Did you know that climate change kills! At least that’s the claim out in a new study yesterday, as reported in The Daily Beast, which, last I checked, relies heavily upon a hydrocarbon-intensive energy system to exist. Anyway, according to the latest CO2-breathless story, climate change kills 400,000 people a year, and costs the global economy $1.2 trillion. Jeepers: Maybe the climate—or Mother Nature Herself—should come with a warning label like cigarette packs.
The report comes from something called the Climate Vulnerability Forum (with offices conveniently located in Geneva and Madrid, because you wouldn’t want to be located where any of the world’s poor actually have to live without modern energy would you?), and is hardly worth pouring through the methodology to debunk. In fact, it is not necessary to dispute the death toll estimate to grasp how colossally stupid the study is.
I’m reminded of P.J. O’Rourke’s great line about socialized medicine: if you think health care is expensive now, wait till you see what it costs when it’s free. Likewise, if you think the death toll from climate change is significant now, wait till you see what it is when you deprive the developing world of inexpensive hydrocarbon energy. After all, it was hydrocarbon energy that the currently wealthy nations of the world used to advance their lifespans, lift billions out of poverty (that’s billions with a B), etc, etc. As my occasional writing partner Ken Green puts it, homo sapiens really ought to be known as homo igniferens—human beings whose existence and progress depends on inexpensive energy.
Or you can try out this approach: automobile accidents currently kill more people than climate—an estimated 500,000 a year. The death toll is disproportionately heavy in the poorer, developing world. Ban cars! Or reduce the global speed limit to 10 mph! That would reduce the death toll by nearly the entire 500,000. Who could be against saving 500,000 lives a year? Actually, anyone with common sense would, as the death toll from the second order effects of denying the rapidity of transportation from the surface auto and truck fleet would surely be higher. It’s called a tradeoff, climateers, and you might want to learn how to do it some day. Just Imagine tradeoffs—it’s easy if you try. (Not that DDT-banning Green really care much about saving lives in the poorer developing world. But that’s a post for another day.)
This kind of study is so pathetic that it doesn’t even merit a Power Line Green Weenie Runner Up Award. Losers.
UPDATE: Nick Schulz points me toward this Forbes.com column from Timothy Lee, pointing out the lazy reporting on this study, and especially the fact that most pollution-rleated deaths in the developing world are from
“indoor smoke from burning wood and coal for cooking and heating.” In other words, they have nothing to do with greenhouse gases emitted by industrialized nations. Mostly these countries need fast enough economic growth that ordinary people can afford modern stoves and furnaces.