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Is Global Warming Good for Business?

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You may have noticed that the world is getting hotter. Not the kind of "hot" that brings up images of Jude Law or George Clooney. But the kind of hot that makes you dream of sailing across the Adriatic, jumping into a cool pool, lapping up the waves on the Pacific Northwest or escaping to an air-conditioned mall! This week in Central Park the temperature hit 103°F! Temps around the country and the globe have literally been killing people, destroying property, harming the planet and all those living on it in fundamental ways.

For two decades, climate scientists have been warning of impending extreme weather conditions and ecological disasters. Yet few have listened. Well, actually, a lot of us have been listening and talking about it too. But the powers that be (i.e. the American government and our Congressional representatives) have not taken it seriously enough to actually do anything about it.

So you may wonder, is this what global warming looks like? In a recent The Huffington Post article, Jonathan Overpeck, professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona answers with an unequivocal, yes! "This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level. The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about."

Gulp. It gets worse! Chris Field of the Carnegie Institution and Stanford University says, "It's really dramatic how many of the patterns that we've talked about as the expression of the extremes are hitting the U.S. right now." Princeton University geosciences and international affairs professor Michael Oppenheimer states: "What we're seeing really is a window into what global warming really looks like. ... It looks like heat. It looks like fires. It looks like this kind of environmental disasters." Oppenheimer says that triple-digit temps are causing severe windstorms. This past week a Chicago-to-D.C. windstorm with energy readings of five times normal thunderstorms killed 20 people and left millions more without electricity.

Is it all a coincidence? After a record-breaking warm winter, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported, "The United States has set more than 40,000 hot temperature records, but fewer than 6,000 cold temperature records." This means that in the first decade of the 20th century, America set two hot records for every cold one. The report continued, "This year the ratio is about 7 hot to 1 cold. Some computer models say that ratio will hit 20-to-1 by mid-century."

Well, what do they know anyway? Stanford, Princeton, climate science research centers -- after all, they are only experts!

Corn: The New Hot!

So back to the original question: Is global warming good for business? Perhaps not if you are a Midwest or East Coast corn farmer. Not only will global warming force corn prices to spike, but according to a new study, farmers will need to "develop more heat-tolerant corn varieties or gradually move corn production from the United States into Canada." Good-bye, Jersey sweet corn! Hello, Toronto corn?

For some northern corn growers, global warming might actually be good for business. Jim Byrum, president of the Michigan Agri-Business Association said warming is at least <"partially responsible for increased yields unlike anything the state has ever seen." He expects that trend to continue until 2025. If Byrum is right, it is entirely possible that after 2025 Michigan corn growers might join Jersey farmers in Canada!

But seriously, who cares about 2025? After 13 more years of big corn profits, you can retire to Canada and not even worry about it! Why not let the kids figure it out when the time comes? Maybe they will create climate-controlled pods that people can travel, work and farm in.

The Verdict Is Still Out

Most experts agree that as global warming heats up humans are at risk for scarcer and scarcer resources. Famine, drought and natural disasters caused by extreme weather conditions are not only life-threatening, but lead to serious economic devastation.

But does it really matter? Not everyone is convinced that global warming is responsible for the record-breaking heat waves. One debunker I asked laughed at the suggestion that climate change contributes to extreme temps. "Sure, it's global warming," he chuckled, "until the next blizzard hits."

So there you have it. If you are lucky enough to have functional air conditioning, a heat wave has not killed your crops, a windstorm has not knocked down your storefront, or a wildfire has not devoured your home, then global warming might not be a big concern for you. What really matters is what happens today. Let the future of melting icebergs take care of itself. That's in the Antarctic, right?

Recently, I called a local air conditioning company in New York to replace an older unit in my office. As I compared quotes, the rates increased 25 percent over the course of a few days. This only leads to one conclusion: in the hot hot summer of 2012, if you are the owner of an ocean-front resort, an air conditioning contracting business, an ice cream shop or a northern corn farmer, the hotter it gets, the better it is for business!

Monika Mitchell is the Founder & CEO of Good Business New York™, an innovative and award-winning sustainable business news journal based in New York City.