No need to panic on climate change | Robesonian
No need to panic on climate change The Robesonian
Climate Alarmism and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
As surely as temperatures rise during the summer, climate alarmism serves up more stories of life-threatening heat domes, apocalyptic fires and biblical floods, all blamed squarely on global warming. Yet, the data to prove this link is often cherry-picked, and the proposed policy responses could be more effective.
The Impact of Global Warming on Temperature-Driven Deaths
Heat waves are clearly made worse by global warming. But saturation-level media coverage of high temperatures in summertime fails to tell the bigger story: Temperature-driven deaths are overwhelmingly caused by cold.
Globally, a recent Lancet study found 4.5 million cold deaths, nine times more than global heat deaths. The study also finds that temperatures increasing half a degree Celsius in the first two decades of this century have caused an additional 116,000 heat deaths annually. But warmer temperatures now also avoid 283,000 cold deaths annually. Reporting only on the former leaves us badly informed.
The Ineffectiveness of Carbon-Cutting Policies
Across the world, governments have promised to achieve “net zero” carbon emissions at a cost beyond $5.6 trillion annually. Scared populations will, of course, be more likely to clamor for the perceived safety of such policies. But these policies help tackle heat and cold deaths very poorly.
Even if all the world’s ambitious carbon-cutting promises were magically enacted, these policies would only slow future warming. Stronger heat waves would still kill more people, just slightly fewer than they would have. A sensible response would focus first on resilience, meaning more air conditioning and cooler cities through greenery and water features. After 2003’s heat waves, France’s rational reforms that included mandatory air conditioning in care homes reduced heat deaths 10-fold despite higher temperatures.
Avoiding both cold and heat deaths requires affordable energy access. In the United States, cheaper gas from fracking allowed millions with low budgets to keep warm, saving 12,500 lives yearly. Climate policy, which inevitably makes the most energy more expensive, achieves the opposite.
The Reality of Global Wildfires
Along with temperature spikes, alarming images of forest fires share the front pages this summer. You’d quickly get the sense that the planet is on fire. The reality is that since NASA satellites started accurately recording fires across the planet’s entire surface two decades ago, there has been a strong downward trend. In the early 2000s, 3% of the world’s land area burned annually. Last year, fire burned 2.2% of the world’s land area, a record low. Yet, you would struggle to find that reported anywhere.
Fires have burned much more in the Americas this year than over the past decade. This has constantly been reported. But fires have burned much less in Africa and Europe compared to the last decade. Cumulatively to Aug. 12, the Global Wildfire Information System shows that the world has actually burned less than the average over the previous decade.
While the media constantly focuses on Greece, which has burned much more, it omits to report that most of Europe has burned much less. Indeed, by Aug. 12, Europe has cumulatively burned less than it has at the same time in any of the last 10 years. This has scarcely been reported.
The Misleading Attribution of Floods to Global Warming
Floods are similarly routinely ascribed to global warming. However, the United Nations Climate Panel’s latest report has “low confidence in general statements to attribute changes in flood events to anthropogenic climate change.” The experts emphasize that neither river nor coastal floods are statistically detectable from the background noise of natural climate variability. Indeed, the U.N. panel finds that such floods won’t be statistically detectable by the end of the century, even under an extreme scenario.
In the United States, flood damage cost 0.5% of gross domestic product in the early 1900s. Now, it costs only one-tenth of that because greater resiliency and development vastly outweigh any residual climate signal.
The Realistic Approach to Climate Change
While climate alarmism reaches new heights of scariness — with the U.N. secretary general’s “global boiling” claims entering ridiculous territory — the reality is more prosaic. Global warming will cause costs equivalent to one or two recessions over the rest of this century. That makes it a real problem, not an end-of-the-world catastrophe that justifies the costliest policies.
The commonsense response would be recognizing that both climate change and carbon-cutting policies incur costs. We should carefully negotiate a middle pathway where we aim for effective approaches that do the most to reduce damages at a reasonable cost.
To do better on climate, we must resist the misleading, alarmist climate narrative. Panic is a terrible adviser.
Bjorn Lomborg is the president of the Copenhagen Consensus and a visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He wrote this for InsideSources.com.
SDGs, Targets, and Indicators
|SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being||Target 3.9: By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination||Indicator: Number of deaths caused by extreme temperatures (heat and cold)|
|SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy||Target 7.1: By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services||Indicator: Access to affordable energy for heating and cooling|
|SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities||Target 11.7: By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive, and accessible, green, and public spaces, particularly for women and children, older persons, and persons with disabilities||Indicator: Presence of greenery and water features in cities|
|SDG 13: Climate Action||Target 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries||Indicator: Number of heat deaths in care homes before and after implementing mandatory air conditioning|
|SDG 15: Life on Land||Target 15.1: By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains, and drylands||Indicator: Percentage of land area burned by wildfires|
|SDG 13: Climate Action||Target 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning||Indicator: Changes in flood events attributed to anthropogenic climate change|
|SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth||Target 8.10: Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance, and financial services for all||Indicator: Economic cost of flood damage as a percentage of gross domestic product|
1. Which SDGs are addressed or connected to the issues highlighted in the article?
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being
The article discusses the impact of extreme temperatures on human health, highlighting that cold temperatures cause more deaths globally than heat. This connects to SDG 3, which aims to ensure good health and well-being for all.
SDG 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
The article mentions the importance of affordable energy access for both heating and cooling to prevent cold and heat deaths. This aligns with SDG 7, which focuses on ensuring universal access to affordable and clean energy.
SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
The article emphasizes the need for cooler cities through greenery and water features to mitigate the impact of heat waves. This relates to SDG 11, which aims to create sustainable cities and communities, including safe and inclusive public spaces.
SDG 13: Climate Action
The article discusses the need for resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards, such as heat waves, wildfires, and floods. This aligns with SDG 13, which focuses on taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
SDG 15: Life on Land
The article mentions the trend of decreasing land area burned by wildfires globally, highlighting the importance of conservation and sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems. This connects to SDG 15, which aims to protect, restore, and sustainably manage terrestrial ecosystems.
SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
The article mentions the economic cost of flood damage as a percentage of gross domestic product, indicating the impact on economic growth. This relates to SDG 8, which focuses on promoting sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth.
2. What specific targets under those SDGs can be identified based on the article’s content?
Target 3.9: By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination
The article highlights the need to address temperature-driven deaths caused by extreme cold and heat. By reducing these deaths, progress can be made towards achieving Target 3.9 under SDG 3.
Target 7.1: By 2030, ensure universal access to affordable, reliable, and modern energy services
The article emphasizes the importance of affordable energy access for heating and cooling to prevent cold and heat deaths. Achieving universal access to affordable energy aligns with Target 7.1 under SDG 7.
Target 11.7: By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive, and accessible, green, and public spaces, particularly for women and children, older persons, and persons with disabilities
The article suggests creating cooler cities through greenery and water features to mitigate the impact of heat waves. This aligns with Target 11.7 under SDG 11, which aims to provide universal access to safe and inclusive green spaces.
Target 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries
The article emphasizes the need for resilience to extreme temperatures, wildfires, and floods. Strengthening resilience aligns with Target 13.1 under SDG 13, which focuses on building resilience to climate-related hazards.
Target 15.1: By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration, and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains, and drylands
The article mentions the decreasing trend of land area burned by wildfires globally, highlighting the importance of conserving terrestrial ecosystems. This connects to Target 15.1 under SDG 15, which aims to protect and restore terrestrial ecosystems.
Target 8.10: Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions to encourage and expand access to banking, insurance, and financial services for all
The article mentions the economic cost of flood damage as a percentage of gross domestic product. Strengthening the capacity of financial
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