With many world issues to be concerned about, politicians and the media are predicting the end of the Earth because of global warming. Yes, climate change is real, but predictions of Earth’s demise are highly exaggerated.
U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez received widespread media coverage as she predicted the end of humanity would happen within 12 years. Politicians today continue to scream that the end of the Earth is near. The media quoted our current administration with these words: “The world is facing a grave emergency…Every week brings new climate-related devastation. Floods. Drought. Heat waves. Wildfires, Superstorms … We are in a battle for our lives … Climate change is the biggest threat to the global economy.”
There is no question that we need to take steps to improve our planet, but predictions of Earth’s demise are highly exaggerated. The prophets of doom are not only inaccurate, but they are unsettling. Consider the following facts which you won’t see in most of the media:
1. The number of hurricanes annually making landfall in the U.S. has declined since 1900. That is also true for major hurricanes – category three and above. The second-lowest recorded year was 2022.
2. The wildfires in Australia in 2019 and 2020 were close to Sydney and Melbourne, where the major news organizations are, so the coverage was exaggerated. The total number of fires in Australia as a whole was one of the lowest levels on record. The amount of burned areas over the entire planet has dramatically declined over the past 25 years.
3. In the 1920s, roughly 500,000 people died annually due to climate. That number has been dropping to approximately 11,000 people in 2022.
4. In 1890, renewable sources produced 94% of the world’s energy (mostly wood). In 2021, 16% of the world’s energy was from renewable sources.
5. Unlike the politicians’ proposal of net zero by 2050, the most optimistic model suggests we could reach 95%. However, the cost would be roughly $11,000 per person per year.
6. Yale climate economist William Nordhaus received the Nobel Prize in economics in 2018 for his studies comparing the cost of climate change and climate policy. He showed that restricting the average world temperature to a 6.75 degrees Fahrenheit rise, instead of the 7.4 degrees that it will rise if we do nothing, would cost 20 trillion dollars. Limiting the increase to 5.3 degrees would cost about 100 trillion dollars.
The bottom line is that the media and the politicians are exaggerating the long-term effects of climate change and underestimating the economic cost of climate policy. Motivating people to do something is good, but we must consider the cost and apply innovation to do the job efficiently.
God created a resilient Earth, and we must recognize the challenges and be good stewards of God’s gifts. All the hand-wringing of the media and the politicians accomplishes very little. Predictions of Earth’s demise are highly exaggerated.
— John N. Clayton © 2023
Reference: “Thinking Smartly About Climate Change” by Bjorn Lomborg in Imprimis for April/May 2023, Volume 52, Number 4/5.