Even a noted climate contrarian is now worried about global warming

The future isn’t bright.
The future isn’t bright.
Image: Reuters/Stringer
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In the academic world of climate change, Richard Tol has been labeled a “lukewarmer.” While he believes in man-made climate change, the economist is known for highlighting what he believes to be the positive effects of global warming.  Now, the so-called climate contrarian warns human societies will soon feel the brunt of global warming.

Tol, who’s an advisor to the climate skeptic lobby group Global Warming Policy Foundation, stated the adverse effects of rising temperatures would likely outweigh the good on BBC Radio’s Changing Climate program. “More pronounced warming is probably a net negative,” he said.  

Tol had previously rejected the UN’s conclusions on the impact of climate change, calling it “too alarmist,” and had described a tipping point between the positive and negative effects of climate change—what other researchers have described as the “Goldilocks temperature.”

This suggests many, predominantly rich countries are set to benefit from climate change up to a certain temperature, but productivity will likely fall once global temperatures pass this point. Tol had expected this to be “around 1.1˚C of warming relative to pre-industrial” temperatures.

The BBC presenter was quick to point out that we’re almost at this dangerous boundary—earlier this month the UK’s Met Office predicted global temperatures will rise more than 1˚C by the end of 2015. The record-breaking heat of the last 10 months suggests 2015 will be Earth’s warmest year in history.

Tol now suggests the idea that the world would likely benefit from anything up to 2˚C of warming as “a bit too optimistic.”