Not So Hot

The new climate-change study getting all the headlines is deliberately misleading. Too bad so many in the media got fooled.

BY BJORN LOMBORG | SEPTEMBER 28, 2012

 
September 26 was a triumph for public relations. An organization called DARA launched a report called “Climate Vulnerability Monitor 2nd Edition. A Guide to the Cold Calculus of a Hot Planet.” The study, sponsored by 20 countries, projected some astoundingly large impacts from climate change, both on the number of deaths and the economic impacts. The report has produced a media heyday for climate alarmism, but is a house of cards built on dubious analysis and erroneous claims.

News headlines around the world reflected the study’s projections about deaths and costs. A much-quoted Reuters story, posted here by the Huffington Post, cautioned: “Climate Change Deaths Could Total 100 Million By 2030 If World Fails To Act.” Businessweek’s headline warned: “Climate Change Reducing Global GDP by $1.2 Trillion.”

Nearly all the media coverage also portrayed the study uncritically, and with the assumption that these bad outcomes were crucially dependent on us not tackling climate change. (Another headline: “If world doesn’t act on climate, 100 million will die by 2030.”) Bloomberg News’s story helpfully stressed that if climate change remains, unchecked the cost will escalate by 2030 to 3.2 percent of GDP or about $6.7 trillion annually.

Unfortunately, this message to the public is dramatically misleading. Serious errors or omissions (whether intentional or not) in at least three areas — climate change deaths, economic costs, and the costs of “action versus inaction” — almost entirely undermine the entire thrust of the report.

Let’s be clear. Global warming is real and man-made, and it needs an effective response. But unfounded alarmism and panic are unlikely to engender good and effective policy.

Read more: Not So Hot – By Bjorn Lomborg | Foreign Policy

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