According to climate researchers the first half of 2006 was the warmest on record. On a daily basis we hear of the negative aspects of global warming. Without contributing to the disinformation campaign perpetrated by some oil & gas companies, I wondered what, if any, benefits there are to be had.

After seeing a report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality that gastric bypass and restrictive banding surgeries have increased 2000% among 55-64 year olds (1998-2004) and taking into account an article by Stephen Dubner on Freakonomics blog regarding the potential linkage between obesity and oil prices,

as higher oil prices continue to drive demand for corn-based ethanol, which drives the price of corn higher, which makes cheap corn syrup more expensive, which leads food manufacturers to seek out potentially less fattening sweeteners, will Americans get skinnier?

I wondered if we should go one step further and ask, will global warming make us skinnier? A study out last summer from obesity researcher, David Allison (University of Alabama – Birmingham) indicated that the use of air conditioning may be contributory to obesity.

Heating and air conditioning might also be to blame. When people and animals go above or below a “thermoneutral” ambient temperature, they lose weight – if it is too cold they burn fat to stay warm, and if too hot their appetites decrease. But studies show that people are keeping their houses warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer than they did a few decades ago, so these natural influences on weight are
negated.

The more expensive it becomes to heat and cool houses, people will likely adjust their thermostats accordingly and limit this thermoneutral effect. It is also not unreasonable to assume that a percentage, however small, will find alternative modes of transportation which include walking, bicycles, etc.  Of course after dropping a few pounds we can start focusing on coastal flooding, rampant disease, and widespread extinction.

Advertisements