Let's Be Serious, More C02 Isn't Making the Earth 'Uninhabitable'

Story Stream
recent articles

Former Federal Reserve Board Vice Chairman and Princeton University economist Alan Blinder recently wrote the following in the Wall Street Journal: “cumulative CO2 emissions heat up the atmosphere, causing climate changes of all sorts—most of them bad. Because this huge negative externality has been allowed to run rampant, we are gradually making the Earth an inhospitable place for humans.”

Increasing CO2 emissions have been “making the Earth an inhospitable place for humans?” Really?

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data show that over the last one hundred years, CO2 emissions and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere indeed have both sharply increased. And NASA data show that since 1920, our planet’s temperature has risen by 1.25 degrees Celsius.

But the data also show that the increase in CO2 omissions and the rising temperature have not been “making the Earth an inhospitable place for humans.”

The University of Oxford’s Our World in Data has reported that since 1920, the world population has quadrupled from less than two billion to over seven and half billion.

It also has reported that the share of people living in extreme poverty fell from 74 percent in 1910 to less than 10 percent by 2015.

And EM-DAT (The International Disaster Database) data show that since 1920, the number of people killed by natural disasters has declined from almost 55,000 per year to less than 10,000 per year.

Sustaining a population that has grown by about six billion people, lifting most of those people out of extreme poverty, and reducing the number of natural disaster deaths by over 80 percent show that whatever impacts increasing CO2 emission and atmospheric levels and rising temperatures have, they are not making the planet “an inhospitable place for humans.”
The data instead suggest that increasing CO2 emission and atmospheric levels and rising temperatures are making the planet more, not less, hospitable for human life.

The Heartland Institute has extensively documented “increased plant and forest growth, bigger crop yields and longer growing seasons as benefits derived from rising concentrations of carbon dioxide.”

Better yet, an extensive 2015 study found that cold kills over 17 times more people than heat. Twenty-two scientists from around the world analyzed 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. Cold caused 7.29 percent of these deaths, while heat caused only 0.42 percent. And “moderately hot and cold temperatures” caused 88.85 percent of the temperature-related deaths, while “extreme” temperatures caused only 11.15 percent.

But what about the economic catastrophe that global warming supposedly will cause in coming decades? If future global warming has any negative impact on the nation’s economy, it is likely to be minimal.

The National Bureau of Economic Research estimated in 2019 that if the planet’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.

NBER’s extreme case projection that if the planet’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. Professor Blinder undoubtedly teaches his students that sound science depends on data. When it comes to the impact of increasing CO2 emissions, he needs a refresher course.


David M. Simon is a fellow at the Committee to Unleash Prosperity and a lawyer in Chicago. The views expressed in this article are his own and not those of the law firm with which he is affiliated. For more, please see www.dmswritings.com

Show comments Hide Comments