Lomborg: In other words, up to 12 percent of the entire area of the state — had its modern boundaries existed in the 18th century — burned every year. Old newspapers across the country were filled with descriptions of terrible fires. Back then, “skies were likely smoky much of the summer and fall in California,” as one academic paper noted. Elsewhere in the country in 1781, “the smoke was so dense that many persons thought the day of judgment had come,” The New York Times reported a century later. This all changed after 1900, when fire suppression became the norm, and fire declined precipitously. In the last half of the 20th century, only about 250,000 acres burned annually. Clearly, then, we used to have much more fire before global warming. Even this year’s record-breaking 2.3 million burnt acres is about half the lower end of a typical year in earlier times...
Californian fires are slowly coming back to their prehistoric state because of the enormous excess fuel load. Putting up solar panels and using biofuels will be costly but do virtually nothing to fix this problem. Prescribed burns will. What we choose depends on the information we get.
Bjorn Lomborg: 'Sadly, accurate science doesn’t make for good television; predicting the end of times does.'
But even this report revealed: “Drought statistics over the entire contiguous US have declined,” the report finds, reminding us that “the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s remains the benchmark drought and extreme heat event.”
Report also found: On flooding, the assessment accepts the IPCC’s finding, which “did not attribute changes in flooding to anthropogenic [human] influence nor report detectable changes in flooding magnitude, duration or frequency.”
CNN’s headline, screaming that “climate change will shrink [US] economy” by 10 percent, a figure also repeated on The New York Times front page. Actually, the UN’s climate scenarios envision US GDP per capita will more than triple by the end of this century, so this 10 percent reduction would come from an economy 300 percent larger than it is today....So, even a 5 percent reduction in the size of the American economy only follows from picking unlikely worst-case scenarios.
The well-reported idea that warming will shrink the economy by 10 percent disregards huge economic growth, assumes twice the damages of the worst-case temperatures the report itself expects and even then only finds such high costs stemming almost exclusively from easily preventable heat deaths.
Conjecturing that the temperature-mortality relationship in the US would remain constant over a century is ludicrous.
Climate change has been blamed for a dizzying array of absurd woes, from the dwindling number of customers at Bulgarian brothels to the death of the Loch Ness monster. Most of us can see through these silly headlines, but it’s far harder to parse the more serious claims when they’re repeated in good faith by well-meaning campaigners.
Consider the recent assertion by Unicef’s Bangladesh head of mission that climate change leads to an increase in child marriages. Between 2011 and 2020 globally, more than 140 million girls under the age of 18 will become brides, leading to curtailed education and reduced lifetime earnings, more domestic violence, more deaths from complications due to pregnancy and increased mortality for the young brides’ children. By all accounts, child marriage must be taken seriously. In Bangladesh, nearly 75% of women between the ages of 20 and 49 reported that they were married before they turned 18, giving the country the second-highest rate of child marriage in the world. As the Unicef head tells it, climate change has been a major cause, as warmer weather has worsened the flooding, pushing people to the cities, leading to more child marriages. This entire string of logic is wrong. The frequency of extreme floods in Bangladesh has increased, it’s true, but studies show their magnitude and duration have in fact decreased. And Bangladesh is far better at adapting today than it was a generation ago. In 1974, a flood killed 29,000 people and cost 7.5% of the country’s gross domestic product. A slightly larger flood in 2004 killed 761 people and cost 3.3% of GDP.