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Climate change is no catastrophe Attempts to stop warming will backfire dangerously

We're very good at coping with natural disasters. Credit: David Odisho/Bloomberg via Getty Images

We're very good at coping with natural disasters. Credit: David Odisho/Bloomberg via Getty Images


November 3, 2021   6 mins

No global problem has ever been more exaggerated than climate change. As it has gone from being an obscure scientific question to a theme in popular culture, we’ve lost all sense of perspective.

Here are the facts: in Europe, emissions in 2020 were 26% below 1990 levels. In the United States, emissions in 2020 were 22% below 2005 levels. Emissions are likely to start declining, too, in developing nations, including China and India, within the next decade. Most nations’ emissions will be bigger this year than last, due to post-Covid economic growth. But global emissions are still likely to peak within the next decade.

And the result will be a much smaller increase in global average temperatures than almost anyone predicted just five years ago. The best science now predicts that temperatures are likely to rise just 2.5-3°C above pre-industrial levels. It’s not ideal, but it’s a far cry from the hysterical and apocalyptic predictions of 6°C, made just a decade ago. A 3°C increase is hardly an existential threat to humanity.

Not that you’d know it, if you had half an eye on the headlines this summer. The floods, fires and heatwaves that plagued the world were, for many observers, proof that the impacts of climate change have already become catastrophic. In Europe, more than 150 people died in flooding. In the United States, wildfire season started earlier and lasted longer, razing hundreds of thousands of acres. Around the world, hundreds died from heatwaves.

But again, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the facts: there has been a 92% decline in the per decade death toll from natural disasters since its peak in the 1920s. In that decade, 5.4 million people died from natural disasters. In the 2010s, just 0.4 million did. Globally, the five-year period ending in 2020 had the fewest natural disaster deaths of any five-year period since 1900. And this decline occurred during a period when the global population nearly quadrupled — and temperatures rose more than 1°C degree centigrade above pre-industrial levels.

But then, 1°C is not that much. What determines whether people die in heat waves is not whether temperatures rose to 110°F — or even 115°F— instead of 109°F. It is whether or not they have air conditioning. Heat-related deaths have halved in the US since 1960 — even as the population expanded and heat waves grew in frequency, intensity, and length — because more and more people did.

Though climate alarmists steadfastly ignore it, our capacity to adapt is extraordinary. We are very good at protecting people from natural disasters — and getting better. To take just one example, France in 2006 had 4,000 fewer deaths from a heat wave than anticipated thanks to improved health care, an early-warning system and greater public consciousness in response to a deadly heat wave three years earlier. Even poor, climate-vulnerable nations like Bangladesh saw deaths from natural disasters decline massively thanks to low-cost weather surveillance and warning systems and storm shelters.

And today, our capability for modifying environments is far greater than ever before. Dutch experts today are already working with the government of Bangladesh to prepare for rising sea levels. The Netherlands, of course, became a wealthy nation despite one-third of its landmass being below sea level — sometimes by a full seven meters — as a result of the gradual sinking of its landscapes.

Global sea levels rose a mere 0.19 metres between 1901 and 2010. But the IPCC estimates sea levels will rise as much as 0.66 meters by 2100 in its medium scenario, and by 0.83 meters in its high-end scenario. Still, even if these predictions prove to be significant underestimates, the slow pace of sea level rise will likely allow societies ample time for adaptation.

Where the secondary effects of climate change do cause catastrophe, it’s often due to failures on the part of authorities. The extent of the devastation wrought by wildfires on the West Coast of America was, for instance, preventable. California has mismanaged its forests for decades — including by diverting money that the state’s electric utilities could and should have spent on clearing dead wood.

Given how good we are at mitigating the effects of natural disasters, it’s ironic that so many climate alarmists focus on them. It’s perhaps because the world’s most visually dramatic, fascinating events — fires, floods, storms — make their cause stick in the minds of voters. If it were acknowledged that heat deaths were due to lack of air conditioning and forest fires were due to the buildup of wood fuel after decades of fire suppression, alarmist journalists, scientists and activists would be deprived of the “news hooks” they need to scare people, raise money and advocate climate policies.

And not all climate alarmists are altruists. Elites have used the cause to justify efforts to control food and energy policies for more than three decades. Climate alarmists have successfully redirected funding from the World Bank and similar institutions away from economic development and toward charitable endeavours — which don’t power growth.

This is part of a common pattern: the people who claim to be most alarmed about climate change are the ones blocking its only viable solutions, natural gas and nuclear. This year’s increase in coal production is a case in point. China has been widely criticised for waiving environmental and safety regulations on its mining recently, in a mad rush to meet winter heating demands. But less attention has been paid to the fact that the increased demand is mostly due to climate activists’ efforts to prevent oil and gas development in Europe and the United States. Lack of natural gas is what led directly to China having to reopen coal mines — and to Europe, North America, and the rest of Asia having to burn more coal. Had climate activists not fought fracking in America and expanded oil and gas drilling in Europe, then we would not be experiencing its worst energy crisis in 50 years.

Meanwhile, the organisations claiming that climate change dooms poor Africans to war, drought and poverty — including the WWF, the World Economic Forum and the United Nations — are the ones seeking to deny poor Africans life-changing natural gas plants, hydro-electric dams, and funding for fertiliser, roads and tractors. It goes without saying that all those organisations are dominated by rich, white Westerners.

The truth is that prosperity and environmental progress go hand in hand. Reductions in carbon emissions came from fracking and off-shore natural gas drilling; both lowered electricity prices, too. Technological innovation like this lowers energy prices, which reduces natural resource use, moving humans from wood to coal to natural gas to uranium. So it’s better to see growth — such a bogeyman to Team Green — as a solution, rather than a problem.

Instead of putting the brakes on, we should be facilitating more innovation, prosperity and wealth. For instance, the melodramatic UN’s own Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) concludes, as do all reputable analysts, that future food production, especially in poor African nations, will depend more on access to technology, irrigation and infrastructure than on climate change — these are the things that made all the difference, last century, in today’s rich nations. Humans today produce enough food for ten billion people, a 25% surplus. And even the FAO suggests that we’ll produce even more, under a wide range of climate change scenarios.

Indeed, the best available economic modelling finds that, by 2100, the global economy will be three to six times larger than it is today, and that the costs of adapting to a high (4°C) temperature rise would reduce gross domestic product by just 4.5%. Why kill ourselves trying to eliminate a problem that just isn’t that severe?

Consider the other threats humankind has recently been forced to cope with. In July 2019, NASA announced it had been caught by surprise when a “city-killer” asteroid passed by — just one-fifth of the distance between Earth and the Moon. In December 2019, a volcano unexpectedly erupted in New Zealand, killing 21 people. And in 2020 and 2021, four million people died from coronavirus.

While nations take reasonable actions to detect and avoid asteroids, super-volcanoes, and deadly flus, they generally don’t take radical actions — for the simple reason that doing so would make societies poorer and less capable of confronting all major challenges. Richer nations are more resilient, which is part of the reason why disasters have declined. When a hurricane hits Florida, it might kill no one, but when that same storm hits Haiti, thousands can die instantly through drowning — and thousands more subsequently, in disease epidemics like cholera. The difference is that Florida can afford to prepare properly, and Haiti can’t.

The richer the world gets, the better it will cope, then. But the climate alarmists have taken against economic growth. According to their holy scripture, the industrial revolution, powered by fossil fuels, was our fall — and the consequence is, according to the United Nations, “extinction.” The only alternative is puritan: don’t eat meat and don’t fly. There are even indulgences, for the wealthy who feel guilty, in the form of carbon offsets sold through the airlines.

This is the heart of the matter: climate alarmism is powerful because it has emerged as the alternative religion for supposedly secular people, providing many of the same psychological benefits as traditional faith. It offers a purpose — to save the world from climate change — and a story that casts the alarmists as heroes. And it provides a way for them to find meaning in their lives — while retaining the illusion that they are people of science and reason, not superstition and fantasy.

Naturally, as a religion, climate change has a fraudulent aspect. Some offsets pay rich landowners not to cut down trees they could not profitably cut down anyway. Exposed, the climate religion seeks to censor. The American government’s Forest Service has repeatedly silenced one of California’s most published and respected scientists, Malcolm North, who stressed to me and other reporters that the cause of high-intensity forest fires is not climate change, but rather wood fuel. The Center for American Progress, which raises tens of millions from natural gas, renewable energy, and financial interests, has been pressuring Facebook to censor critics of renewable energy.

It’s working: few people have a realistic understanding of climate change. Few consider whether, at its current rates, it might be less dangerous than efforts to mitigate it.


Michael Shellenberger is the founder and president of Environmental Progress, as well as the author of the best-selling book Apocalypse Never (HarperCollins 2020) and San Fransicko (HarperCollins 2021).

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J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

Thank you, thank you, thank you.
At last on Unherd an article that provides at least a colorable case that climate change is not the existential threat so many would have us believe.
Now perhaps this author, or another, will write an article summarizing the evidence that much of climate change might be due to natural climate variation and not human activity. Then we at least have the basis for an informed discussion.

Stephan Harrison
Stephan Harrison
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Of course Shellenberger completely misses the point. Yes, we in the West may have access to air conditioning, but hundreds of millions of people don’t. And those who don’t will be killed when the wet bulb T rises above around 35C.
He also conveniently misses out the other issues, such as crop failures, droughts, changing rainfall variability and the problems of adaptation by animal species.
We won’t keep to 1,5C and the modelling which we did a couple of years ago does indeed suggest a potential for 4-6C at the end of the century. Which will certainly doom low-lying countries and regions to inundation. Is Shellenberger happy to accommodate them? Because they will (understandably) be on the move to the Developed countries.

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago

Stephan, Schellenberger “completely misses the point”? Surely not. He has a different point of view to your own. Your somewhat reactive response is, unfortunately, typical of the ‘debate’ we’re having. That is, it’s not a debate but a mud-slinging match, and we badly need to have a proper, cool, reasoned debate on this, because what the western governments are proposing will have massive negative impacts on the world, so we need to be confident that they are really necessary. Schellenberger doubts that they are. He may wrong, but I think you should take him seriously, and reply with courtesy and respect, rather than dismissing him by saying that he completely misses the point.

Last edited 2 years ago by Gary Hennessey
Stephan Harrison
Stephan Harrison
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

OK Gary. Point taken. But look at this from my perspective. I’ve spent around 30 years arguing with people who: didn’t think that the Greenhouse Effect existed; didn’t think that the climate was changing; didn’t accept the attribution arguments (ie that humans were playing a significant role in the warming); thought that any warming would be modest.
I’ve been accused of being a Marxist (I’m not); of being stupid (I’m not); of only doing this for the money (hardly!). I’ve had aggressive and threatening emails, and been shouted at when I’ve given public talks. I can take all this of course, but I do get a bit dismissive when the same old talking points are trotted out.
I subscribe to Unherd because I like the alternative viewpoint it gives me, but I get frustrated with having the same old arguments….

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago

Hi Stephan, yes, I understand. But in this case, Schellenberger seems not to fall into that category. He, perhaps like you, has devoted his life to the environment, used to think that we were headed towards disaster, but then changed his mind. I think he has integrity, and he knows his subject. I believe that both of you want the best for the world, and you are both highly qualified to talk about climate. I would like to listen to you talking it over.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

This from Wikipedia doesn’t convince me that he knows his subject :

A former public relations professional, Shellenberger’s writing has focused on the intersection of climate change, nuclear energy, and politics. A self-described ecomodernist, he argues for an embrace of modernization, and technological development usually through a combination of nuclear power and urbanization. A controversial and polarizing figure, Shellenberger sharply disagrees with other environmentalists over the impacts of environmental threats and policies for addressing them. Shellenberger’s positions have been called “bad science” and “inaccurate” by environmental scientists and academics

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

Hmm, but I wonder who wrote that Wikipedia piece? Not Schellenberger, that’s for sure. I’ve found that it’s almost impossible to find fair and balanced resumes of climate sceptics on the internet. They are usually smears. And Wikipedia isn’t unbiased, as we learned in the Unherd interview with the founder recently.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

Obviously, I need to research him properly. Has he come to a different view from me from reading the same scientific evidence? The science is unequivocal

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

“The science is unequivocal”. I’m afraid it’s not. We are of course told that it is, but it’s based on a theory: that current global warming is dangerous because it’s driven largely by human industrial emissions. That has not been proven adequately, or at least it hadn’t the last time I looked. That’s why we (or at least scientists) need more proper debate – not more bad-tempered shouting.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

You could do worse than read his recent book, which will lead you to conclude that he very much does know what he’s talking about.

Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

The mere fact that he regards air-conditioning as a solution shows he is fails to appreciate that we need to reduce our reliance on all types of energy. Air-conditioning also generates heat outside the air-conditioned area, making it harder for wildlife to survive. Humanity cannot survive without biodiversity, and the Sixth Mass extinction is well underway.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago

quoting that little known Greek philosopher Testiclese….

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

If it’s unequivocal, it isn’t science, it’s religion.

And given that climate change advocates:
Support subsidising coal replacement by even more polluting wood based plants
Refuse to rely on nuclear, while adding renewables that only work when wind or sun cooperate
Have “leaders” who fly around in her planes or have houses that consume 20x energy the average
Believe in studies or “data” which are fraudulent or at least ambiguous, while demonising opposing viewpoints
Focus on countries that have minor and decreasing emissions, ignore China
Push for extreme measures with no thinking of the consequences in terms of energy costs, transport etc

Which of the above suggest climate change is a rational science?

George Wells
George Wells
2 years ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

If it’s unequivocal, it isn’t science, it’s religion.
Exactly!

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago
Reply to  Samir Iker

Like… I’m really… like concerned n stuff, yurr… like… how we recycle all this rubbish talked?…

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

The IPCC reports aren’t even accurately represented by the hysterical treatment they receive, for this the activists who have deliberately chosen a path of instilling fear and panic, and of course the media, shoulder much of the blame.

There is no evidence that natural disasters are becoming more common, including forest fires, for example.

Trying by state diktat to force down carbon emissions when there are not sufficient cheap and reliable alternatives just isn’t working in any case, or has only done do by exporting manufacture, plus some free market mechanisms such as coal being replaced by natural gas. (But all hydrocarbons are an anathema, natch!!).

And, rather amusingly, as we now know, wind speeds are dropping in Europe at least, a bit of a bummer for those who think wind farms are pretty much the whole ‘solution’.

To me though, I am beginning to believe that much, not all, but a lot of this is bad faith posturing, virtue signalling and condemnation of heretics, essentially more a religion than any practical attempt to address environmental concerns. It gives an adrenaline rush, a cause to promote etc. There is the obvious hypocrisy of the vast majority of the preachers of the cause, Harry and Megan, Prince Charles, Attenborough, Boris, yes even Thunberg relying in flying everywhere. Er, we have Zoom? They are rarely picked up on this by the mainstream media.

And why would you oppose nuclear power if you want to reduce carbon emissions? Because of the long lasting radioactive waste? But the world only has 11 or 14 or whatever years of habitable existence left anyway!

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Chris Vautier
Chris Vautier
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

If it can be questioned, it is science. If not, its propaganda.

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

Actually, I am pleased that the usual mob find Shellenberger sufficiently compelling to represent a threat to their agenda. Wikipedia provides one popular forum for such disinformation.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

It was just a quick quote to illicit more information 🙂

Last edited 2 years ago by rodney foy
Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

Really? I didn’t realise there was anyone left who quoted Wikipedia. Is there a more corrupt and bias source of disinformation in existence,

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

It is becoming more corrupt as it has been bought out by an organisation that wants to change the narrative to fit in with their views. So it will gradually produce more and more biased writings. It’s typical of our day. Some want to change actual history to fit in with their views. The originator of Wikepedia has warned about this.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

Rodney, check out an Unherd interview that Freddy did with one of the founders of Wikipedia. They are as malevolent and manipulative as Facebook and the like.

Guy Aston
Guy Aston
1 year ago
Reply to  rodney foy

Wikipedia should be avoided like the plague. We have no idea who writes content and there are hundreds of cases where the information is doctored, altering on a regular basis.

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago

Fair point, but sometimes we all need to step back and see the bigger picture. Often when we’ve spent decades in a certain field we see things through a lens which, with the best will in the world, may be skewed. This is why uncensored debate is essential. We can all learn from others, particularly those with different views.

I am also passionate about the environment, but having done a LOT of macro economic research into this area, I see things a LOT differently to the likes of Al Gore and Greta Thunberg.

Only be stepping out of our comfort zones and personal echo chambers can we truly debate the best way forward for everyone.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

I agree with your approach. So far I seem to have come to a completely different conclusion. I hope “conclusion” is the wrong word, because I am trying to keep an open mind

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

I came to a conclusion long ago and haven’t heard or read anything to contradict that conclusion. It could be part of the globalism movement that want to scare us so that they can take over.

Stephan Harrison
Stephan Harrison
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

I agree with you about uncensored debate being important. And I also agree that there are lots of people in this debate who don’t have a clue what they are talking about.

Stephan Harrison
Stephan Harrison
2 years ago

I don’t have a closed mind about this (as I have said before on Unherd I actually have a bit of a reputation in my field of not always accepting the ‘consensus’ view).
To all those who think that climate change is just an ‘ecofascist’ view and made up by ‘left wingers’ please think about this.
The countries that have most to lose in this debate (Saudi Arabia with its oil, China with its coal, Russia with its gas) are completely on-board with the scientific evidence of climate change. Their scientists are completely clear that the science on CC is essentially correct. I know this because I know Saudi Arabian scientists, work with Chinese scientists and have worked extensively with Russian scientists.
The Chinese or Saudis, for example, would love to produce a climate model which shows no warming with increased CO2. So why haven’t they produced one? They have lots of good universities, with lots of good scientists. Very few of these scientists would last long in China if they were ‘ecofascists’. It’s therefore telling that they haven’t managed to disprove the GE or shown that there is no warming, isn’t it.
The same goes for Exxon’s own physicists back in the 1960s and 70s who told their bosses that oil consumption would lead to climate change. Were these also green lefties? No, of course not.
I get it that you don’t like ‘ecofascists’ (who does)….but that doesn’t mean they are wrong about the science.
Finally, you asked “why did the slippery and vague term Climate Change come to replace Global Warming?”. It didn’t. The IPCC was set up in 1988. I’m sure you can guess what the ‘CC’ stands for!

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago

A lot of people prefer Global Heating

Jerry Mee-Crowbin
Jerry Mee-Crowbin
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

A lot of people are ill educated, misinformed, gullible and to put it bluntly, simply wrong.

Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago

It is impossible to tell from your comment whether you are a denier of climate science or not. Depending which side of the fence one is standing those on the other side look crazy. That is the irony of the dilemma facing humanity today. As a scientist who has signed the latest Scientists Warning into action paper, this article appears to have been written by someone ill-educated, misinformed and all those other adjectives. He talks about air-conditioning as a solution! And he clearly has zero understanding of the fact that the warming effect is cumulative! The fact that emissions production has reduced a little does not stop the total quantity of GHGs from continued escalation upwards.

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago

Stephan, me again. Thanks for this. What you say about Russian scientists surprised me though. I can’t remember a lot about it, but wasn’t there a Climate Change conference in Russia a few years ago, in which the Russian scientists came out against the AGW view?

Stephan Harrison
Stephan Harrison
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

Yes, there probably was. But I can assure you that the majority of Russian scientists completely understand the scientific view around AGW. I worked for 5 years in the Tien Shan with many of them.

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago

Ok, good to know.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

What a wise person. They also come out against gay marriage and choosing your own sex. It appears that only the west has gone mad.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago

Saudi Arabia, China and Russia benefit from Western efforts to cut CO2 emissions. The Saudis and Russia benefit from increased oil and natural gas prices, because Western governments put their competitors out of business. China benefits, because increased energy prices in rival manufacturing countries give them a price advantage given their low priced coal.
The price of oil went from $45 a barrel with American fracking, to over $80 a barrel under Biden’s restrictive regulations. The price of natural gas has almost doubled.
It’s obvious why Saudi Arabia, China and Russia like the Green New Deal. None of them are doing anything about global warming. They’re profiting from Western efforts instead.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago

They are profiting from our mickey mouse shenanagins. God controls the climate not us.

Andrew Roman
Andrew Roman
2 years ago

Some Russian scientists have produced models predicting global cooling in the next few decades. Are they right? No way to tell until we get there.
But there is no way to prove any model is right, or even reasonable enough to rely on, because models and the scenarios on which they are based are not science, or scientific statements. They are “if…then” statements.
For example: if coal use expands by X100 percent by 2100 and if population grows by Y percent by then, and if the relationship between an increase in CO2 in the atmosphere and temperature increase is represented by equation Z, etc., then the result will be warming of D degrees, resulting in an increase in wildfires of W. And this model has to assume that wildfires are not caused by arson, human negligence or forestry mismanagement but by manmade climate change.
So if some of these assumptions are wrong, which becomes more likely as the number of assumptions increases, even a small change in one assumption or in the equations used to model their outputs can make a huge difference.
The reason why so many models fall within a certain range is because the modelers use the same assumptions, particularly about water vapour (by far the most common and most influential greenhouse gas) and the clouds it forms with evaporation from the oceans and land. No one knows how to model water vapour and clouds, so their effect is just a guess (another assumption) that there is no way of verifying.
When people say that the science proves this, or the models prove that, it would be more accurate to say that the model creators say this, based on their assumptions about the future.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Roman

That’s what I think as well.

Max Beran
Max Beran
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Roman

The reason why the Russian model – the one that has contributed its results to the IPCC’ intercomparisons – runs so much cooler than the rest (and sits fairly well on top of the observed temperature trend) is that it uses a climate sensitivity parameter that is close to observations and its modelling of the atmosphere ocean interface permits a higher transfer of energy into the ocean.

Trevor Law
Trevor Law
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Roman

Spot on Andrew. And it’s worth adding that these models deal with enormous quantities of data and thousands of lines of code. Inevitably they become black boxes, impenetrable to human observation of what they are actually doing. You just have to have faith that they are working the way you think they are. 

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Trevor Law

Or you can have faith in scripture.
Do you not fear Me?’ declares the Lord.
‘Do you not tremble in My presence?
For I have placed the sand as a boundary for the sea,
An eternal decree, so it cannot cross over it.
Though the waves toss, yet they cannot prevail;
Though they roar, yet they cannot cross over it. Jer 5:2

Last edited 2 years ago by Tony Conrad
Stuart Y
Stuart Y
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Roman

Bingo! Very noticeable that nobody in our media asks about Climate Models very probably because they don’t understand, but still the whole thing is predicated on these “Models”. Very strange “Science”

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago

You haven’t proved it the other way either. It is getting very tedious and not good for one’s health. I’d rather be concerned about real things.

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago

The Chinese in particular will say whatever you want to hear. They will then do whatever is best for the Chinese. By 2030 the woke world will be in an energy crisis and it will be the Chinese and Russians providing the solution.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

There’s truth in that. We are being ham stringed with our nonsense these days.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago

yehhh… WITS is the game ( Wind up the sandaloids)!

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago

But some of us don’t believe this stuff. It contadicts what we already know. I think it is dangerous as we are spending millions on this stuff which we can ill afford as a country. You have to accept that some have a different point of view. There is no way you can prove what you are saying. It is all theories.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago

I suppose we have to live with these loonies. A shame that Boris has joined them. That doesn’t bode well for our country.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tony Conrad
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

You could say that ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change’ are relatively neutral terms. So not sufficient for the eco hysterics, we had to move to ‘climate CRISIS’ and now ‘climate EMERGENCY’ is insisted on!

As Orwell pointed out, those who control the language control acceptable thought and discouurse in society.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
2 years ago

Maybe those old arguments are right.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago

Because the world wasn’t warming?

Barbara Williams
Barbara Williams
2 years ago

The impact of climate change is primarily increased extremes of high/low temperatures, high/absent winds, extreme rainfall and long droughts. Therefore the term climate change is more descriptive of what to expect. All this makes it increasingly challenging to grow crops, therefore our ecological collapse is likely to kill us before climate change. Bystroff research predicts population collapse this decade. The reference is in the Wikipedia item for ecological overshoot. Research by KPMG analyst Gaia Herrington forecasts financial collapse in by 2040, referenced from the same article. I find Wikipedia far more plausible than MSM myself.

Chris Vautier
Chris Vautier
2 years ago

You are living in a fantasy world. Crop yields globally continue to break upward records, climate disaster related deaths are a fraction of what they were 100 years ago, and live expectancy has more than doubled in the last 150 years. Clearly, you are living on a different planet to the rest of us.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago

oooh.. poor diddums…. not aggressive and threatening e mails surely?…..

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
1 year ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

Big tick for that Gary

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

What do you know? You’re a parti pris ecofascist shill with your snout in the trough. Your views are as considered, impartial and worth as much as those of the Iranian oil minister.

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Jon, I don’t think your post will help the discussion. How do you know that Stephan is an ecofascist?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

Off the facts. He admits to running a business that makes money off climate change alarmism. The latter is an aggressive quasi-religious creed that insists everyone adopt it, that tolerates neither dissent or apostasy, and that endorses lying to achieve its goals.
That’s what fascism looks like in 2021. Islamofascism is similar, but there needn’t be only one kind, so ecofascism is an apt descriptor.
Would you consider the Iranian oil minister’s views worth hearing? If not, why Stephan’s?

Last edited 2 years ago by Jon Redman
Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Ok. But did you read his reply to my post, where I took him to task for the way he wrote his piece?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

Which one was that? He has used the term “climate change denier”, which is an intentionally offensive label and one which betrays his annoyance at people disagreeing with him and finding him unpersuasive. Clearly, such people deserve to be compared to Holocaust deniers.
I’m interested in whether you’d agree that the Iranian oil minister’s opinion is of equal merit. The only reason to dismiss Mr. Owzi’s view – that he’s not impartial – also disqualify those views of people like Stephan.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jon Redman
Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I would think that the oil minister of Iran is probably(!) Not to be trusted. But you are using a very obvious and extreme example to make a point about someone who is not at all in the said minister’s position. As I’m sure you’re aware of, those who believe in the AGW narrative frequently try to discredit scientists who dissent from that view by accusing them of working for, or having worked for, Big Oil. But working for an oil company doesn’t necessarily make them corrupt. They might actually think that oil is not such a bad thing! So my objection to you is that you’re using the same tactic as regards Stephan. He might be earning a living doing something he believes in, rather than holding views that rationalize his nefarious business deals.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I’m trying to think of an alternative to “denier”. I suppose you find it offensive because you don’t think that you are denying evidence.

Holocaust deniers probably don’t think that they are ignoring evidence either.

BTW, I’m not saying that you are ignoring evidence.

contradicteur, rebuffer, refuser, rejecter, disbeliever, disprover, rebutter… ?

Actually, is someone who looks into a subject in depth not to be trusted because they are no longer impartial. (OMG, I’ve just given myself a reason to trust Michael Shellenberger 🙂 )

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

‘Denier’ also has undertones of ‘in denial’, meaning that you know deep down that something is true, but you are unable to cope withwith that truth, so your conscious mind denies it. I think sceptic is the best term.

Last edited 2 years ago by Gary Hennessey
rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

You have persuaded me that sceptic is better

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

I suppose that is what I am. A sceptic but a very strong sceptic. This will all blow over one day hopefully, so why waste life on it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

This subject is more political than scientific. Nobody seems to be saying that plants grow better with CO2. The more you get CO2 down the less the plants will grow.

Phillip Bailey
Phillip Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Actually, one the people involved at the beginning of the Greenpeace movement – Patrick Moore – does make that link in his speeches/articles/etc. In fact, he goes further and suggests that more CO2 is actually a good thing! As a non-scientist I find his arguments pretty plausible

Last edited 2 years ago by Phillip Bailey
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I’m struggling to even understand your ad hominem attacks on Stephen Harrison. The Iranian Oil Minister? So if you are involved in the hydrocarbon industries, you can’t have a legitimate opinion? Which is exactly what the eco activists have always said when they try to shut down debate!

We should all adopt the approach of taking alternative arguments as made in good faith, even if we suspect they sometimes may not be.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Well, as well as not giviing tinker’s cuss about eco sandaloidism, I love putting all my rubbish in one bin, and whichever wheelie is closer… as I dont give a blue fart for any of this… normally also a lower middle class hallmark….so thank god I never have to lower myself into discussion…

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Jon, I gave your comment an up vote, but it appears as a down vote. What’s going on, Unherd?

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago

You can change it. Actually, just leave it as it is 🙂

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

It means that more people downvoted than upvoted.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

It’s a shame you choose to up vote his extreme and ad hominem comments. You can make a case without demonising people who disagree with you, that is supposed to be a feature of Unherd.

Paul Smithson
Paul Smithson
2 years ago

With every respect, it seems to be you who has missed the point.

This is a very well written article that covers many key points in an easy for anyone to understand format, well anyone who has an open mind and is willing to take onboard all scientific viewpoints.

Unfortunately the predominantly white environmental saviours don’t seem to get the points about economic growth and development, and don’t understand how their fear mongering and censorship of other scientific views are actually damaging to the developing world, particulatly Africa.

All fair minded people are in support of doing their bit to help the environment, but it seems these white climate saviours are more bothered (as the article suggests) about making themselves feel righteous and worthy. It is a shame they are not, and never have been, as passionate about helping Africans to achieve the same benefits as those in developed nations have enjoyed for generations.

Dr Stephen Nightingale
Dr Stephen Nightingale
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Smithson

Africans being perpetually denied the benefits of the resources looted from underneath their very feet has a lot more to do with Western corporate-poliical kleptonomy than it it has to do with misplaced Climate Change activism. It is in fact the very same corporations that Climate Change activists have been opposing.

Mike Wylde
Mike Wylde
2 years ago

Empire ended many years ago. Any African resources being looted now is only with the connivance of Africans. Last time I looked there were no major resources companies with private armies to be able to just go and get what they wished.
Africa, and the world, needs to work on African governance and stop blaming the nearest empire for all, any any, of Africa’s problems.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Wylde

I am African. The trend is to loot as much as one possibly can and get into bed with the Chinese and do deals which secure China as the actual colonial master.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

“Africans being perpetually denied the benefits of the resources looted from underneath their very feet has a lot more to do with Western corporate-poliical kleptonomy than it it has to do with misplaced Climate Change activism.”

Oh get over yourself. We are discussing this issue in the specific context of how Western governments are assisting the suppression of oil and gas energy in developing nations in favour of renewables which are not up to the task of utility-scale power.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  John Riordan

These climate change philosophies will hurt countries like Africa more that anyone. I would ignore them and industrialise to cure the poverty. Living on wind power will not do much for you.

John Riordan
John Riordan
2 years ago

“Of course Shellenberger completely misses the point.”

He knows a lot more about this stuff than you do yourself, to judge from the complete claptrap you’re spouting here.

It would be better if you just admitted that he has captured you perfectly in his reference to the fact that climate change is simply a secular religion that encourages the superstitious and the naive to lay claim to the truth while ignoring the facts.

Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago

I appreciate that you’re doing climate work, but 4-6C by the end of the century (from around 1.1C ish now) would imply a massive jump in warming from the current situation as it represents a rate of 3.6C per century to 6C per century change. That’s a huge acceleration from what we know from 120 years of history – 3 to 5 fold acceleration, without precedence as far as I know.
Temperature increase with CO2 is logarithmic not exponential, so it would be expected that a 3 to 5 fold acceleration in warming would need to be showing up dramatically immediately if it were likely to be true. That is it is a ‘tell’ and a test, in the same way sea level rise is a tell and a test of the theory – something else which would need to accelerate massively to get to the activists doommonger predictions – so easily measured short term, and easy to check for the necessary step-change of dramatic increase.
Consequently, I find it extremely hard to see this as credible. My hackles would rise immediately at this type of outlying result. Extraordinary predictions require extraordinary evidence. I also worry that it’s being talked about seriously by a scientist in the field (particularly given the politicisation around climate change) unless there is strong observed (not modelled) evidence able to back it up. We want scientists who are right, not scientists who are wrong – careful detailed checking and caution about anything a long way from current observations. Definitely not cold fusion.

Chris Vautier
Chris Vautier
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Excellent response Saul. The logarithmic point is of particular relevance.
95% of alarmists wouldn’t even be aware of that fact, or what it means.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

The point isn’t just air conditioning. Please do read the works by Bjorn Lomborg to gain a basic economic understanding of the issue. The developing world has far more important issues to deal with than climate change. But why stare into the crystal ball when you can read the book?
It is through getting wealthier – which is happening (if the eco activists allow) – which all experience shows will take billions out of poverty and reduce the numbers of people dying from various disasters by orders of magnitude. Low lying countries? then build appropriate sea defences, as the Netherlands has done for centuries. The low lying Indian Ocean islands are growing from accretion, not reducing in size.

By the way, a cursory knowledge of English history shows that sea levels were much HIGHER just a few hundred years ago. Romney Marsh – Sea, Bodiam Castle, sea. It happens gradually and human beings are very adaptable, if we are allowed to be! We need to be very careful about staking hugely expensive compulsory energy transformations, with untried, expensive and unreliable sources on models which can’t even predict the past climate accurately, let alone the future.

However eco activists instead propose a disastrous prescription of ‘ending capitalism’ , essentially want to halt economic development, oppose nuclear power which is low carbon (some emissions because of construction as with wind or solar power) and intermediate use of lower carbon forms of energy, such as natural gas.

Do you believe the steel and concrete industries, both very carbon intensive, should be closed down? And if not, why not? Do you support the rising prices of hydrocarbon fuels, I can’t recall anyone cheering it on, as of course they ought to be! Whether hypocrisy is the right word, I don’t know, because that presumes some level of intention and knowledge, but wilful ignorance, contradiction and stupidity does seem to be involved. And of course many simply jump on this issue to promote their neo Marxist socialist policies of economic and social control, which, natch, have always proved to be such a great success every other time they have been tried.

‘Last chance saloon’ – but we’ve had several of these before so why is COP26 going ahead? I bet there WILL be a COP 27!! This whole cult has become so irrational it looks increasingly likely to be that the whole point of this movement is NOT to solve any real environmental problems, but to achieve status by virtue signalling and condemning those heretics, many of them ordinary people, who ask questions about it.

Whatever, the Chinese, Indians and others will certainly not put this quasi religious lunacy at the top of their agenda. The West may muddle on with its usual say one thing, do another hypocrisy, rather laughably demonstrated by all the private jets flying to Glasgow, but if we do choose to impoverish ourselves, then it will be a tragedy but we will deserve it for our utter folly.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
2 years ago

Try Steven Koonin’s book. He is a scientist before being an activist. btw, if you were working in the Tien Shan you may remember a conference on climate change and shrinking glaciers, held in Alm Aty. The consensus was that one third of glaciers were shrinking and two thirds were growing, which surprised md

Jerry Mee-Crowbin
Jerry Mee-Crowbin
2 years ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

The glaciers in Switzerland were a real worry for the Swiss in the 19th century as they were advancing and destroying villages and the livelihoods of the farmers. But history shows that they had previously retreated and then they returned, as they had done, no doubt for tens of millennia. So what’s new?
Time to read up – Try Not a Lot of People know That.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
2 years ago

Ah, modelling and the predictions. So far the modelling has been shown to be completely wrong over the last 40 years and so have the predictions. Billionaires still buy luxury homes on the sea shore and the Maldives are still above water and the accelerating sea level rise has been constant at about 2mm/year since at least 150 years ago, but probably as far back as the end of the last Ice Age. So I still can’t see where the emergency is.
My real worry is that unreliable wind and solar will be a total disaster and a dead end at vast expense in money and resources. A disaster because they will be a distraction from investing time and effort in finding real solutions (e.g. reliable nuclear energy, in particular fusion power) rather than solar and wind power generators which will all need to be scrapped and replaced in the near future causing massive piles of non-recyclable turbine blades, solar panels, batteries etc. In short, there is a bigger risk of ecological disaster cause by unthinking reactions and inappropriate solutions.

Last edited 2 years ago by Mike Smith
Keith Callaghan
Keith Callaghan
2 years ago

Look on the bright side, Stephan. Globally, many more people die from the cold than from heatwaves. If the global temperature does rise then many lives will be saved.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
11 months ago

yurrr… like… buy a Tesla n stuff… yuh?

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

There are many books giving the information you are asking for and also many website giving you the actual science and the correct interpretation of empirical data. An internet search will soon reveal them. You could start with a recently published book by David Craig – There is no climate crisis.
There is a discussion you can find on YouTube held on Australian TV some years ago in a programme called Q&A involving Prof Brian Cox. That is quite easy to find. There was an analysis also on YouTube by 1000Frolly PhD which I cannot find but I downloaded it. You might be able to find it.
But look at the discussion yourself and see how Cox lies about science. He first of all claims a consensus. Every scientist knows that consensus has no place in science. In Cox’s own work on the Higgs-Bosun particle there was a consensus that thought it existed but billions were spent on experiments to prove it. Cox didn’t rely on consensus then. He also held up separate graphs of temperature and carbon dioxide. The temperature graph was recent years and excluded temperatures in the 1930s which were at least as high as today. Selective use of data is a classic way to lie. By not showing those years he did not have to recognise them. His carbon dioxide record was from thousands of years of ice cores but he did not show the corresponding temperature record from the ice cores. He then claimed by comparing the two graphs it was possible to see there was a correlation proving that CO2 caused the rise in temperatures. Correlation does not mean causation as Cox knows and has no place in scientific discussion. But it is not something to see, it is something that should have mathematics applied to established whether there is a correlation. In the case of temperature and CO2 from ice core records, the correlation analysis has been done and it shows that carbon dioxide follows temperature and not the other way as claimed by Cox and famously, Al Gore.
You will never get an informed discussion as long as there are universities, NGOs, businesses, schools and journalists. I don’t know why Cox has lied. Perhaps you can work it out.

Jerry Mee-Crowbin
Jerry Mee-Crowbin
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Very well stated Brian! Thank you!!

Ian Morris
Ian Morris
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

If this is true then Prof. Cox should hang his head in shame. Perhaps Unherd could invite him to write an article in his defence?

Gunner Myrtle
Gunner Myrtle
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

You should follow Judith Curry’s blog “Climate, etc”. – she provides tons of information on the topic in an unbiased way. She often posts her presentations to Congress, etc, and they contain the types of summaries you are looking for.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Gunner Myrtle

Does this successfully debunk Judith Curry? https://skepticalscience.com/Judith_Curry_arg.htm
I would be interested in an opinion

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

Too tired to look at it to be honest. I’ve been on here long enough as it is.

Bogman Star
Bogman Star
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Ha ha. I may be proved wrong, so suddenly I’m “too tired”

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

In a word, no. It’s the usual crude smearing of a very good scientist. That website does the same with all dissenting scientists. It’s not serious science, just mud slinging. The giveaway is the final point: 97% scientists believe in AGW. If you knew where they got that manufactured figure from, you would immediately know what they are doing. Too late at night to explain right now. Best to go to Curry’s blog page and read her directly, then make up your own mind.

Last edited 2 years ago by Gary Hennessey
Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

This writer is brilliant. I recommend his book, ‘Apocalypse Never’.

Rod McLaughlin
Rod McLaughlin
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Thank you, thank you, thank you.”
I was about to say the same thing, but I’ll just leave it as thank you, thank you, thank you, for saying “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Bogman Star
Bogman Star
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

He’s a spoofer, mate; you’re being had.

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

Well, you can’t improve on that!
Who prefers Shellenberger to Thunberg?

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Shellenberger hands down. Thunberg is immature and knows hardly nothing. There is a move to brainwash kids and get them to represent their brainwashers views. That is very cruel.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

We are on the right track with this sort of article. More questioning, less Greta Thunberg.
However must take issue with the throwaway comment insinuating that Covid lockdowns of people and economies and removals of freedoms was not ‘radical action’.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

Excellent article. Absolutely spot on the money.
Stephen Schneider once said that climate alarmists had to choose between honest and being effective, i.e. to get their message across and win their debate, it might be expedient to lie. Aside from psychology I can’t think of any other “academic” discipline where lying is considered appropriate conduct.

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Yes, that is definitely one of the problems with the climate business. Activists knowingly exaggerate the prognosis to scare us into action. We need the truth, which is very hard to get to, because climate is so complex.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

Your post makes you a “denier”, of course, Gary. In the same way that to Marxists if you’re not a Marxist you’re a fascist, or to a jihadi if you’re not a Muslim you’re a kuffar, to the green Blob if you don’t accept every outlandish green claim you’re a denier. This is exactly the trouble: the mindset is millennarian, fascistic, and as the article sets out, ultimately ersatz religious.

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Yes, it does for some people. But, if you don’t mind my saying so, your calling people like Stephan ecofascists is just as bad.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

Could we perhaps agree on “useful idiot”? His role is like someone who sells leg irons and thumbscrews to African despots and insists that it’s justifiable because they’re only used on people who really are guilty.

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I don’t think you know enough about Stephan to make such a horrible analogy. See my reply to you above about the dangers of making such assumptions about people – basically delusions of mind reading.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

Well some of them do act a bit like facists if you disagree with them. I don’t know about Stephan. I know I don’t agree with him.

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

And I don’t think Stephan has given any reason to think he’s a fascist. Let’s reserve the word for real fascists, otherwise it becomes meaningless.

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

Same with Covid, same with deflation, same with lots of things nowadays.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

A bit like Covid and vax. So hard to get to the truth as they shut down what they don’t like.

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Except, currently, Epidemiology and “Public Health”.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago

COP26 is the most grotesque boondoggle since Henry set out his tents on the Field of the Cloth of Gold. And that is how I think of Boris: The Fat Showman.

Dr Stephen Nightingale
Dr Stephen Nightingale
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

COP26 is the greatest copout more like, since th e actual polluters are not there to justify their activities. Rather their paid political shills are mouthing all the right words. This one is indeed the convention of Blah Blah Blah.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Yeah my view on him has gone right down now. I thought he was quite good before I saw him on COP26. He has revealed his true colours and has joined the fanatics in my view. Too much listening to Gates I think.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tony Conrad
Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Too much listening to the Mrs maybe?

Christopher Peter
Christopher Peter
2 years ago

A thought-provoking article; and thank you also to the majority of the commenters below who have obviously tried very hard to debate in a constructive and courteous way, something that we so desperately need more of in the current febrile, semi-hysterical climate (if you’ll pardon the pun). I just wish the self-regarding elites would give us a break from all their hot air – in between jaunts on private jets and launching rockets into space – and the MSM hadn’t given up on real journalism and were asking real questions rather than regurgitating sensationalist headlines. Also that the term “climate change denier” should be banned as an attempt to shut down debate, and that we should not hear from Greta Thunberg again until she has anything intelligent or original to say.
For the record, I’m now doing a lot more reading on this topic but my current position (open to change) is that man-made climate change is real and based on solid science, but also that the climate is highly complex and far from fully understood, that there are many other influences on it beyond human, that the climate models have significant limitations and uncertainties that many fail to appreciate (the scientists who produce them may do, but such qualifications do not make their way into media coverage which invariably cherry-picks the most extreme worst-case forecasts) – and that, most of all, climate change alarmism is irrational, dangerous and out of control, so that the ‘medicine’ may be worse than the ‘cure’, as this article argues.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago

I think the medicine is worse than global warming. I’d much rather take my chances with global warming. I think it is over exagerrated for political reasons.

Bogman Star
Bogman Star
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

You “think”. What political reasons?

Ian Morris
Ian Morris
2 years ago
Reply to  Bogman Star

The transfer of funds from the “guilty” developed countries to those likely to suffer from the effects of climate change

peter lucey
peter lucey
2 years ago

A good piece. I’m still terrified of Global Cooling – well, the famous 1975 Newsweek article is a glorious antidote to today’s warming alarmists. (We have always been at war with Eurasia…)

Last edited 2 years ago by peter lucey
Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
2 years ago
Reply to  peter lucey

Starting about 2127 but we won’t really feel anything much before 2130 and its only a short “Minimum” of about 10 – 20 years so it will be just a blip in the grand scale of things. Anyone who bans the use of gas for cooking and central heating before then might end up looking even more stupid than they are now. I’m 78 years young and I hope to see the start if it.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  peter lucey

History shows global cooling usually follows global warming so enjoy it while you can.

Hugh Eveleigh
Hugh Eveleigh
2 years ago

This is such a sensible, measured and reasoned article that no one in the mainstream media would ever publish it for those very reasons. Praise UnHerd and Mr Shellenberger. If only the zealots would draw breath and THINK a bit more beyond their prejudices. Anyway thank you for it.

John Pade
John Pade
2 years ago

The environmental movement was percolating along very nicely, thank you, until 1993 when communism collapsed. Then it became much more virulent as displaced communists moved in and adopted it as the best vehicle for their ambitions of domination.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  John Pade

Globalists Blair and Brown tried to get in at the beginning of Covid to take it over. Thanks goodness it wasn’t handed to them

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

Of course the climate is changing. Just like it has for eons. That’s not the issue at hand.
The issue at hand is absolutely none of the catastrophic predictions that have been made over the last 50 years have ever even come close to happening.
Besides, since when does studying the earth’s temperature for a mere 100 years, out of 4 billion, make anyone think that a discernable trend line is even noteworthy? We’re talking about focusing on .000000025% of the earth’s history. Not exactly a representative sample.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago

Let’s ask a basic question. Who says today’s climate is optimal? Historical records show vineyards in Roman Britain. Today’s climate is too cold to allow vineyards there. The Roman Warm Period was warmer than it is now, which was a good thing for humanity, not the disaster global warming alarmists are always predicting from warmer temperatures. Why should we impoverish ourselves for a suboptimal global temperature?
Leif Ericson says man-made global warming is a myth. During the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), 950-1250 CE, fields in Greenland were cultivated. During the Little Ice Age (LIA), 1300-1850 CE, these fields became permafrost and still are. That says the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than it is right now, although not as warm as the Roman Warm Period. Fossil fuels weren’t a factor in MWP or LIA.
Look up the Wikipedia entry for Paleoclimatology. The graphs shows the earth has had both no ice and been an ice ball. In neither case did man exist as a species yet.
It is statistical folly to use about 100 years of data to extrapolate climate cycles that last hundreds or thousands of years. Only the gullible or math challenged believe in the statistical validity of models built on 100 years’ worth of data, that have failed to predict future temperature patterns.

Stephan Harrison
Stephan Harrison
2 years ago

Short answer: the MWP and LIA were almost certainly regional. Of course if they were global then that would imply high climate sensitivity!
Yes, climate change occurred in the past (look up orbital forcing) but this doesn’t mean humans can’t also do it.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago

To be safe stick to stopping pollution rather than trying to change the weather. That lies with god.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago

Respectfully, opinions vary on whether the MWP and LIA were rgional or global. Since Mann’s famous hockey stick graph didn’t show either, global warming alarmists have spent a lot of energy trying to show they didn’t exist as global phenomenons, with limited success.
Is it your opinion that the Roman Warm Period was local as well? What about the Paleoclimatology record showing Earth both a lot hotter and a lot colder, both without human intervention?
Is your quibble stron enough to justify spending tens of trillions of dollars, or more, on your theory?

Last edited 2 years ago by Douglas Proudfoot
Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago

Short answer: the MWP and LIA were almost certainly regional. Of course if they were global then that would imply high climate sensitivity!

Or something else going on, that we as yet don’t understand, or have overlooked…

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago

Yes that is true but not many bother to look into the obvious it appears.

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
2 years ago

The Roman Warm Period was warmer than it is now, ” Please provide the evidence for this.

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

Crops successfully and easily grown in England, such as grapes?

D Ward
D Ward
2 years ago

BBC World Service’s “World Business Report” today had an interminable interview with George Monbiot spouting absolute nonsense that we were all going to die eec. Though actually at one point i did think that it wouldn’t be a bad thing if we did all die, and leave the planet in peace. Then the Catastrophalists would be able to say they were right and the rest of is would be put out of our misery of having to listen to these mo rons.

Rod McLaughlin
Rod McLaughlin
2 years ago

The most obvious examples of the Western version of Lysenkoism are things like firing a professor from Cambridge for looking into the connections between genes and intelligence, or a engineeer at Google for saying that the underrepresentation of women in engineering might be partly explicable by evolutionary theory.
Clearly, this neo-Lysenkoism exists, and is still growing in scope and effect.
It’s possible that the global warming movement is its biggest and most dangerous manifestation. There is certainly a strong correlation between woke beliefs and climate change hysteria.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
2 years ago

Odd that the industrial revolution ( c 1780) failed to warm up the Little Ice Age. Another failure for Britain.

Raymond Inauen
Raymond Inauen
2 years ago

For those who like to learn a little about CO2
https://www.ric-communications.ch/projekte/simple-science-1
The world of CO2
Infographics can be helpful, in making things simple to understand. CO2 is a complex topic with a lot of information and statistics. These simple step by step charts should help to give you an idea of CO2’s importance. Without CO2, plants wouldn’t be able to live on this planet. Just remember, that if CO2 falls below 150 ppm, all plant life would cease to exist.
– N° 1 Earth’s atmospheric composition
– N° 2 Natural sources of CO2 emissions
– N° 3 Global anthropogenic CO2 emissions
– N° 4 CO2 – Carbon dioxide molecule
– N° 5 The global carbon cycle
– N° 6 Carbon and plant respiration
– N° 7 Plant categories and abundance (C3, C4 & CAM Plants)
– N° 8 Photosynthesis, the C3 vs C4 gap
– N° 9 Plant respiration and CO2
– N° 10 The logarithmic temperature rise of higher CO2 levels.
– N° 11 Earth’s atmospheric composition in relationship to CO2
– N° 12 Human respiration and CO2 concentrations.
– N° 13 600 million years of temperature change and atmospheric CO2
– N° 14 The composition of the human body
https://www.ric-communications.ch/projekte/simple-science-2
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Last edited 2 years ago by Raymond Inauen
Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Raymond Inauen

Thank you for that. So the climate change people could wipe out plant life if they have their way. Trees eat up CO2 and give out oxygen.

Raymond Inauen
Raymond Inauen
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

The reason my comment isn’t higher up in the discussion is that it takes time to go through all of those 14 charts. My charts don’t explain anything other than what CO2 is. It only is the tip of the iceberg of a wonderfully complex system.
Who knows maybe we are destroying the planet depending on which side of the perspective you see our world. I would like to see our progress as something positive even if it wasn’t always perfect. Gloom and doom isn’t healthy.

Ian Morris
Ian Morris
2 years ago

Please can someone tell an idiot like me what the “evidence ” is for human induced climate change? I don’t mean “models ” that predict things. I don’t mean the forest fires and hurricanes. I don’t mean the consensus of scientists ( consensus is not evidence)

Alan Robinson
Alan Robinson
2 years ago

Excellent and full of good sense and balance.

René Descartes
René Descartes
2 years ago

Excellent article, Michael.
There is no plausible justification for depressing global standards of living to the extent that the anti-carbon obsessives are currently demanding.
The political and scientific classes have been wittering on about the 1.5 degree target for the year 2100 and whether or not the actions we are taking now will be draconian enough to hit it. But even goddess Greta has admitted that there is nothing magic about this figure – that if we miss 1.5 then 1.6 will do, and if we miss 1.6 then it will have to be 1.7. And by induction, of course, if we get to 4.7 it will have to be 4.8. Etcetera.
Truth is that nobody has the foggiest clue what will have happened by the year 2100. History tells us that there will have been astonishing developments in science and technology leading to undreamt of progress in methods of mitigation and adaptation. History also tells us that predictions made by today’s climate models will almost certainly turn out to be completely wrong.
What we do know is that most people will not tolerate a certain and immediate destruction of their standard of living in the vague hope that it might lead to things being better a century hence than they might otherwise have been.

Peter Mott
Peter Mott
2 years ago

Gibbon speculated that the rapid rise of the primitive church in the Roman empire was because Christians were expecting a Second Coming. Environmentalism – as a religion – uses climate change to the same end.
Shellenberger says 4 million people have died from COVID. The Economist estimates the true figure. The Economist estimates the true figure “close to 17 million”

Last edited 2 years ago by Peter Mott
Laura Cattell
Laura Cattell
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Mott

….and it’s going to continue to rise.

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago
Reply to  Laura Cattell

How do you know that Laura?

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

She read something. A lot of our view is what we have read if we are honest. It takes time to think things through. I read a book called The Global Warming Deception about ten years ago and it appears to be happening exactly like it said. Many have believed the deception it appears.

Laura Cattell
Laura Cattell
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

Have you looked at rising numbers of hospitalisation and deaths? Probably not.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Laura Cattell

It hasn’t really risen permantly though. It will level off as it always does.

Last edited 2 years ago by Tony Conrad
Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago

There is a catastrophe. It isn’t climate change caused by human activity but human stupidly that believes that our activities can control the climate. Witches did not control the climate in medieval times and we cannot control it now. There is no physics that supports this believe and no empirical evidence to support it. There is only natural climate change, and it is a possible decline into another ice age which will be a catastrophe that we have no control over.
This article is therefore complete nonsense because the basis of it is that our emissions can change the climate. The is an impending catastrophe which is the polices being implemented to control emissions will destroy our economy and way of life.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

You assert that but haven’t backed it up with anything.
CO2 does act as a greenhouse gas. The physics experiments that show it are quite simple. If you want to claim adding lots of CO2 to the atmosphere can’t change anything, that’s totally doable, but you’d need to show that the amounts or sizes of the effects are so small that it gets lost in the noise. Perhaps that’s true, I don’t know, but just asserting it won’t help given how many other people assert the opposite.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

The greenhouse gases might keep the temperature more stable, but they cannot heat it up. When CO2 is pumped into greenhouses, do they get warmer? When you open a sealed plastic bag of vegetables, stuffed woth CO2 as a preservative, do you experience a wave of heat?

Stephan Harrison
Stephan Harrison
2 years ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

With respect, that’s not how the Greenhouse Effect works!

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago
Reply to  Norman Powers

With all due respect, the relationship of man made CO2 to overall global temperature seems unproven. If there are any climate models that predict temperature increases with statistical significance, I haven’t heard of them, and I have been looking. Please cite some sources.
The question is, why is the pre-industrial climate considered optimal? Roman times were a lot warmer. Historical records show vineyards in Roman Britain. It’s too cold for vineyards in Britain today. Why can’t we warm up to the temperature of the Roman Warm Period?

David Batlle
David Batlle
2 years ago

Overfishing is destroying the Earth’s oceans, not global warming. And nary a peep about that. When the powers that be show even a fraction of the interest in overfishing as they do in the climate, then I’ll believe they care about the environment rather than just redistributing wealth.

Ailsa Roddie
Ailsa Roddie
2 years ago

On the contrary, the real religion is the concept of progress and relentless drive to make all the people of the world fit into a western mould – these are the ideas that people like the author simply cannot let go of and which distort their thinking endlessly, as evidenced above.

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago
Reply to  Ailsa Roddie

Ailsa, I don’t see how the article does what you says. Could you explain?

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago
Reply to  Ailsa Roddie

I think the “western mould” that most advocates of economic growth would like to introduce to the developing world is the “not starving” mould, which doesn’t require any religious affiliation.

Last edited 2 years ago by Mikey Mike
Jon Hawksley
Jon Hawksley
2 years ago

It does not appear to be possible for UnHerd to take a neutral position in the debate on climate change. It is a pity that we do not have two planets run by the two sides to this polarised debate. In due course we would find out who had the best research. Should the winner then rescue the loser?

Stephan Harrison
Stephan Harrison
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

Hi Jon
Well, interestingly, we can do these experiemts.
Many years ago, lots of sceptics were predicting that the recent warming would soon reverse and that we would have renewed glaciation. Theodor Landscheid was one of these, who said that there was no warming and that cooling would start around 2003-4 or so.
Climate scientists have also been making predictions (since at least the 1930s and arguably since the 19th century) that putting CO2 into the atmosphere would lead to warming.
Which of these two hypotheses have been falsified? Well, there was no cooling, and there has been continued warming.

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago

Yes Stephan, but many of the warming predictions made by AGW scientists have been proven wrong too haven’t they? I’m afraid your naming of one failed prediction on global cooling makes you guilty of – yes – cherry picking! (How I dislike that term).

Stephan Harrison
Stephan Harrison
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

Hi Gary. But it was lots of sceptics who have, over the years, predicted global cooling. James Annan has even bet money on their predictions….and won.
The only failed prediction from climate science reports I can think of was the 2007 AR4 report saying that all Himalayan glaciers would melt in 30 years. This was nonsense, but it was because it hadn’t been checked by any glaciaologists (it came from grey activist non-peer reviewed work grey literature).
All the projections from even the early models (Manabe’s work) has essentially come right (the pattern of warming, the essential rate etc).

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago

You look at a short period in the theme of things. Climate has always changed. Why look just at our own era? That is a very short view compared to the age of the earth.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago

I haven’t noticed the warming. Britain is still cold in the winter. I think it will get colder at some stage then reverse again. It has always been that way. Last year people were throwing water into the air in the USA and it became ice in mid air. I think people are panicking over nothing and trying to get everyone else to panic. I refuse to as it happens.

Bogman Star
Bogman Star
2 years ago
Reply to  Tony Conrad

Lot less colder than it used to be mate. In the ’70s, where I live, we always had c. 3 weeks of snow in any winter. Now we rarely see any. Just lots of warm rain. I talk to my kids about tobogganing. They think it sounds great. Our eldest is 10, and we still haven’t been able to try it, as there has been no or insufficient snow. Change is obvious.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

The one doing the rescuing would be whichever were richer. This would not be the one that lived in yurts so as to manage the sky.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

The ones to be rescued were the ones trying to live on wind power.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Hawksley

If only.

Gayle Rosenthal
Gayle Rosenthal
2 years ago

The real challenge is to see population decline in countries which cannot support their populations. What would be the yardstick ? Migration. The countries sending migrants from their dysfunction should be encouraged to reduce population growth. Let them interpret the reasons, but say it loud.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago

Excellent piece. I just have an issue with one statement:

Heat-related deaths have halved in the US since 1960 — even as the population expanded and heat waves grew in frequency, intensity, and length.

Using the 1960s as a starting point gives the statement a specious portent of catastrophe. The 1960s had – by a large margin – the lowest frequency, intensity, and length of heat waves of any decade in the last twelve.

Last edited 2 years ago by Mikey Mike
Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago
Reply to  Mikey Mike

Your point seems to undercut man made climate change. Temperatures are not monotonically increasing, even though CO2 emissions are. Your point indicates that the two are not that correlated.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago

That’s my point though not well expressed before my coffee. Heatwaves probably haven’t grown in frequency, intensity, and length. That’s what I meant.

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
2 years ago

The earth is a highly non-linear system with regard to temperature. Slight variations in ocean currents can dramatically change the magnitude and sign of the flux of energy into or out of the oceans. Simple correlations are rarely if ever seen in non-linear systems.
Similarly as the author pointed out heat deaths depend much more on other factors so no there is no undercut of AGW.

Tony Conrad
Tony Conrad
2 years ago

A bit of common sense at last. Why is it only the west if afraid. Have we been mollycoddled too long?

Hugh Eveleigh
Hugh Eveleigh
2 years ago

At last something written which is reasoned and sensible. Far better to be warm than cold and the longer our warm phase lasts the better for all of us. Personally I doubt whether the temperaures will rise as much as predicted and certainly not in relation to man’s efforts but we shall see.

Adrian Doble
Adrian Doble
2 years ago

As long as people are costs and the environment is a commodity, your story will have a tragic ending.

Bogman Star
Bogman Star
2 years ago

Michael is not-so-secretly funded by the nuclear industry and continually seeks applause from the US hard-right. Perhaps, for mental health reasons, poor little electorally-humiliated Michael is playing to a new, more credulous, gallery, just to feel some love? When he ran for CA Governor on a Democrat ticket and garnered a derisory 0.5% of the votes lol.
As this reviewer notes:
“Controversy gets attention. Shellenberger is aware; he’s a PR guy. “[O]n a bunch of these things, my view is not very interesting because I probably just agree with the mainstream environmental view,” he admitted in an interview about Apocalypse Never. “I don’t usually write about things where my opinion is in the majority.” [33] As a veteran opinion maker, he also knows that he needs to establish common ground with his audience to be persuasive. Troublingly, he seems more concerned with showing climate-denying conservatives clever new ways to own the libs than with convincing environmentalists of anything.”
See: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/the-stories-michael-shellenberger-tells/
Surprisingly, for a man who pontificates continually about technical and scientific matters, the guy knows less about science than I do. His “degree” is in “peace and global studies”. Essentially, this is a joke degree for low-flying flakes who are unsuited to degrees requiring actual intelligence and intellectual rigour. I wouldn’t trust someone to do my tax returns if they had a “degree” like that, never mind take them seriously on matters of global importance. Whether they’re on the left or on the right hardly matters – no sensible person should give the time of day to anyone with a sub-standard academic background of that ilk. But hey, given how thin the talent pool is on the pro-fracking right, I guess you guys have to accept whatever mentally unstable self-publicist shows up, right? 
Michael has nailed his colours to nuclear in a big way, and, in so doing, has blinded himself to the enormous potential of, e,g, hydrogen. Consider the following recent advances in hydrogen technology:
1. Israeli scientists have pioneered a way easily to use solarvpower to create clean hydrogen, removing all of the previousvdifficulties: https://techxplore.com/news/2019-09-water-splittin
2. German scientists who have pioneered a simple way to store hydrogen in a stable and safe paste form, thereby making it very easy to sell anywhere: https://www.businessinsider.com/car-bike-tesla-ama
3. And Britain’s JCB is forging ahead with an actual internal combustion engine which is zero emissions, which is far cheaper than EVs, and which has none of the environmental and social damage of battery mining. Essentially, you convert diesel engines from compression ignition to spark ignition. Here, in this video, Harry Metcalfe interviews Lord Bamford of JCB (surely one of the more unlikely eco warriors, but he may be about to do far more to save the planet than most): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19Q7nAYjAJY
Meanwhile, oblivious to all that, back on planet Michael:
“Heat deaths were due to lack of air conditioning”, explains Michael.
You can tell he’s American; he assumes that everyone has, or ought to have, air-conditioning. Most people in the world do not have air conditioning in their homes; hardly anyone in Britain does, for instance. Nobody in Africa does; they barely have electricity at all. (In Ghana, for instance, the main power utility is the Electricity Company of Ghana Limited, “ECG” for short. With fatalistic humour, ordinary Ghanaians refer to ECG as “Electricity Comes and Goes”.) Further, even if they magically were to acquire the money to install air conditioning, their national grids would not cope with the surge in power demand either. What an utterly facile “solution”. It’s about as delusional and blame-shifting as saying that COPD deaths are due to a lack of gas masks; or like saying that young people in Hackney who can’t get on the property ladder should just get a loan from their parents lol. .
Another gem from our self-appointed “expert” in peace and globes:
“As for nuclear waste,” he writes, “it is the best and safest kind of waste produced from electricity production. It has never hurt anyone and there is no reason to think it ever will.”
Yep folks, according to Michael S, “there is no reason to think [nuclear waste] ever will … hurt anyone”. In reality, the stuff remains dangerous for thousands of years, and containment depends on being able to guarantee no terrorist takeovers, no seismic activity, and stable and well-funded *uninterrupted* maintenance for thousands of years into the future. In other words, the “safety” of nuclear waste depends on some alarmingly-juvenile, wishful-thinking-on-stilts type assumptions. But no bother to Michael with his degree in global peace and his facility for PR spoofing.  
In his recent book, Michael writes that the Congo is dysfunctional because it “is a victim of geography, colonialism, and terrible postcolonial governments”; but he also notes that a major reason for the Congo’s economic woes is that “Higher temperatures reduce labor productivity, which helps explain why nations in tropical climates are less developed than nations in temperate ones. It is simply too hot to work for much of the day.” Step aside colonial theft, violence, and unequal exchange, the real reason some countries are poor is bad weather for working. 
Perhaps, even as I write this, Michael is devising a fab wheeze for outdoor air conditioning lol. 
Michael also tweeted, on 7 April 2021, suggesting that the clown wearing the horns who broke into Capitol Hill was actually an environmentalist who had taken part in a climate event in Arizona.
The tweet was later deleted, as even for Mick, trying to plant the horny Q-anon idiot on the libs was a stretch too far.   
I almost have a sneaking admiration for him. Not everything he says is unbalanced, but he’s simply too much of an attention-seeker to be taken very seriously. It really is astonishing how mediocrities with limitless chutzpah can get rich on serving up simplistic, and cynically cherry-picked, half-truths to receptive minds.  

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
2 years ago

It is the use to which this latest religiosity around science is put, that is troubling. When Foxy-Loxy has marketed his Sky Is Falling Crisis successfully, he then invites the other animals to seek safety and shelter — in his den …

Edward De Beukelaer
Edward De Beukelaer
2 years ago

Interesting article and interesting to read all the comments.One of the main issues in these discussions is our desire to come up with a simple answer to a very complicated issue with many variables. It is ok to shoot a racket to the moon: most of the variable can be managed. But weather systems over the long term, or even just a biological system like person or an animal, these are things that come in narratives rather than hard facts.
Maybe the whole co2 thing is a crystallisation by humanity to express a feeling/narrative/instinct that we are probably abusing the planet. If the whole co2 thing reduces pollution and pushes innovation (innovation is what increases wealth, not oil or gaz (look at venezuela…)) than we shall be fine. There will always be lots of disagreement on scientific facts in elation to dynamic systems…. the fact is dependent on how you interpret the data..
But some effort from MSM journalists to probe things would be a good thing….

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago

What an ass.

Mark Walker
Mark Walker
2 years ago

For Rich People in Rich Countries Climate Change is a manageable problem, if quite expensive to solve. For poor people in many countries Climate Change will be an economic disaster. Even the poor in California; Texas and Florida will suffer. For Unherd posters who are likely in the top 5% of the global wealthiest, you and I will be OK.

Mike Bell
Mike Bell
2 years ago

You say:” A 3°C increase is hardly an existential threat to humanity.”
This is a dangerous statement. 3 does not sound a very big number, but if the average temperature in the UK is, say, 12C, then that is a 25% increase.
We know that hurricanes build up much more quickly when they move from the Atlantic into the warmer Gulf of Mexico. Imagine a world where the whole ocean becomes 3C warmer.

René Descartes
René Descartes
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Bell

Hi Mike – It’s only a 25% increase if you measure temperatures in Celsius. If you use Kelvin, which would be a rather more scientific way of going about things, you are talking about an increase from 285K to 288K which is about 1% . Of course that is not an existential threat to humanity. It would merely be a problem that would need managing if it ever happened.

Bogman Star
Bogman Star
2 years ago

Couple of typos, corrected:
==============================================
Michael is not-so-secretly funded by the nuclear industry and
continually seeks applause from the US hard-right. Perhaps, for mental
health reasons, poor little electorally-humiliated Michael is playing
to a new, more credulous, gallery, just to feel some love? When he ran
for CA Governor on a Democrat ticket, he garnered a derisory 0.5% of
the votes.

As this reviewer notes:

“Controversy gets attention. Shellenberger is aware; he’s a PR guy.
“[O]n a bunch of these things, my view is not very interesting because
I probably just agree with the mainstream environmental view,” he
admitted in an interview about Apocalypse Never. “I don’t usually
write about things where my opinion is in the majority.” [33] As a
veteran opinion maker, he also knows that he needs to establish common
ground with his audience to be persuasive. Troublingly, he seems more
concerned with showing climate-denying conservatives clever new ways
to own the libs than with convincing environmentalists of anything.”

See: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/the-stories-michael-shellenberger-tells/

Surprisingly, for a man who pontificates continually about technical
and scientific matters, the guy knows less about science than I do.
His “degree” is in “peace and global studies”. Essentially, this is a
joke degree for low-flying flakes who are unsuited to degrees
requiring actual intelligence and intellectual rigour. I wouldn’t
trust someone to do my tax returns if they had a “degree” like that,
never mind take them seriously on matters of global importance.
Whether they’re on the left or on the right hardly matters – no
sensible person should give the time of day to anyone with a
sub-standard academic background of that ilk. But hey, given how thin
the talent pool is on the pro-fracking right, I guess you guys have to
accept whatever mentally unstable self-publicist shows up, right?

Michael has nailed his colours to nuclear in a big way, and, in so
doing, has blinded himself to the enormous potential of, e.g.,
hydrogen. Consider the following recent advances in hydrogen
technology:

1. Israeli scientists have pioneered a way easily to use solar power to
create clean hydrogen, removing all of the previous difficulties:
https://techxplore.com/news/2019-09-water-splittin...

2. German scientists who have pioneered a simple way to store hydrogen
in a stable and safe paste form, thereby making it very easy to sell
anywhere: https://www.businessinsider.com/car-bike-tesla-ama...

3. And Britain’s JCB is forging ahead with an actual internal
combustion engine which is zero emissions, which is far cheaper than
EVs, and which has none of the environmental and social damage of
battery mining. Essentially, you convert diesel engines from
compression ignition to spark ignition. Here, in this video, Harry
Metcalfe interviews Lord Bamford of JCB (surely one of the more
unlikely eco warriors, but he may be about to do far more to save the
planet than most): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19Q7nAYjAJY

Meanwhile, oblivious to all that, back on planet Michael:

“Heat deaths were due to lack of air conditioning”, explains Michael.

You can tell he’s American; he assumes that everyone has, or ought to
have, air-conditioning. Most people in the world do not have air
conditioning in their homes; hardly anyone in Britain does, for
instance. Nobody in Africa does; they barely have electricity at all.
(In Ghana, for instance, the main power utility is the Electricity
Company of Ghana Limited, “ECG” for short. With fatalistic humour,
ordinary Ghanaians refer to ECG as “Electricity Comes and Goes”.)
Further, even if they magically were to acquire the money to install
air conditioning, their national grids would not cope with the surge
in power demand either. What an utterly facile “solution”. It’s about
as delusional and blame-shifting as saying that COPD deaths are due to
a lack of gas masks; or like saying that young people in Hackney who
can’t get on the property ladder should just get a loan from their
parents lol. .

Another gem from our self-appointed “expert” in peace and globes:

“As for nuclear waste,” he writes, “it is the best and safest kind of
waste produced from electricity production. It has never hurt anyone
and there is no reason to think it ever will.”

Yep folks, according to Michael S, “there is no reason to think
[nuclear waste] ever will … hurt anyone”. In reality, the stuff
remains dangerous for thousands of years, and containment depends on
being able to guarantee no terrorist takeovers, no seismic activity,
and stable and well-funded *uninterrupted* maintenance for thousands
of years into the future. In other words, the “safety” of nuclear
waste depends on some alarmingly-juvenile, wishful-thinking-on-stilts
type assumptions. But no bother to Michael with his degree in global
peace and his facility for PR spoofing.

In his recent book, Michael writes that the Congo is dysfunctional
because it “is a victim of geography, colonialism, and terrible
postcolonial governments”; but he also notes that a major reason for
the Congo’s economic woes is that “Higher temperatures reduce labor
productivity, which helps explain why nations in tropical climates are
less developed than nations in temperate ones. It is simply too hot to
work for much of the day.” Step aside colonial theft, violence, and
unequal exchange, the real reason some countries are poor is bad
weather for working.

Perhaps, even as I write this, Michael is devising a fab wheeze for
outdoor air conditioning lol.

Michael also tweeted, on 7 January 2021, suggesting that the clown
wearing the horns who broke into Capitol Hill was actually an
environmentalist who had taken part in a climate event in Arizona.

The tweet was later deleted, as even for Mick, trying to plant the
horny Q-anon idiot on the libs was a stretch too far.

I almost have a sneaking admiration for him. Not everything he says is
unbalanced, but he’s simply too much of an attention-seeker to be
taken very seriously. It really is astonishing how mediocrities with
limitless chutzpah can get rich on serving up simplistic, and
cynically cherry-picked, half-truths to receptive minds.

Deborah B
Deborah B
2 years ago

Aside from the argument that mankind can and will adapt, the natural environment, the diversity of flora and fauna, do not have that luxury. We may well survive but perhaps the world we will have created, full of consuming people, will not be worth living in.
Climate change and our wanton destruction of our home planet are two separate but interconnected discussions.
Growth, increased prosperity and the resulting population explosion will not protect this earth.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

The point seems to be that humanity can adapt to anything, and that all we need to do is get rich, then nothing ever needs to worry us. The arguments (OK, there are arguments) seem picked to buttress that point. Regrettably this is totally unbelievable for anyone who is not already on board. As long as you refuse to consider that there even might be a problem that requires action, I will assume that this is a case of policy-driven evidence – and refuse to consider what you are saying.

Somebody like Tom Chivers, who tries to get a proper appreciation of the various scenarios and their probabilities, might convince me to change my mind, if his arguments went that way. This will not.

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Rasmus, I’ve read two pieces by Tom Chivers on climate change, and while he does seem to weigh the different points of view on the subject, he doesn’t seem to take into account the negative impact that the current policies taken by most western governments will have on the world. So he says, in effect, that even f there is a small chance that the IPCC predictions are correct, we should follow these policies. If the policies had no downside, fair enough, but they do have a downside.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

Chivers also reliably concludes that even where the evidence, forecasts or panic-mongering are manifestly wrong, we should still proceed with the ecofascist agenda anyway.
It is akin to how, in Animal Farm, everything that goes wrong is always the fault of Snowball.

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Rasmus, Michael doesn’t deny emissions but says we should deal with them intelligently such as use of emission-free nuclear. The improvements of lifestyle through economic growth and eliminating poverty work out as more positive for environmental care not least because they reduce overall population size.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

But we aren’t doing nothing. We are funneling billions of dollars of public money , and money extracted from oil & gas companies, to wind farms and solar projects. (then complaining when there’s blackouts or gas shortages)

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

As long as global warming alarmists continue to cry “wolf,” when there ain’t no wolf so far, I will continue to believe they’re lying.
Climate cycles are know to last for hundreds or even thousands of years. The theory of man-made global warming rests on about 100 years worth of real data. How can any reliable climate theory be based on just 100 years worth of constantly adjusted data?
The natural drivers of climate change are very poorly understood. The paleoclimatology history (herstory) of Earth shows both iceball Earth and no ice Earth. In neither time was man even a species. Without a good model of how these temperature extremes happened, how is it possible to build models of the effects of changes in CO2 concetrations in the atmosphere? What are the effects of changes in the sun’s energy output, Earth’s axial tilt and the size of volcanic eruptions? We don’t really know. How can we then separate out the possibly false correlations of variations cause by burning fossil fuels from the effects of these other variables? We can’t.
The cost of switching off of fossil fuels is gigantic, tens, maybe hundreds, of trillions of dollars. Roughly 82% of US electricity generation is fossil fuels or aging nuclear plants. The cost of simply replacing them is in the tens of trillions of dollars. Then remember we will no longer heat with natural gas, and no longer drive gasoline cars. All of those things will depend on electricity. We’ll need to tripple our electricity generating capacity to handle the additional load.
Renewables are intermittent. They need battery backup, or fossil fuel backup. Building battery backup with today’s technology will cost 100 times what a fossil fuel plant will cost with the same capacity, just for 24 hour backup.
Do you want to spend all this money, for an unproven theory, while China builds enough coal fired CO2 emitting electricity generation every 5 years to equal the US total yearly CO2 emissions?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

Thre is only one way of proving we are heading for disaster: waiting till the disaster has already happened. I suppose we could do it that way.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago

Who’s words should carry more weight, a journalist and author, or almost all environmental scientists ?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

The former. He looks objectively at the evidence and the motivations of the green Blob. The latter are morally incompetent troughers making money off panic.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Almost all of them? Doesn’t that stretch credibility a tad?

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

The question was asked about scientists in general, so I offered an equally general answer.
More specifically, the only exceptions I can really think of in climate science are Judith Curry and Richard Lindzen.
This comes about because the only way to get have a career and work as a climate “scientist” is to publish on-message. The pal review process ensures that nothing off-message gets out, “even if we have to redefine what the peer-reviewed literature is”. A piece of work that conclusively debunked climate change would no more make it into Nature than one that proved evolution would make it into the Catholic Herald. If it were published elsewhere, the author would be excommunicated, and climate scientists would try to get the journal editor fired.
So in general, a journalist is more reliable than a climate scientist because only some journalists are morally incompetent troughers, whereas approximately all climate scientists are. To be quite clear, the rewards of being an ecofascist aren’t necessarily monetary. The XR rabble, for example, enjoy scolding people, have permission to hate people, get to lecture others on their shortcomings, and it all makes them feel great. This is exactly why other people become police officers or priests.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

That’s kind of saying that the scientific method doesn’t work. Once scientists reach a concensus, nothing’s going to shift it, because no debunking paper would ever get published in a reputable journal. I hope you’re wrong

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

If it’s Marxist pseudoscience, I think that’s true. Lysenkoism wasn’t overturned by other scientists.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

It’s not quite saying that. It’s saying that institutionalized academics aren’t necessarily using the scientific method, even if their universities may call them scientists.
If you look closely, actually, nothing in the scientific system ensures that you use the scientific method. Nor can it. There’s no agreed upon definition of what the scientific method actually is.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

Who are the environmental scientists? The chairman of the IPPC, a railway engineer?

Stephan Harrison
Stephan Harrison
2 years ago
Reply to  Anna Bramwell

It’s IPCC. And it doesn’t do any science…it just reports it. Therefore it doesn’t matter who the chairman is.

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago

Hmm, I think it probably does matter who the chairman is. One of the things that sceptics criticize about the reports is that many of the qualifications, not to mention disagreements, in the reports have, at least in the past, been edited out by the chairman, in their attempt to have (force) a consensus. Also you say the IPCC just reports the science. But, as I understand it, it was set up under the assumption that global warming was being driven in large part by human CO 2 emissions, so it tends to make use of and report the science that reflects that view.

Last edited 2 years ago by Gary Hennessey
Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Evolution – and subsequent revisions to, and departures from, Darwinian theory – has long been accepted and taught by Catholic educational institutions. Try some other religion if you want a cheap shot.
I agree with George Pell when he said, regarding the wider church:

“The church has got no mandate from the Lord to pronounce on scientific matters,” he said,

“We believe in the autonomy of science.”

That statement, by the way, was pretty much the starting gun in the race to find Pell guilty of something, anything, and led to him being wrongfully imprisoned on fabricated abuse charges for 14 months before charges were quashed.
Try googling him and you’ll see nothing but pages of “denier” accusations, including a grossly defamatory Wikipedia page.

Stephan Harrison
Stephan Harrison
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Well you mentioned Lindzen and Curry. Both of them are eminent scientists and (interestingly) both completely agree on the science of climate change. (Which should make some posters at Unherd rather uncomfortable!).
Where they mainly disagree with most other climate scientists is on Climate Sensitivity.
Lindzen, for instance, said:
“If we doubled CO2, it’s well accepted that you should get about 1 degree warming if nothing else happened. […] But 1 degree is reckoned as not very significant. The question then is: is what we’ve seen so far suggesting that you have more than that, and the answer is no.”
Well he’s wrong! We are nowhere near doubling, and have already reached more than 1C warming. Their hypothesis has been falsified.

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago

Stephan, your statement that Lindzen and Curry “completely agree with the science on climate change” is very misleading. I haven’t looked at Lindzen for a while so I’ll make no comment on him, but exactly which parts of the science on climate change does Curry completely agree with? Not with all of it by any means. And indeed it’s not possible to agree with all of it because, as I’m sure you are aware, there are different theories and counter theories. To be specific, Curry is very critical of the IPCC reports and also of the recommendations. (Readers, do look up her excellent blog).

Stephan Harrison
Stephan Harrison
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

Yes, she disagrees with how the uncertainties have been communicated and also with some of the attribution statements (and I agree with her on this!). But she completely agrees with the basic physics of warming. IIRC we once had an exchange where she said that sensitivity could be between 0-10C. She was completely wrong about that!

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

Remind me again what was the CO2 level during the Mediaeval Warm Period?

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Scientific method requires open inquiry. It’s not a political poll or a toothpaste ad. “Nine out of ten climatologists recommend anthropomorphic global warming for their governments who are making research grants.”
Temperature “adjustments” in older data, erasures of raw data and refusal to publish papers that disagree with the narrative, all point to politics, not science.

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

Rodney, I think referring to Schellenbeger as a journalist and writer doesn’t do him justice. And as for the ‘almost all environmental scientists’ – that’s a weak argument. There exists a whole range of views among them, and anyway, haven’t you heard of groupthink? Scientists are human and are just as susceptible to it as the rest of humanity. You might want to look up Judith Curry (no, not on Wikipedia etc, but her own blog page). She just might make you think again.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

I admit that I only quoted about him from Wikipedia. I haven’t yet looked up Judith Curry. I have read a lot of scientific research, and this broadly supports their concensus that we have an urgent problem to fix. It’s more than just the sort of opinion that you or I might come up with

Gary Hennessey
Gary Hennessey
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

Yes, you and I aren’t climate scientists, so we have to rely on what they tell us. The problem, and it’s a big one, is that we can’t completely rely on them. First, many of them are not only scientists, but also activists, and they have taken on themselves the task of not only informing us, but also of persuading, and once they do that, we can’t rely on them to tell the truth (noble cause corruption). Then, there is no one scientific viewpoint on climate. As Judith Curry has pointed out, the IPCC has been working with the model ‘speaking consensus to power’ and so have tried to force a consensus, silencing dissenters, or at least dismissing them rather than engaging with them. I would like to hear from the whole range of scientific views, so that I am as well informed as possible. That’s what I would like the governments of the world to do too – unfortunately, they are only listening to the forced ‘consensus’ of the IPCC.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

This topic, as you suggest, is a very complex one that has been corrupted by political activism incorporating feelings and emotion such as fear and zealotry.
The comments I have read appear to be relying, partially, on the appeal to authority as a measure of the legitimacy of climate change pronouncements. The problem is, as others here point out, the status of the person making an argument or laying out a position from within a scientific discipline, does not confer legitimacy on their research or argumentation. That legitimacy is a property of the rigour of their research methodology and logic within their arguments etc.

Stephan Harrison
Stephan Harrison
2 years ago
Reply to  Gary Hennessey

But Gary. Why do you rely on Curry (who’s one of only a very small number of lukewarmers who are actual climate scientists (the others might be Lindzen, Spencer,). Why accept their views….rather than the thousands of other climate scientists who accept the science?
I don’t care about activists. I’m talking about the bulk of the actual scientifc expertise.
There are always going to be a few who don’t accept it….just like there are people on the internet who think Einstein was wrong, or disagree with Quantum Physics, tectonics etc.