The science and data strongly support that our planet’s ecosystems are thriving and that humanity is benefiting from modestly increasing temperature and an increase in carbon dioxide. These facts refute the claim that Earth is spiraling into one man-made climate catastrophe after another.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is portrayed as a demon molecule fueling run-away greenhouse warming. If you get your news only from mainstream media, you would likely believe that CO2 levels are dangerously high and unprecedented. You would be wrong. Concentrations of this gas are slightly less than 420 parts-per-million (ppm), or one-sixth the average historic levels of 2,600 ppm for the last 600 million years.
Increases in carbon dioxide in the last 150 years, largely from the burning of fossil fuels, have reversed a dangerous downward trend in the gas’ concentration. During the last glacial period, concentrations nearly reached the “line of death” at 150 parts per million, below which plants die. Viewed in the long-term geologic context, we are actually CO2 impoverished.
The most recent claim from the purveyors of climate catastrophe is that recent temperature increases are “unusual and unprecedented.” However, records indicate that modern warming began more than 300 years ago in the depths of the horrific Little Ice Age. The first 250 years of that warming preceded 20th century CO2 increases and were necessarily 100% naturally driven.
Context is important when reviewing climate and temperature data. Assertions that the last month or year or decade were the “hottest on record” can be true only if your “record” is limited to 150 years or so.
Longer-term data reveal multiple warming periods since the end of the last major ice age 10,000 years ago, each warmer than today. There is a strong correlation between the rise and fall of temperature and the ebb and flow of civilizations. During the last three warm periods dating back 6,000 years to the advent of the first great civilizations, humanity prospered and great empires arose. Intervening cold periods brought crop failure, famine, and mass depopulation. History advises us to welcome warmth and fear cold.
Modestly warming temperature and increasing carbon dioxide lead to longer growing seasons and more productive harvests. The world’s remarkable ability to increase food production year after year is attributable to mechanization, agricultural innovation, CO2 fertilization, and warmer weather. Crop and food production has seen only positive effects from relatively small changes in the global climate.
Contrary to sensational media reports, extreme weather-related deaths in the U.S. have decreased more than 98% over the last 100 years. Twenty times as many people die from cold as from heat, according to a worldwide review of 74 million temperature-related deaths by Dr. Antonio Gasparrini and a team of physicians. Global warming saves lives.
On nearly every key topic, evidence presented in voluminous peer-reviewed studies shows that the “consensus” opinion promoted by climate-apocalypse alarmists is consistently at odds with reality. Rather than a world declining into an inescapable man-made climate hell, Earth’s ecosystems and inhabitants are thriving because of increasing CO2 and rising temperatures not in spite of them.
During this period of increasing CO2 and slight warming, we have seen increasing food production, soil moisture, crop growth, and a “greening” of the Earth. All the while droughts, forest fires, heat waves, and temperature-related deaths have declined substantially. Only the radical worldview of environmental extremists could ignore the benefits of atmospheric changes while embracing harmful economic policies based on failed climate models.
Yes, there is such a thing as the greenhouse effect. Yes, there has been some warming, but it has been minuscule compared to the temperature change all of us experience in the course of a day. Some part of this warming may well have been human-caused. These are matters of widespread agreement. What changes the future holds are hardly certain, but judging from the past, they too will be small.
But no, past and possible future warming does not mean that catastrophe will follow, or that measures to prevent global warming are scientifically and economically justified, or that the American values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should be blamed for the supposed “crisis”—still less that they should be destroyed because of highly questionable science.
• Gregory Wrightstone is the Executive Director of the CO2 Coalition which seeks to engage in an informed, dispassionate discussion of climate change and humans’ role in the climate system. The CO2 Coalition educates thought leaders, policy makers, and the public about the important contributions of carbon dioxide to our lives and the economy.