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A data scientist’s case for ‘cautious optimism’ about climate change

Posted on 1 April 2024 by Guest Author

This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Michael Svoboda

Against the regular drumbeat of negative news on climate and the environment, a positive note can be both startling and therapeutic. To keep pressing forward, we need to know that progress has been — and still can be — made.

That’s the motivation behind “Not the End of the World: How We Can Be the First Generation to Build a Sustainable Planet” by Hannah Ritchie, a senior researcher in the Oxford Martin Programme on Global Development and deputy editor and lead researcher for the influential website, Our World in Data

Not the End of the World

In this undertaking, Hannah Ritchie was inspired by another researcher, Hans Rosling, whose data visualizations have awed viewers of his TED talks and instructional videos. Dramatic progress has been made over the last century, the data shows; human beings are less vulnerable now than in the past — even to natural disasters.

“Not the End of the World” and its author have been the subject of numerous interviews and profiles, both congratulatory and critical. The latter point out that small steps in the right direction will not get us where we need to go by the deadlines we’ve set for ourselves.  

But in her book, Ritchie challenges the framing of such thresholds and deadlines. 

First, she notes, we must remind ourselves that dramatic progress has already been made: “In a world without climate policies we’d be heading toward 4 or 5 C at least,” referring to the rise in Earth’s average temperature since the Industrial Revolution. 

Second, “every 0.1 C matters”; the warmer it gets, the worse the impacts, she says. At the Paris climate conference in 2015, the world’s nations agreed to keep temperatures “well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius.” Like other researchers, Ritchie thinks we’re unlikely to meet the 1.5 C goal: “It’s more likely than not that we will pass 2 C, but perhaps not by much.” But neither number is a threshold for the end of the world, she argues. 

Third, some of the small steps critics have challenged — like peak per capita CO2 emissions or the decoupling of emissions and economic growth — mark historic global turning points. Transitioning to clean energy (including nuclear), electrifying everything we can (especially cars), and “decarbonizing how we make stuff” — all among the many measures for which Ritchie advocates in her chapter on climate change — will be easier on the downsides of those slopes. 

Unlike lukewarmers like Danish author Bjørn Lomborg, who acknowledges climate change but argues we should focus on economic growth so that our richer descendants can solve the problem, Ritchie thinks her generation has that responsibility. “My perspective is very different: We have really good solutions now. They’re cheap, they’re effective. We really need to build on them — now.”

Yale Climate Connections talked with Hannah Ritchie about her new book via Zoom last month. 

The following transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Yale Climate Connections: Your title and subtitle seem to move in two very different directions.“Not the End of the World” is a shorthand way of saying, “Don’t worry about it.” But “How We Can Be the First Generation to Build a Sustainable Planet” is a call for action. How do you harmonize those two very different notes?

Hannah Ritchie: Yes, I guess there [are] two ways you can say “not the end of the world.” One way is kind of dismissive: ‘This is not a problem, don’t worry about it.’ 

That’s very, very far from my position. 

What I mean is an affirmative: No, we will not let this be the end of the world. These are big problems, but we can tackle them — and be the first generation to build a sustainable planet.

YCC: You bring your own experiences into the book. Could you talk about your personal journey to this understanding?

Ritchie: I grew up with climate change. It seemed to always be on my radar. But back then, climate change didn’t get the coverage that it does today. So I felt very alone as a kid, feeling this impending doom and not really having anyone to talk to about it. Then I went to university where I did environmental geoscience, and then I got a PhD. I was so steeped in environmental metrics about how things were just getting worse and worse that I reached this stage of helplessness. I extrapolated that human metrics, too, were also getting worse: Poverty was rising, child mortality was rising, life expectancy was declining. Everything, I felt, was going in the wrong direction. 

The turning point for me was discovering the work of Hans Rosling. What he showed in his talks is that when you step back to look at the data, many of our conceptions about human progress are upside down. All of the metrics I assumed to be getting worse were actually getting much better. That shifted my perspective. 

Our ancestors had lower environmental impacts, but their quality of life was often poor. Over the last couple of centuries that has tipped the other way. Humans have made progress, but it’s come at the cost of the environment. This led me to ask, is there a realistic way we can achieve both of these things at the same time? 

I should say that a decade ago, my answer to that was no. But that’s shifted a lot over the last 10 years. I can see signs for cautious optimism: There are solutions to our problems, and we are actually starting to implement them.

YCC: You have seven chapters in your book — on air pollution, climate change, deforestation, food, biodiversity, ocean plastics, and overfishing. Each chapter follows a pattern, almost a template. Could you talk about the steps you take your readers through, steps that hearken back to your title and subtitle? 

Ritchie: I should say, first, that trying to distill a whole environmental problem into one chapter is very challenging. I could have written a whole book on any one of them. 

The goal in each chapter is to show how we got to where we are now and to point to where we can go from here. So every chapter starts with an alarming headline. Then I ask, what does the data and research actually tell us about that headline? Then I map out the historical trajectory of how we got to where we are. 

Climate change, for example, is primarily the result of burning fossil fuels for energy.  Mapping out where we are today requires looking at where those fuels were burned. And that leads to countries, to historical contributions, and to sectors of the economy. 

Then we need to look at future trajectories. What emissions path are we on? What temperature change would that lead to? And what are the pathways that might undercut that? 

The final step is to ask what we need to do next. And for climate change, that’s looking at how we move away from fossil fuels to clean energy. Are the solutions actually there? Are they cheap enough? 

YCC: At the end of each chapter, you also address the individual and say, in effect: Here are things you maybe don’t need to worry about so much. And here are things you could do if you really want to take action.

Ritchie: I want the book to empower people to make changes that are effective. Many people want to make a difference; they just don’t know what to do or are bombarded with so many suggestions that they become overwhelmed. We need to focus on the big stuff and spend less time and energy on things that don’t make much difference.

YCC: Can you give an example of a common misperception on what actually makes a difference? 

Ritchie: If you ask people, ‘What’s the most effective thing you can do for climate change?’ they’ll mention stuff like recycling. But recycling is just so small. More people are now seeing the importance of moving away from cars, especially gasoline-powered cars, but they really don’t get the importance of diet. 

Read: A big source of carbon pollution is lurking in basements and attics

YCC: Speaking of the importance of diet, several chapters in your book look at the critical interconnections between diet, land, energy, climate, and biodiversity. Could you lay that out in greater detail? 

Ritchie: People don’t understand how environmentally damaging our food systems are. We’re not going to tackle climate change by only focusing on food, but it’s impossible to solve climate change without focusing on it to some extent. And it goes far beyond that. For most of our environmental problems, agriculture is a leading driver. It’s a leading driver of land use, deforestation, biodiversity loss, water pollution, and water stress. 

Our food and agriculture systems are key to all of these challenges, which as you say are very much interconnected. 

YCC: In your chapter on biodiversity, you seem to acknowledge but you don’t name the “environmentalist’s paradox,” the strange fact that measures of human well-being have improved even as the environment has come under greater and greater stress. What does the newest data say to you here? 

Ritchie: The chapter on biodiversity was arguably the hardest chapter to write, for two reasons. One is that it’s very hard to measure biodiversity. Ecosystems are so complex that trying to capture their condition in a single metric doesn’t really work. 

The other challenge is that while it’s very clear that humans rely on biodiversity for maintaining the ecosystems on which we depend, we don’t quite know how those systems work. If we tamper with them, will it have a small impact? Or will it cascade into a really big impact? 

The other factor that makes biodiversity the most challenging problem to tackle is that it’s linked to everything else. You can only solve biodiversity by solving all of the other problems discussed in the book. And even then, there are trade-offs. 

In agriculture, for example, there’s the debate over land sharing versus land sparing. We can avoid habitat loss by not letting farmers and ranchers creep into forests and wildlands. But that’s typically achieved only through agricultural intensification, which can be worse for local biodiversity. 

I think it will be very difficult to eliminate biodiversity loss entirely, but I do think we can dramatically reduce rates of loss — by addressing our food systems and agriculture.

YCC: Each of your other chapters seems to be aimed at retuning our thinking. So how do we need to retune our thinking about ocean plastics?

Ritchie: There are two problems with plastics. One is plastic as a material in itself, and here I’m thinking about microplastics. We know that microplastics are everywhere. We just don’t know yet what impacts they have on human health. If we want to stop using plastics completely because of that, I don’t have a solution to that. 

But the second problem is a very tractable problem, which is plastics leaking out into the environment, into rivers, into the ocean. That problem is less about using plastic than disposing of it. It’s more about how you handle the waste. There is a very good case that if we just built really tight landfills, we wouldn’t have plastic leaking out into the environment. 

The challenge has been that many countries have grown very quickly. People can now afford plastic, so they buy plastics. But the waste management infrastructure is not there to gather it, so it leaks into rivers and then ultimately into the ocean. If we just invest in good waste management, then it’s essentially a solved problem. 

Listen: The plastics industry’s carbon footprint has doubled in the past few decades

YCC: In your conclusion, you note that we may have to recalibrate our intuitions about our actions, and that “being an effective environmentalist might make you feel like a bad one.” Could you explain what you mean by that?

Ritchie: Our social perception of “environmentalists” leans into a kind of natural fallacy: they live in a rural area; they have a small farm they get all of their food from; they don’t use synthetic products. 

The problem with this vision is that solutions that might have been environmentally sustainable for small populations just don’t work for 8 billion people. What would work for billions and billions of people, and actually is the more environmentally sustainable thing to do, is dense cities where you don’t need lots of transport, where you can share heating and cooling and achieve other efficiencies. 

Part of the reason that the 21st century has been more resilient and less deadly than the 20th century is because of a more globalized system. We can trade food and other resources; countries support one another post-disaster. Previously if there was a local weather disaster and your crops failed, you were in a really dire position. No one was coming to help you. There was no network for you to import food from elsewhere. That’s not the case today; international cooperation has made the world more resilient, not less.

So what we typically perceive to be the environmentally friendly thing to do is, in a modern world of billions of people, often the opposite.

YCC: Human psychology is a thread that runs through your whole book. You note our penchant for apocalypticism, our nostalgic visions of the past, and our susceptibility to moral licensing. Do you see your book as a psychological intervention?

Ritchie: I think that would be a bold ambition on my part! 

But it’s valid, I guess, to suggest that my book is trying to shift the way that people think about these problems and their solutions.

The key is not stopping our natural psychological leanings — because it’s not possible to halt them completely. It’s about pausing and trying to put those initial gut reactions into context, so we can then make better decisions from a more rational place. 

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Comments 1 to 50 out of 57:

  1.  There should be a proper cost benefit analysis. What are the risks of climate change? Not vague unspecified assertions. We have had 28 Cops during that time deaths from weather disasters have continued to decline and are now over 95% lower than they were 100 years ago. Climate change is not the only problem in the world - If we spend trillions on trying to change the weather - we might not succeed - and we will not be spending trillions on something else which will save lives.
    Will spending trillions on trying to change the weather save many lives? Sincere people recognise the danger of not focusing on things that can save lives.

     They also recognise the dangers of depriving people of cheap reliable energy. We desperately need honest open-minded people of good will .

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  2. The cost benefit has been done.  It has been determined that if we switch to all renewable energy it will cost much less for energy than if we continue using fossil fuels.  The linked article finds for the USA that renewable energy will cost $993 billion per year in 2050 while fossiil fuels will cost $2,513 billion per year for energy alone.  When you add in the health costs (millions of people die every from fossil pollution) and the climate costs the fossil energy costs $6,791 billion per year while renewable costs are unchanged.  The question is why do you want people to spend so much more for fossil energy when it costs 7 times the renewable energy cost and so many people die every year from the pollution?

    The IEA reports that in 2022 83% of all new buiild power in the world was renewable energy (primarily wind and solar).  These generating stations are being built because they are the cheapest power in the world.  Since both wind and solar get cheaper every year, you are advocating spending much more money on more expensive fossil power.

    These homeowners in Massachusetts wasted $600,000 building sand dunes to protect their homes from sea level rise.  There are trillions of dollars of homes in the USA alone that are threatened with distruction from sea level rise alone.  When you add in the stronger hurricanes and other storms, drought starving South Africa and other places and unprecedented firestorms worldwide already causing trillions of dollars of damage and you want to just let it get worse instead of trying to staunch the bleeding?  Talk about penny wise and pound foolish!!  

    From Politico today:

    Property insurers see escalating losses from climate disasters
    Wildfires, floods, droughts and other "secondary perils" are becoming more frequent — and costing insurers more money.

    I guess you don't read the newspaper.

    I note that peak oil is near.  The USA fracking craze is ending.  The best plays have all been tapped out and the older wells are rapidly slowing down.  All the easy, quality coal has been mined.  In 20 years there will not be enough fossil energy for the world even if we drill baby drill.  How old are you that you think you don't require renewable energy which will be around forever instead of fossil fuels which are already running out.

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  3. William @1 :

    William, you are being illogical in your objections  ~ illogical because (a) you are avoiding looking at the big picture . . . where "weather disaster deaths"  are only a very small part of assessing the ongoing problem of rapid global warming

    .... and (b) because you are handicapping yourself by using emotive and very poorly defined terms such as "emergency".   Emergency??  ~ "How dare you" . . . speak like Greta Thunberg  ;-)

    IMO the two biggest threats (from AGW) are the longer-term ones ~ more frequent bigger/longer heat waves affecting crops & humans . . . and rising sea-level over the next 100 years.   Both will cause a massive refugee problem, measured in 100's of millions of desperate migrants, with resultant huge social disruption in the "receiving" countries.  And huge dollar costs, too.

    As Michael Sweet points out, climate consequences produce $ costs in the billions & trillions.  William, you seem to be forgetting that these $ costs will be occurring on both sides of the ledger.  Not just on one side.

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    Moderator Response:

    [BL] Note that at least part of Eclectic's comment is most likely addressing another comment from William on a previous thread. On that other thread, William is dismissing climate issues because not enough people are dead yet.

  4. Eclectic 3,
    Yes there are and most ;likley will be more heatwaves - but there are also fewer cold waves. Cold kills more than heat, so there has been a net reduction in direct weather deaths. Ignoring the ( larger number ) of cold deaths averted is similar to an anti vaxxer only focussing on the side effects of vaccines.
    There is relatively quite a lot of time to deal with rising sea levels should it be needed .
    I am not dismissing everything you say , climate change could of course become a significant problem - but it could not. My concern is : a lot of people one side of the debate , will never recognise it is not the problem they say it is.
    Deaths from weather related disaster could be 9.99995% down - and it would make no difference . they will always say - but in the future....they might rise. saying something could happen in the future is of course unfalsifiable.
    We should recognise that over the last 40 years - a lot/most/all of the doomsday predictions have not occurred. Crop yields have improved, disasters deaths are down, direct weather deaths are down.
    How many years more of benign outcomes would it take for you or others to change their mind - or at least consider the crisis was overhyped.
    I am open minded , I think we should take precautionary action - but for the most part it should be of dual benefit, cutting pollution at the same time - and also a cost benefit analysis and feasibility study should be done. Net Zero is an arbitrary target - that does not take anything else into account. Governments will not achieve it , because it is too expensive and the people will not put up with the economic pain it could bring.


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  5. Michael ",

    The cost of Net Zero is estimated by the OBR to be £1,4 trillion in the UK alone. There is a reason why a lot of goverments are scaling back their green commitments . 

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  6. William @4 , @5 :

    William, you are again failing to think logically.

    The people of the Global North are fairly well accustomed to deal with the cold.  ( Even in harsh Greenland during the Medieval Warm Period, the farmers kept their cattle in the barn for 5 months of the year.  Later, a 0.5 degreeC temperature cooling did not cause their societal collapse ~ that collapse was due to socio-economic changes.)

    The coming problems of further global warming do affect the people of the impoverished "South".   The poor cannot afford house airconditioning ~ even if the national electricity prices were halved.  And airconditioned barns . . . are a fantasy.  Like the idea of solar panels for barn coolers.  And most of the poorest are a long, long way from (expensive) transmission lines.

    Yes, agricultural scientists have done some good work in breeding for more heat-resistant staple crops.  But nature imposes genetic limits, and there is no Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card to ultimately save the day.

    And the increasing sea level rise will also contribute to mass migrations.  Think of "border crises" and demagogues ranting against them thar furriners.  It will get a lot uglier than now.

    William, you are intelligent enough to know all this.  Please put aside your Motivated Reasoning, and skip past all the Denial, Anger, and Bargaining (and the Depression stage, too) . . . and move on to the Acceptance that real action needs to be taken against AGW.

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  7. William:

    You say "The cost of Net Zero is estimated by the OBR to be £1,4 trillion in the UK alone."  and you get all your fossil fuels for free????  In the USA we have to pay for gasoline and other fossil fuels.  This is a completely absurd argument.  You are arguing that a Tesla model 3 is too expensive so you have to buy the $1,000,000 Ferrari.  You have to compare the cost of both sides to see which is cheaper. 

    When the cost of both renewable energy and fossil fuels are measured the renewable energy system is cheaper.  Renewable energy saved the EU tens of billions of dollars during the recent energy crisis 

    In any case, fossil fuels are running out.  We have to start building out renewable fuels or there will not be enough energy to power the economy.

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    Surely instead of spending trillions trying to change the weather - it would be better to give the poor air conditioning.
    110f with air conditioning is much better than 108f with no air conditioning.
    The real action toy want will cost trillions - and as the movement always says only real significant action will make any difference to temperatures .

    Much better to spend the money on adaption, if and when we need it. It should also be noted everything is based on predictions ,modelling and projections., We could have had the same conversation 40 years ago - we could have the same one in 40 years.
    I will say - none of it happened - and you will say it will in the future.
    Mankind has always been useless at predicting the future - we have not learnt from Thomas Malthus - interesting people are still saying - yes his predictions were very wrong - but one day.....

    Surely there must be some part of you that thinks maybe it has been overhyped. There may be bigger problems - that we should spend our time and money on. Or are you absolutely certain catastrophe awaits unless we take drastic action?

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  9.   Michael,
    The £1.4trl ( likely an underestimate ) is amongst other things the cost of changing the grid.

    As you also know ( without going into the whole thing ) renewables are intermittent you need fossil fuel or nuclear back up. So you pay twice.
    Hopefully there will be a cheaper and cleaner alternative to fossil fuels , pretending renewables are - helps no one. They are part of the mix and a welcome one - but they are not a replacement

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  10. 8

    * interestingly 

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  11. Regarding heat deaths vs cold deaths, RealClimate had a post on that a few years ago:

    Will climate change bring benefits from reduced cold-related mortality? Insights from the latest epidemiological research

    From the introduction:

    Climate skeptics sometimes like to claim that although global warming will lead to more deaths from heat, it will overall save lives due to fewer deaths from cold. But is this true? Epidemiological studies suggest the opposite.

    As for William's latest @8, once again William simply does not accept the extensive economic calculations that say avoiding the problems will cost less than dealing with them.

    Air conditioning will not help people that have to work outside. Air conditioning will not save agriculture. Air conditioning will not stop flooding.

    William demands "absolute certainty" before any action should be taken to prevent a problem.

    Do you have car insurance, or fire insurance, William? Or are you waiting until you have absolute certainty that a car accident or fire has already happened?

    As a general rule, it seems that people that argue "there are bigger problems" [cough]Lomborg[cough] never seem to actually put any effort or resources into taking actions on those "bigger problems".

    [Courtesy of XKCD]

    XKCD Bigger Problem

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  12. William,

    Once you build the wind and solar generators you don't have to buy fuel to run them every day so they are cheaper than fossil fuels.  You continue to only measure the cost of the renewable side.  Who cares if it costs L1.4 trl to build out renewables if the cost of fuel is L3 trl?  The article I linked included storage for enough power so that there would be no shortages, you just didn't read it.  Fossil or nuclear backup are not necessary.

    I remember 10 years ago the IPCC report suggested that Global Warming would eventually cause sea level rise that endangered houses near the sea, wildfires and droughts that caused massive relocations of people.  I wondered if I would see these damages in my lifetime.  I expected to live about 25 years.  

    We see all these things happening now, only 10 years later.  They are no longer future projections.  Wildfires are destroying entire towns and massive amounts of forrest.  Unprecedented droughts and floods are making it harder for farmers to turn a profit.  Millions of climate refugees are already trying to access the Global North because they can no longer make a living due to climate change.  The damages we currently see are much, much higher than scientists projected only 10 years ago. 40 years ago they thought the great ice sheets would take thousands of years to melt as much as they have already melted now. No-one thought that all the coral reefs worldwide would be dying off as we see today.

    We do not need to wait 40 years to see these problems.  You are blind to what is happening before your eyes.

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  13. Hello all,

    I find this conversation interesting because I am having exactly the same conversation with a friend of mine.  My friend has a position that (I think) is similar to WIlliam's, while I have been responding from the point of view of most of the responses here.  So let me try to take the other point of view for just a second to see if it helps.

    What my friend argues (and maybe this is part of William's point) is that every policy decision will have to have some negative consequences, but those don't seem to be acknowledged by the people arguing for taking significant actions to prevent climate change.  The Stanford paper that Michael cites is a great one (I used it myself in my conversations with my friend) but, as Bob Loblaw describes, these analyses focus on the cost of avoidance vs. the cost of dealing with the consequences.  They do not, however, ask/answer the question "what are the costs of the unintended consequences of implementing these avoidance strategies?"  For example, if we assume that (at least for a time) energy costs rise, how does that affect people who don't have the ability to pay those increased costs?

    Let me provide a non-climate change example.  During the Covid crisis there were a lot of measures undertaken to deal with the virus — vaccine mandates, mask mandates, stay-at-home mandates.  Recently in some conversations moderated by Braver Angels, Francis Collins made the following statement "If you’re a public health person and you’re trying to make a decision, you have this very narrow view of what the right decision is, and that is something that will save a life. Doesn’t matter what else happens. … You attach zero value to whether this actually totally disrupts people’s lives, ruins the economy, and has many kids kept out of school in a way that they never quite recover from."

    If we take that back into the climate change conversation, I think that the question that (at least some) people are asking is, can we show that we have at least considered the unintended effects of these actions before we decide to take them?

    To be very clear, I am absolutely convinced that if we were to do that, we would find that the risks are highly asymmetric.  It's going to be MUCH worse to do nothing than to aggressively address the problem right now.  That is, my personal opinion does not align with William's.  However, based on what I'm reading from him, and based on this ongoing conversation with my friend, I get the sense that there are at least some people who need to see that there has been an attempt to understand the possible negative consequences of whatever choices we decide to make.

    Does anyone know of such an analysis?  I have found a lot of good economic analyses (the Stanford one above, and one from the Institue for Policy Integrity called "Expert Consensus on the Economics of Climate Change", are among my favorites.)  But these, again, focus on the costs of doing something vs. the costs of doing nothing.  But they don't bring in the unintended costs of the doing something path, similar to what Collins mentioned.  I'd love to know if there is something out there that discusses this.

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  14. William , your Motivated Reasoning is in overdrive.  Give it up.

    Air-conditioned barns for farm animals in the poor parts of the Third World?  Have you costed that ~ and with where the electricity will come from?  And the social disruption, with mass refugees?  Costed that?

    And now you are falling back on: Predictable problems will not occur because  Mr Malthus was not 100% right in his predictions 200 years ago.  William, you know that is not a logical argument.

    Yes, the Do-Nothing approach will result in adaptation by poor people in the hotter zones of the planet . . . they will adapt by migrating.  Costed all that?

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  15. Ichinitz @13 : Sorry, I cross-posted with you.

    Yes, it is rational to examine & cost it all from different angles.

    But that is not what William is suggesting ~ he seems strongly resistant to taking a medium-to-long-term view.  But AGW is too important a matter to allow our emotions to rule our intellects.

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  16. Hi Eclectic,

    OK, let me back off from trying to speak for William.  Probably not fair of me anyway.  (I am pretty sure I'm representing my friend well, though.)

    Anyway, do you (or does anyone else here) know of any analyses of the kind I mentioned?  That is, what are the possible downsides to taking the actions required to (say) limit ourselves to 2C, and is it possible to quantify those downsides (in dollars, for example?)

    The subset of people for whom such an analysis would matter may be small, but since I feel like I'm hearing it more than once, I'd like to have a solid analysis as a response in the toolkit.

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  17. Ichinitz @16 :

    Quite so ~ it would be a gargantuan task to undertake a full analysis of the type you would wish.

    A decade by decade costing of a rapidly-expanding probability tree, having increasing levels of uncertainty also.

    And how to put a dollar cost on individual suffering . . . or how to use other yardsticks (would 10,000 philosophers be enough, over a decade?).   Ignoring ecological damage ~ how to cost societal disruption and instability . . . with all the possible consequences in political and other fallout that history has been teaching us (even very modern history).

    Daunting.  And probably the best we could do is apply some dispassionate commonsense to our estimations.  Along with caritas (in the Christian sense).

    What we should not do, is ratchet up our Motivated Reasoning, and slide into denial of real-world problems.

    Pragmatically, we know of the social & technological inertias that will slow the whole response to AGW.  But at least we can be walking fast in the right direction, where we ought to be running.

    Half a loaf .....

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  18. lchinitz:

    Do you (or others) have a reason to think that such costs are not part of the economic analysis? Basic economics talks about "supply and demand", where consumption of a good will tend to decrease as prices rise. The rate of decrease in relation to the price increase is call "the elasticity of demand". A highly elastic demand (easy to avoid the purchase, or people just can’t afford it) results in a big drop, while a low elasticity (people buy anyway) results in a small decrease. (Maybe demand goes up if they increase prices, as far as I can tell with Apple.) Elasticity of demand on each product modelled would need to be specified as an input or constraint on the model.

    (The supply side of "supply and demand" suggests that as prices rise, more people will be willing to produce and sell. The balancing point is when prices encourage enough producers to produce and sell to the number of people willing to buy at that price.)

    Another common economic concept is "opportunity cost". Look! I got 3% this year by buying a GIC! Yes, but you lost 3% because you took the money out of another investment that would have produced 6%... There is a cost associated with the loss of opportunity that the 6% investment offered. This "which is better - mitigation or adaptation?" question appears to me to be essentially an "opportunity cost" question. Not a surprise to economists.

    I don't know the internals of economic models, but I would expect that at least some (if not most) of the increased costs associated with climate action would cascade into negative impacts elsewhere, via implicit relationships such as supply and demand and opportunity costs. Even if there is not an explicit statement within the model or analysis, the concept is embedded as a result of other things explicitly included in the model.

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  19. As Eclectic points out in #17, there are many "costs" that are very hard to quantify and include in any economic analysis. But that failure cuts both ways. There is a huge difference between "cost" and "value".

    Economics take the approach that if people value it, they'll be willing to spend money on it (cost). But our system does not necessarily allow that. A mining company can buy mining rights on land, but they usually only get to keep those rights if they take action to actually do some mining. I can't outbid them for the mining rights with a plan to never, ever build a mine there - no matter how highly I value that action.

    Another important economic concept is "externalities".

    An impact, positive or negative, on any party not involved in a given economic transaction or act

    You can maximize gain in a portion of the economy through externalities - getting some one else to pay for the negative impacts of your actions. (Queue OPOF...) Climate change is a classic example of negative externalities - the people gaining from fossil fuel production and use don't have to pay for the negative consequences on those that don't. (It's also a classic example of Tragedy of the Commons.)

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  20. Building on this discussion, and not just Bob Loblaw’s points, I offer the following things for people to think about.

    Developing human ways of living on this amazing planet that result in the collective of human activity being a sustainable part of the robust diversity of life is undeniably required for humanity to have a future.

    The ‘starting point’ for that development is a significant part of the challenge for sustainable development.

    The failure to have the marketplace competition for popularity and profit be effectively governed by ‘the pursuit of increased awareness and improved understanding of what is harmful and how to be less harmful and more helpful to others, especially helping those who need assistance to live basic decent lives’ has developed a very problematic starting point.

    A lot of correction of unjustly harmful development is required. And in many cases the less harmful alternatives are more expensive and harder to achieve.

    And there is reason to be concerned about the harm done by the pursuit of making those alternatives cheaper. The nasty mining that is being done for renewable energy systems is not better than the nasty fossil fuel extraction.

    Cheaper or easier or more popular or more profitable does not mean ‘More Sustainable’.

    An obvious part of the solution is ending the harmful impacts of unnecessary consumption by people who live ‘better than basic decent lives’.
    Seriously think about that.

    Getting all of the 'supposedly superior higher status' people to reduce their consumption and show leadership by reduciing the harm done by their consumption is 'problematic;.

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  21.  Bob 11,
    The evidence that cold kills more than heat ( on every continent ) is overwhelming.
    A Lancet study of 74 million weather deaths over 17 years -  showed cold killing 20 x more than heat, Subsequent comprehensive studies looking at what has happened because of warming - have unsurprisingly shown lives being saved. .

    That Real Climate or any other similar outfit tried to debunk these studies is predictable. I have always found it strange how alarmists ( apologies for the lazy term ) always have to debunk and dispute any evidence that goes against their narrative - in this case it is more transparent than normal.
    As statistical power goes - 74 million over 17 years is pretty significant.
    Why not just accept facts? I can't help thinking no evidence will make any difference. 

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  22. William - can you cite that Lancet study so I can have a read of it? Ta!

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  23. Hi all,

    Thanks for the comments.  Let me try to address a few, and refocus on the question I was asking.

    First, I am definitely not advocating for a market-based solution to climate change.  For all of the reasons that Bob Loblaw raised (and more), I consider the failure to address climate change a classic example of a market failure.  We are heavily discounting the future, we are not considering externalities, and we are allowing ourselves to be caught in a Prisoner's Dilemma trap in which "common sense" says that it make more sense to continue to consume and hope that everyone else solves the problem.  So climate change is, to me, a perfect example of a collective action problem.  We have to work on it together, and government is the mechanism by which we make collective decisions and take collective action.

    THAT BEING SAID, to address Bob Loblaw's question ("Do you (or others) have a reason to think that such costs are not part of the economic analysis?"), my answer is that based on my reading, they are not part of the economic analysis.  I could be wrong, but look again at what Francis Collin's said in my post #13, above.  "You attach zero value to whether this actually totally disrupts people’s lives, ruins the economy..."  So Collin's is basically saying that in their analysis of the right thing to do, they simply didn't consider those other "costs" at all.  They attached zero value to them, which means they were not considered.  There was no way for those effects to influence policy, since they had no value.

    What I'm asking is, has anyone specifically attempted to look at those costs in the context of climate change?  I guess I'm not convinced of Eclectic's opinion that the task would be "gargantuan".  This is what economists do, right?  Based on uncertain information attempt to align limited resources to best accomplish a set of goals?

    So the question would be, suppose we implement a set of policies (from any of the policy documents).  What would be the effect on, let's say, food, sanitation, health care, heat, cooling, transportation, etc?  And would it be clear from that analysis that the effect on those things would not be so bad as to convince you not to implement the policies in the first place.

    I am personally convinced that that is the case.  That is, that no matter how you look at it, immediate action to address climate change is necessary.  But my personal opinion isn't necessarily persuasive.  There is obviously already a lot of solid data supporting my opinion.  But it would be nice to have some data looking at the perspective I've tried to describe.  At least, I think it would be nice.

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  24. John - 22


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  25. John - 22

    the quickest way for you to find it is google  :

    USA Today Lancet study : cold kills 20 times more than heat.


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  26.  Eclectic 14
    Thomas Malthus was a bit more than not 100% right - he was more like 100% wrong . He said : We would not have enough food to feed more than one billion people - we actually feed 8 billion better than we did 1 billion. His scare did harm and helped cause the potato famine.

    I don't cite him and say : predicted problems will not occur because he was wrong. The truth is neither you or I have any idea which problems will or will not occur .

    I do say we should remember Thomas Malthus - when people make apocalyptic predictions and want us to fundamental change on the back of the predictions.
    Getting rid of fossil fuels could cause untold damage. Cheap reliable energy has massively improved human well-being .
    We ignore that our peril.

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  27.  lchinitz 13,
    It is interesting to compare Covid with climate change. With Covid I was ( certainly at the beginning ) very much on the precautionary side. It was a brand new unknown virus and rising exceptionally .

    Climate change is of a completely different order - with Covid speed because of the exponential growth speed was of the essence. No such things occurs with climate change - there is no exponential threat as such . Very importantly the threat is extremely slow moving - if a low lying island is threatened we have years to adapt .
    There are no upside benefits to a virus - warming/less cold might be good.
    We panicked over Covid because people died and very quickly - we were right to panic - and even if we might ( or might not ) have panicked too much - we did the right thing at the time without hindsight.
    We are now more relaxed about Covid because fewer are dying - we have had 40 years of climate change coverage and fewer people are also dying.
    I am much more worried about a future pandemic than climate change - a pandemic hist you quickly - we can adapt to climate change and we have plenty of time.
    nuclear war , biological terrorism even AI worry me a lot more than climate change - they are scary and unpredictable.
    In 2019 the WHO cited climate change as the greatest threat to huma health in the next 12 months. Talk about looking in the wrong place and getting things wrong.

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  28. William:

    You continue to ignore "the fact" that deaths are not the only thing that contributes to an emergency or disaster.

    When you say "...when people make apocalyptic predictions and want us to fundamental change on the back of the predictions", do you include predictions such as "Getting rid of fossil fuels could cause untold damage"??? Or ruining the economy? Or "the dangers of depriving people of cheap reliable energy"??? Or "the economic pain it could bring"???

    What is it about your knowledge that makes you so confident in your predictions that disaster awaits if humans take action to prevent climate change? After all, you did say "Mankind has always been useless at predicting the future", and "...neither you or I have any idea which problems will or will not occur".

    I think I know the answer to that. You also said:

    I have always found it strange how alarmists ( apologies for the lazy term ) always have to debunk and dispute any evidence that goes against their narrative - in this case it is more transparent than normal.

    In other words, you accept any argument, no matter how weak, that goes in favour of your preconceptions, and you dismiss any discussion and evidence that goes against your preconceptions. As has been stated, your motivated reasoning is in overdrive.

    And adding "may" or "could" to your arguments is very weak. There is a huge difference between "may happen at 95% probability", and "there is a 1:1,000,000 chance it wll happen". There is high confidence that the changes predicted by climate science are very likely. You seem to be willing to bet on the long shot, and are putting your hopes for the future on an argument that amounts to "nobody is perfect".

    I think that when you say "I can't help thinking no evidence will make any difference" that you are speaking about yourself.

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  29. lchinitz @23:

    I don't think we are that far apart on our viewpoints. My question about whether there are specific things that you (or others) think are not part of the analysis was probably more directed at the arguments people like your friend are making to you.

    ...but I tend to disagree with you on parts of this. When you quote Francis Collins saying "You attach zero value to whether this actually totally disrupts people’s lives, ruins the economy..."  you are referring to a micro-case. The context of the quote is a public health person, and specifically saving lives. Even in the public health sphere writ large, where budgets and resources are limited, there will have to be some sort of consideration of the economic costs (even if they are only the short-term local ones). If the patient is paying, and the patient has the money for a quadruple bypass even though they are 80 years old, smoking 3 packs a day, and ridden with cancer that will kill them in 6 months, there may be a doctor that will take the money and "save the life". But in most cases, the medical decision will probably be "no bypass for you". Especially if there is only one surgeon and operating room available and there is an otherwise healthy 20-year-old that needs heart surgery due to a car accident.

    And when we get back to the global economy in relation to the global climate, then yes, "ruining the economy" will be part of the calculations. There will be a lot of subjective values that will be left out, but things that can be quantified are likely included. From my limited understanding, I think that one of the highly debatable points in economic modelling is the "discount rate" - the relative value placed on a life today versus a life 50 or 100 years from now. With a sufficiently high discount rate you can basically say "who cares about tomorrow?". Caring about the long-term argues for a low discount rate. But that also becomes subjective and a function of personal values.

    I am somewhat familiar with Canada's legislation related to regulation of chemicals and such. There are clear requirements that an analysis preceding regulation must consider available alternatives and "external" costs that industry and users will face.

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  30. Bob - 

     You continue to ignore "the fact" that deaths are not the only thing that contributes to an emergency or disaster.

    Not the only thing - but surely the most important?

    Getting rid of fossil fuels could cause untold damage"
    Do you not think there is a risk in getting rid of fossil fuels ?

    There is high confidence that the changes predicted by climate science are very likely

    What are these changes ? What are the effects ? Yes , it very likely will be warmer - but what are the effects ? The IPPC does not think they will be very significant , they don't say millions will die - and that there will be more weather disasters.

    I would like to ask you one question>
    If we carried on as we are - with disasters not increasing , deaths at an all-time low and fewer people dying from direct weather deaths and crop yields at their current improved rate. 
    Would you admit the " crisis was overblown?
    Or is it just a crisis because it is - regardless of what the outcome is?



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  31. William @ 24:

    You refernce a newspaper story from 2015. The actual study is probably this one:

    Have you read the actual study? (The Lancet copy is paywalled, but Google Scholar will find free versions.)

    The RealClimate post I linked to (and you chose to ignore) is newer, and written by an expert in the field (not a journalist). And it looks at more than one study, including a more recent one (2017) written by many of the same authors as the one your newspaper story mentions.

    In that newer study, their interpretation is:

    This study shows the negative health impacts of climate change that, under high-emission scenarios, would disproportionately affect warmer and poorer regions of the world. Comparison with lower emission scenarios emphasises the importance of mitigation policies for limiting global warming and reducing the associated health risks.

    So, the authors of that study do not seem to share your "nothing to worry about" point of view.

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  32. Bob Loblaw @29, and WIlliam @27,

    I am probably doing a poor job at describing what I am trying to describe.  I am not trying to compare the Covid crisis with the climate crisis.  I am aware of the differences.

    I was just using the quote from Collins to illustrate that policymakers can, based on their policy goals, ignore certain things which later (upon reflection) they might wish they had not ignored.  And I'm just wondering if we could get that out of the way in the climate conversation.  William @26 is basically using that argument.  He says "Cheap reliable energy has massively improved human well-being. We ignore that our peril."  Meaning that in the climate change contenxt we are proposing to address climate change in such a way that we will affect the availability of cheap, reliable energy.

    Now, I don't agree with that, but that's not the point.  The point is that it's an argument to be considered.  As I said, personally I think that the risks are highly asymmetric, so if we were able to quantify the "peril" he mentions, it would be far less than the peril of NOT taking action.  But it would be great to have numbers there.  That is, show that we are NOT ignoring that at our peril.  That we have looked to the best of our ability, and we believe that there is a bigger peril to deal with.

    Maybe it's not possible, though.  Even the fact that I can't explain it to this group is discouraging me.  I see a glimmer of what I'm trying to say in this piece from NPR.  

    "It's kickstarting the government doing this," said Margaret Walls, Director of the Climate Risks and Impacts Program at Resources for the Future, a Washington research group. But, she continued, "it's imperfect."

    Walls said she would like to see the government include the climate costs of safety net programs, such as unemployment insurance, in future versions.

    Maybe I'll look into this "Resources for the Future" to see if anything like what I'm asking for has been done, or even considered.

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  33. William @ 30:

    No, I do not agree that deaths are "the most important" thing. And I do not agree that past trends in deaths present evidence that there will not be many deaths in the future. If I had to be on future causes of deaths related to climate change, I'd put it on massive failures of agriculture (which we are already seeing the early signs of), massive migrations of people fleeing lands that can no longer support them (they are not going to just roll over and die - they'll be showing up in your back yard), and massive instability in our economies and society as people try to adapt to the new conditions.

    ...and before people start dying, there can be an awful lot of pain and suffering.

    As for your questions about:

    Your idea that the IPCC doesn't think we have a problem is so far from what they say. (Unless, of course, your only metric is deaths so far.)

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  34. The claim is made that global warming is not a problem because cold is far deadlier than heatwaves. It is  misguided and simplistic.  This commentary explains why and adds to Bob Loblows post. Excerpts: 

    Heat-related deaths will rise 257% by 2050 because of climate change. Number of heat-related deaths projected to increase in UK as temperature rise, with elderly people most at risk

    Researchers wanted to try to determine the effect that climate change will have on temperature-related deaths in the coming decades. Their study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, examined fluctuations in weather patterns and death rates between 1993 and 2006 to characterise the associations between temperature and mortality. (Emphasis mine. The study uses solid evidence.)

    The researchers, from Public Health England (PHE) and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, then looked at projected population and climate increases so they could estimate temperature-related deaths for the UK in coming decades.

    Heat-related deaths will rise 257% by 2050 because of climate change. Number of heat-related deaths projected to increase in UK as temperature rise, with elderly people most at risk.

    Researchers noted a 2.1% increase in the number of deaths for every 1C rise in the mercury and a 2% increase in mortality for every 1C drop in temperature. The number of hot weather days is projected to rise steeply, tripling by 2080, they said. Meanwhile the number of cold days is expected to fall, though at a less dramatic pace.

    At present there are around 41,000 winter-related deaths and 2,000 excess summer deaths.

    The authors predicted that without adaptation, the number of heat-related deaths will increase by 66% in the 2020s, 257% by the 2050s and 535% by the 2080s. Cold weather-related deaths will increase by 3% in the 2020s, then decrease by 2% in the 2050s and by 12% in the 2080s, they added.

    This means by 2080 there will be around 12,500 heat-related deaths and 36,500 cold-related deaths.

    The authors said that the burden of extreme weather remains such higher in those over the age of 75, particularly in the over-85s....

    (So the conclusion is the increase in the mortaility rate of heat related deaths is higher than the decrease in mortaility rate from warmer winters)


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  35. lchinitz @ 32:

    Fossil fuels look a lot cheaper than they should, because of externalities.

    Energy transition considers how costs will change. Production by renewables is already cheaper in may cases; storage to cover lulls is still an issue.

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  36. William said (paraphrasing) that the mortality rate from natural disasters has fallen over the last 100 years. The implication being why worry about global warming because death rate will continue to fall. I think its a deluded view for the following reasons.

    I would assume the mortality rate has fallen because of improvements in prevention, technology, rescue services and healthcare. However this has been in the context of a reasonably stable climate until the last couple of decades. I would be concerned that as warming increases heatwaves, floods and crop failures could escalate and mean improvements in healthcare etc,etc cant keep up and the mortality rate increases. This would be especially in tropical zones that get hit hardest by climate change but have the weakest economies.

    It should also be noted that as more people are made sick by increasing numbers of natural disasters like heatwaves, this requires resources to treat them that could be spent elsewhere. So its incredibly naeive to focus just on the mortality rate.

    We cant stop volcanic eruptions or tidal waves and we just go into overdrive to save lives even although it uses massive resources. But we can do someting about anthropogenic climate change and thus avoid needing to put more resources than otherwise into healthcare and other rescue services.

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  37.  BOB

    This study shows the negative health impacts of climate change that, under high-emission scenarios, would disproportionately affect warmer and poorer regions of the world. Comparison with lower emission scenarios emphasises the importance of mitigation policies for limiting global warming and reducing the associated health risks.


    Rather typical you have when presented with a fact, come back with someone's opinion and a prediction.
    You can't disprove a fact with a new prediction. As I said before - we could have this conversation in 40-years’ time, and you or other alarmists would still answer a fact with a prediction.

    Nothing that occurred matters. Evidence is always dismissed with evidence of a prediction. 


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  38. nigelj

     At what point - would you start to not trust a climate alarmist - if deaths continue to fall or not rise for another 40 years - would you think maybe we should not trust those who make these predictions and fuel the narrative. Or do they just get a forever pass - and you will always accept more predictions - even though the people and movements who made them before have always been wrong.

    I think people just want to believe things will be terrible and there are primed believe end of days narratives.

    Yes - anything could happen in the future and deaths and damage levels could rise again- but it is nor healthy to ignore the present - or trust people that wilfully distort it.



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  39. William:

    It is clear that you cannot look beyond one statistic about historical patterns.

    I value the opinion of the authors of a study much more than I value your opinion about it.

    Your dismissal of any predictions whatsoever (except, it would seem, your own opinions) shows a state of denial of anything scientific. It makes me wonder how you can get out of bed in the morning, since it is impossible for you to predict whether or not the floor will support you.

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  40.  I don't dismiss predictions and opinions.
    I am however a great believer in evidence, especially hard evidence .
    It is difficult to discuss matters with someone who ignores evidence because it does not fit their pre conceived opinion and biases.
    If you say t will rain tomorrow -and I say it will not - and we both agree to a bet on it.
    And it did not rain - you can't say I think it will rain nest week therefore i was right - and I am not paying you.
    This is the basic tactic of climate alarmist - they keep being proved wrong - so they move the timelines. - the new timeline are wrong - so they move them again - and so on and so on.

    It is why people still say Thomas Malthus was right. One can never win with them - because they just say somethimng that  is unfalsifiable .

    It is like someone saying - prove there are no UFO

    And btw – it is not just one metric deaths – there has been no increase in economic damage in real terms, no increase in droughts, floods, land burned by bushfires, famine , migration from hot places to cold. None of these ( despite 40 years of predictions )  have occurred – but yes you will be able to find new predictions – and maybe in your book – that means they have occurred.

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  41. Bob

     It is clear that you cannot look beyond one statistic about historical patterns.
    It is not just one stat. Despite predictions. There has been no discernible increase in drought, floods, land burnt by bushfire, typhoons, hurricanes.famines, migration from hot to cold places. Actually people continue to move from colder to hotter places. 

    Yes , there has been in heatwaves - but we have discussed the flipside of that before. 

    All the data is available on World in Data - it is interactive - just put in hurricanes or floods and it gives you the information



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  42. William @ 38

    "At what point - would you start to not trust a climate alarmist - if deaths continue to fall or not rise for another 40 years - would you think maybe we should not trust those who make these predictions and fuel the narrative. Or do they just get a forever pass - and you will always accept more predictions - even though the people and movements who made them before have always been wrong."

    Scientists are making the best predictions and projections  they can. The best evidence they have says heatwaves have already become significantly more frequent and intense (refer last IPCC report), and that this situation will get worse over time particularly as warming gets above 2 degrees C. I see no reason to doubt them. The predictions are rational, logical and evidence based. I am a sceptical sort of person but Im not a fool who thinks all predictions should be ignored or that everything is fake or a conspiracy.

    Scientists generally predict heatwave mortality will increase and be greater than reducing deaths in winter due to warmer winters, as per the reference I posted @34. What scientists cannot possibly predict is what advances there might be in healthcare and technology that might keep the mortality rate low. All we know is there will likely be further improvements in healthcare and technology, but quantifying them is impossible and it would be foolish to assume there will be massive improvements. We have to follow the precautionary principle that things could be quite bad.

    If warming over the next 20 years causes less harm than predicted mitigation policies can be adjusted accordingly. This is far better than just making wild assumptions that global warming would be a fizzer.

    Please appreciate that contrary to your comments elsewhere,  multiple climate predictions have proven to be correct. Just a few examples:

    "I think people just want to believe things will be terrible and there are primed believe end of days narratives."

    Some people yes. Other people think things will always be fine. Both are delusional views. I would suggest the vast majority of people between those extremes have a more rational, nuanced view and that they look at the overall evidence. Polling by Pew Research does show the majority of people globally accept humans are warming the climate and we need to mitigate the problem.

    "Yes - anything could happen in the future and deaths and damage levels could rise again- but it is nor healthy to ignore the present - or trust people that wilfully distort it."

    I'm not ignoring the present or past. The mortality rate from disasters has mostly fallen over the last 100 years and that looks like robust data. I didn't dispute this above. I dont recal anyone disputing it. However you cant assume that trend will always be the case. The climate projections show deadly heatwaves are very likely to become very frequent and over widespread areas, and so obviously there is a significant risk the mortality rate will go up.

    It's almost completely certain that at the very least considerably increased resources will have to go into healthcare, air conditioning, adaptation, etc,etc. This means fewer resources available for other things we want to achieve in life. Once again its not all about the mortality rate per se. So when I look at the big picture there is a strong case to stop greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a new zero carbon energy grid.

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  43. Echo chambers help no one.  People should be brave enough to hear opposing views . 

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    Hearing "opposing views" is one thing. Hearing someone say the same thing over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over - is not at all constructive. Especially when that person will not look at all the opposing views that others are responding with, and simply keep going back to the same tired argument.

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  44. This means by 2080 there will be around 12,500 heat-related deaths and 36,500 cold-related deaths.

    Firstly it is relatively tiny either way .

    2nd -  They say without adaption - so in their own terms it will be even smaller. 

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  45. Nigelj - thank you for your reasonable reply - that did accept the evidence .

    So when I look at the big picture there is a strong case to stop greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a new zero carbon energy grid.

     Would you not acknowledge that transitioning away from fossil fuels to a different energy form carries some risks in itself ?

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  46. William,

    We generally feel it is a waste of time to listen to views that have no basis in facts.

    I note that according to Wikipedia:

    From June to August 2022, persistent heatwaves affected parts of Europe, causing evacuations and a confirmed death toll of 24,501.

    and " More than 70,000 additional deaths occurred in Europe during the summer 2003."

    You have neglected to count these deaths.  These are only European deaths, third world deaths are not counted.  You also do not count any deaths caused by starvation during droughts.  I note that most of the aliens crossing the southern border of the USA are climate refugees.  Are you willing to take in an additional 100,000,000 to 300,000,000 refugees when sea level really gets going?

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  47. William,

    I am sorry, I don't usually comment on deaths caused by climate change

    This article documents that currently over 400,000 deaths are caused every year by climate change.  Your claim of 12,500 deaths is grossly incorrect.  You have ignored the major causes of death caused by climate change.  If you ignore enough data you can make any absurd argument that you want to.

    The link to this headline was broken:

    "New Health Data Shows Unabated Climate Change Will Cause 3.4 Million Deaths Per Year by Century End."

    It appears that your death estimates are off by a factor of about 300.  Because your argument is so far from reality the people who post here at Skeptical Science are not familiar with the data.

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  48. "Would you not acknowledge that transitioning away from fossil fuels to a different energy form carries some risks in itself "

    William, it isn't clear what you meaning by risk. Financial risk, increased mortality? or what? I would say that in any case, how you transition would be relevant - and that varies country to country, region to region. Suddenly dropping fossil fuels without replacing with other energy sources or better efficiency would indeed be damaging but I am not seeing advocates for that.

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  49.  "New Health Data Shows Unabated Climate Change Will Cause 3.4 Million Deaths Per Year by Century End."

    It is a prediction for the far future. 

    That currently over 400,000 deaths are caused every year by climate change

    An obscure article with no credible data or evidence. What are the extra 400,000 dying of? Deaths have gone down . it is a familar tactic of citing existing occurances and saying it is climate change - it would be plausable if there were increases in what was cited - but it is not credible when there are fewer .

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [BL] You are again repeating yourself - treating one statistic as if it is the only thing that matters, and treating predictions about the future as if they mean nothing at all.

    Amongst other things, this is just getting boring. Please come up with a new argument, or stop wasting people's time.

  50. scaddenp

    Thanks again for you reasonable reply - you do at least seem to believe in reason and the real world . It is refreshing 

    0 0
    Moderator Response:

    [BL] Why don't you actually try answering some of his questions?

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