In 2004, TheGuardian.com reported a secret Pentagon warning about global warming: “major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a ‘Siberian’ climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.”
In 2008, Al Gore announced that “the entire North ‘polarized’ cap will disappear in five years.”
In 2009, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon declared that “[t]he world has less than 10 years to halt the global rise in greenhouse gas emissions if we are to avoid catastrophic consequences for people and the planet.”
Yet the supposedly authoritative statements of global warming doom continue. In a January 3, 2020 column titled “Apocalypse becomes normal”, Paul Krugman in his usual understated way told us that “[o]n our current trajectory, Florida as a whole will eventually be swallowed by the sea” and “[m]uch of India will eventually become uninhabitable.”
Krugman makes the same mistake as other false prophets of global warming doom. His and their predictions are works of science fiction because, contrary to scientific principles, they ignore the facts about global warming’s actual impact.
The facts instead show that global warming is a non-problem that warrants no action.
First, the earth’s temperature has been rising at a microscopically slow pace. NASA’s data set for global temperatures goes back to 1880 and shows that since that year, the earth’s temperature has risen by only 1.14° C. An increase of 1.14° C over 139 years translates to an average increase of only 0.008° C per year.
Second, a warmer earth saves lives. In 2015, the prestigious medical journal The Lancet reported that worldwide, cold kills over 17 times more people than heat. A group of 22 scientists examined over 74 million deaths in the United States, China, Brazil, and ten other countries in 1985-2012. They found that cold caused 7.29 percent of these deaths, while heat caused only 0.42 percent. And of these temperature-related deaths, “moderately hot and cold temperatures” caused 88.85 percent of the deaths, while “extreme” temperatures caused only 11.15 percent.
Third, while the earth’s temperature has risen, the number of natural disaster deaths has been sharply declining. In 2019, EMDAT, The International Disaster Database, reported that since the 1920s, the number of people killed annually by natural disasters has declined by over 80 percent. And this happened as the world’s population quadrupled from less than two billion to over seven and half billion.
Fourth, the global air pollution death rate has fallen by almost 50 percent since 1990. In 2019, University of Oxford economist Max Roser and researcher Hannah Ritchie reported in Our World in Data that “since 1990 the number of deaths per 100,000 people have nearly halved.”
Fifth, any impact on the economy is likely to be minimal. In 2019, the National Bureau of Economic Research estimated that if the earth’s temperature rises by 0.01° C per year through 2100 – 25 percent faster than it actually has since 1880 – total U.S. GDP in 2100 will be 1.88 percent lower in 2100 than it would otherwise be.
But the Congressional Budget Office in 2019 projected that in 2100, GDP per person will be about 180 percent higher (based on its projection of a 1.3 percent annual real long-term potential labor force productivity growth rate). So even if the reduction that NBER estimates pans out, GDP per person will still be about 178 percent higher.
NBER also made a more extreme projection: if the earth’s temperature rises by 0.04° C per year through 2100, five times the actual rate since 1880, total U.S. GDP will be 10.52 percent lower in 2100 than it would otherwise be. Sounds dramatic. It’s not. This farfetched scenario leaves GDP per person about 170 percent higher.
In other words, per person income in 2100 will be almost triple today’s level, regardless of global warming.
Finally, restricting carbon emissions to attempt to stop global warming is the wrong path – even the most severe restrictions will have almost zero impact on the earth’s temperature. Climatologist Patrick J. Michaels calculated that if the United States eliminated all carbon emissions – which would not only require Americans to give up fossil fuels, but also to stop breathing (to cease exhaling carbon dioxide) – it would only reduce global warming by a negligible 0.052° C by 2050.
Don’t make the same mistake as Krugman and other false prophets of global warming doom. Check the facts. Global warming has not been harmful and presents no danger to future generations.