Alarmist Spin Muddies the Water

No this isn’t just the usual being-a-little-too-worried-about-methane-feedbacks thing that is this year’s “shutdown of the Gulf Stream”. This is rather worse. It’s the widespread headline

100 million to die by 2030 if world fails to act on climate

¬†Well, lots of people will die regardless. It turns out that this number is not only based on very superficial reasoning, it is also quite deliberately overstated. The text of the article refers more judiciously to a “Carbon-climate crisis”. 84 million deaths will have something to do with fossil-fuel based pollution, and 16 million will be directly climate related. That is, even whether climate change is total bunkum or not, the already accepted death toll from the fossil fuel industry will dominate that from climate change.
The real climate crisis, when continued negligence of the problem would lead to large human mortality, is likely (I hope!) further down the road than 2030. But whether that is true or not, it has nothing to do with the reasoning in the report, which incorrectly conflates combustion-related pollution in the third world with the climate issue.
These scare tactics are laughable, and counterproductive – the claim answers itself. Unfortunately it is necessary for more serious sustainability thinkers to disavow this white paper, since our opponents are celebrating it with glee.
It would be both more honest and more to the point to say that even in the short term there are reasons to get off dirty combustion rather than trying to hang pollution issues on the climate hook.
Tim Worstall’s complaint is also valid in that economist way but that isn’t the same as the complaint I’m making. I agree while perhaps the “Climate Vulnerable” nations may have got what they wanted in this screed, it isn’t actually an honest report and hence not useful input.

Comments:

  1. Pingback: Another Week of GW News, September 30, 2012 – A Few Things Ill Considered

  2. Well that "alarmist" paper The Guardian says there were 400,000 climate deaths last year.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/sep/26/climate-change-damaging-global-economy

    Climate change is already contributing to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people a year and costing the world more than $1.2 trillion, wiping 1.6% annually from global GDP, ...

    The study is from http://daraint.org/


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