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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
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year 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
1 year 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
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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.