Climate change is no worse than diabetes, so why all the fuss?

September 27, 2019

 

Call me a benighted sceptic, but I’m not yet convinced that global warming is really going to carry on heating up the planet as much as most (though not all) climate scientists say it is, and that the recent warming isn’t part of some more ordinary climate cycle following on from the ‘little ice age’ or similar. 

 

But let’s give the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) the benefit of the doubt and go along with its predictions for a warming climate. What is the prognosis? 

 

Tom Chivers on UnHerd has taken a look at the forecasts produced by the United Nations and other mainstream bodies and his findings are revealing.

 

The World Health Organisation, for instance, has predicted that the result of climate change will be around 250,000 additional deaths each year up to 2050. The Climate Impact Lab, less conservatively, puts that figure at around 1.5 million extra deaths each year up to 2100. 

 

That may sound a lot. But as Chivers notes, in fact it’s fewer than result from diabetes, and almost half of what result from obesity. In other words, certainly regrettable, but hardly cataclysmic. 

 

Furthermore, while poorer countries will be worst affected, they will still be better off than they are now because of continued economic growth and technological improvement.

 

So it’s a matter of things improving more slowly for them (and for all of us) rather than actually getting worse. 

 

 

On the other hand, what would be the impact of the drastic measures required to reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, of the kind the government has recently signed us up to, and Labour voted this week to make even more extreme?

 

It’s hard to say, but given that economic growth in developing countries is one of the main drivers of both emissions and improving living standards, there’s obviously going to be a big trade off. 

 

Given, then, the relatively small anticipated impact of climate change on human life expectancy, is all this costly greenery really worth it? Why not just adapt and mitigate? 

 

And that’s if you accept the IPCC’s predictions. If, like Ole Humlum, you think it’s all somewhat exaggerated anyway, then things start to look even rosier.

 

There are I am sure some sensible things humans can do to improve the sustainability of our habitation of the planet. But, even on the basis of the alarmists’ own predictions, drastically reducing carbon dioxide emissions isn’t one of them.

 

Isn’t it time the alarmists – not least the hierarchy of the Church of England and Roman Catholic Church – paid closer attention to the science and got a sense of proportion?

 

(Dr Will Jones is a maths graduate with a PhD in political philosophy and author of Evangelical Social Theology: Past and Present [Grove, 2017]. He blogs at Faith and Politics)

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