Bjorn Lomborg, author of Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming, joined FNC’s Tucker Carlson Monday night to talk about how many people really die from climate-related disasters in 2019 compared to how many did in 1919.
TUCKER CARLSON: I keep hearing from watching television in this country that many people are dying of climate change in the United States. Is it a leading cause of death here?
BJORN LOMBERG: No, by no means and, look, we actually have pretty good data for how many people die from weather-related disasters, so climate-related disasters, and the truth is over the last 100 years it’s dropped dramatically. Every year in the 1920s, we estimate about half a million people died around the world. Now, we quadrupled the population and, yet, the number has dropped like a stone. It’s 95% reduced. We are now down to about 20,000 people that die every year. This is not because of global warming. This is simply because getting richer means you stop being in trouble when the weather is bad.
TUCKER CARLSON: So if the problem as measured by death rates is getting better, the threat is in decline, why the focus on it? Why not a focus on cancer or diabetes or Alzheimer’s or suicide or drug ODs? These are all rising.
BJORN LOMBERG: Yes, absolutely. If you ask people around the world, the U.N. did that a couple of years ago. They asked 10 million people, what do you want us to focus on, they told us not surprisingly if you are really poor you worry about healthcare, food, and education. Those were the top things that came out. At the very end, number 16 of 16 priorities, came global warming. Not surprising, if you are poor. But if you are rich and well-meaning, this is one of the things that you can start worrying about. And, look, global warming is a real problem but it’s not anywhere the size of what most people let you believe.
TUCKER CARLSON: So, maybe it’s an easy problem for the richest in our society to focus on because it doesn’t really require anything of them. They can still fly private and have four houses and be deeply concerned about this problem. Maybe that’s why they have chosen it.
BJORN LOMBERG: Well, I think it certainly gives a lot of people a sense of, ‘I’m really trying to do something good. Oh, I have cut down. I’m no longer eating meat,’ or something like that. The reality, of course, is if you really wanted to cut carbon emissions dramatically as many people talk about, you would have to experience a cost that would be much, much higher. If you take, for instance, the Green New Deal, Bloomberg estimates, and this is just one of many estimates that it would cost every year about $2.1 trillion, that’s two-thirds of the U.S. budget. So, no, we can’t afford that even if you did, the impact would be fairly small in 100 years. It would be a very small and inefficient way of helping people very little.
TUCKER CARLSON: Okay. So assuming this is about helping people and I don’t believe that it’s clearly about grabbing power. Let’s pretend it’s about helping people. In the name of helping them, you would probably wind up killing more than you would save because poverty does kill people. We know that.
BJORN LOMBERG: Exactly. What you have to be very careful about is to say, how do you go and help people, for instance in Bangladesh and other places? Well, a lot of people will say we need to cut carbon emissions so that they will have less of a problem in 100 years. Of course, the reality is most people in Bangladesh want to get out of poverty. We should help them by having more free trade, having more opportunity, having more technology. Those are the things that will make them much richer so that when 2100 comes around they will not only be better able to tackle global warming, but also all the other challenges: Alzheimer’s, cancer, all the other problems you were talking about.
TUCKER CARLSON: So you’re a man that talks about science, who is fluent in the terms of science. How do you feel when you start hearing politicians discuss scientific issues with theological terms. Talking about the morality of your society, and making claims to their own virtue? Does that make you uncomfortable?
BJORN LOMBERG: Well, I’m an economist, actually, so I look at all what the scientists are telling us. They are telling us global warming is a problem, but it’s also a moderate one. They tell us by the end of the century, global warming will cost somewhere between 2% and 4% global G.D.P.
Remember, by then, we will be about 10 times richer per person. So, about 1,000% richer and then we have to pay 2% to 4%. That’s a problem. Not the end of the world. When politicians go out and tell us we have got to go morally do something that’s really nice, cutting off meat, or not driving your car, or something, in order to pacify this problem, they are simply talking against the better opportunity of actually dealing with this problem. Because that’s not going to happen. You can’t tell people to do this.
What you need to do is focus on technology. Well, Americans and everyone, have had many problems in the past. We have not solved those problems by telling people, could you please do with less? What we have done is through technology, enabled people to do more with less. Actually enabled people to be better off with technology. This is all about innovation. We need to innovate the price of green energy down below fossil fuels. And then, of course, everyone, not just rich and well-meaning Americans and Europeans, but the Chinese and Indians will want to switch.