wisdom that hot temperatures make for prime parasite paradise. And of course, warmer temps equal less ice which equal less vehicular manslaughter.
Name a way to die and most likely colder temperatures increase the odds. Now here comes the freaky part: Scientists don't know why. One theory is cold temperature puts more strain on virtually every system of the body, and of course the fact that everybody is packed indoors probably helps spread bugs around. Either way, the cold is hard on us humans, and milder winters can only help.
Extreme cold makes literally everything worse.
On the Other Hand...
The above studies were done in the United States, and probably does apply to all industrialized countries with similar climates. Meanwhile, the people living near the equator are going to be getting their asses kicked by climate change--everything from coastal flooding, to drought in already-starving countries, to Malaria. Still... we're going to save so much on mittens here.
If you're a farmer in America or Europe, or a multinational conglomerate that owns all the farms, global warming is your friend. As temperatures rise, areas formerly barren, like tundra, will begin to produce vegetation. In addition, increased temps will create longer growing seasons and yields will also benefit from fewer crop-killing freezes. Canada and parts of Europe could start growing more food right away.
Also, remember that plants eat CO2. The additional CO2 global warming brings will increase photosynthesis in plants, making the process more efficient, requiring less water. With new, water-sipping plants, not only can we expect more food, trees and agriculture with fewer resources, but a cheaper, easier way to create biofuels, which up to this point have created more ecological damage than good.
It could be a no-win situation.
Hell, what are we even worried about?
On the Other Hand...
Climate change also messes with rainfall patterns, and could turn a lot of the current farmland we depend on into the Dust Bowl. We just don't know. Maybe we'll be knee-deep in corn cobs. Maybe we'll all starve. It'll be a surprise! That's the thing, when you're talking about your food supply, uncertainty is automatically a bad thing. Most people would rather eat at a restaurant where they know they'll get a mediocre steak every time, than one where you may get either Kobe beef or a cow turd depending on the mood of the chef.