The Crucial Question That Requires Asking: Is There a Climate Problem?
Mead’s column posted on June 15 begins by sharing a projection that draconian coronavirus lockdown measures will reduce 2020 global CO2 emissions by about the amount that the United Nations Environment Program has determined is supposedly needed annually “if the world is to have any chance of keeping the average temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
Mead then laments that most of these measures “aren’t economically sustainable.” Teleworking adopted during the lockdown may become the norm for many rather than the exception, but “[a] campaign to ‘cut the commute’ globally won’t solve the climate problem.”
But Mead never considers the key question: is there is a “climate problem”? He simply accepts as undeniable scientific truth that keeping the earth’s temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees is necessary to prevent catastrophic harm.
The scientific evidence does not support this proposition. There are speculative, pseudo-scientific projections and models that purport to show that global warming will lead to climate doom. But actual scientific data instead show that global warming has not been harmful and presents no danger to future generations.
First, rather than imperiling human life, the data show that global warming saves lives. A 2015study by 22 scientists from around the world found that cold kills over 17 times more people than heat.
The scientists examined over 74 million deaths in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States in 1985-2012. The data they compiled show that cold caused 7.29 percent of these deaths, while heat caused only 0.42 percent. The data also show that “moderately hot and cold temperatures” caused 88.85 percent of the temperature-related deaths, while “extreme” temperatures caused only 11.15 percent.
Second, the number of natural disaster deaths declined by over 80 percent as the earth’s temperature has been rising. NASA data show that since 1920, the earth’s temperature has risen by 1.25 degrees Celsius. Since 1920, world population also has quadrupled from less than two billion to over seven and half billion. Yet during this period, EM-DAT (The International Disaster Database) data show that the number of people killed by natural disasters has declined from almost 55,000 per year to less than 10,000 per year.
Third, the global air pollution death rate has fallen by almost 50 percent since 1990. University of Oxford economist Max Roser and researcher Hannah Ritchie show in Our World in Data that “since 1990 the number of deaths per 100,000 people have nearly halved,” declining from 111.28 to 63.82.
Fourth, even the Cassandras acknowledge that any impact on the nation’s economy is likely to be minimal. The National Bureau of Economic Research estimated in 2019 that if the earth’s temperature rises by 0.01 degrees Celsius per year through 2100, total U.S. GDP in 2100 will be 1.88 percent lower in 2100 than it would otherwise be.
Yet based on the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate of a 1.4 percent annual real long-term potential labor force productivity growth rate, the nation’s per person GDP will be about 204 percent higher by 2100. With the reduction that NBER estimates based on global warming, GDP per person would be an almost indistinguishable 200 percent higher.
The NBER’s extreme case projection that if the earth’s temperature rises by 0.04 degrees Celsius per year through 2100 (five times the actual rate of increase since 1880), total U.S. GDP will be 10.52 percent lower in 2100 than it would otherwise be, similarly would leave GDP per person about 172 percent higher.
In other words, after taking account of the supposedly harmful impact of global warming, U.S. income per person in 2100 will be about triple today’s level.
Don’t swallow the big lie. Check the data. Global warming has not been harmful and presents no danger to future generations.