The Great Climate Health Scare

My latest at Real Clear Energy.

So what exactly does the editor of the British Dental Journal (BDJ) know about climate change? And why should anyone care?

Ahead of the annual United Nations’ climate meeting to be held in Scotland in November, BDJ editor Stephen Hancocks and 18 other medical journal editors recently penned an editorial on climate change which appeared in the 200 or so medical journals including prestigious publications like the New England Journal of Medicine and the Lancet.

“Reflecting the severity of the moment, this editorial appears in health journals across the world. We are united in recognizing that only fundamental and equitable changes to societies will reverse our current trajectory,” they wrote in their essay titled, “Call for Emergency Action to Limit Global Temperature Increases, Restore Biodiversity, and Protect Health.”

What could they be talking about? If only they knew.

The editorial first claims that no increase in temperature is “safe.” But this is, of course, falsified by the reality. Since industrialization, a period during which climate alarmists claim that average global temperature has increased by 1.1 degrees Celsius (1.1C), human population has boomed, growing from about 1 billion to 7.8 billion.

Even since NASA’s James Hansen started fretting global warming in 1980, global population has grown by 75 percent. COVID aside, the global population is living longer, and leading healthier and wealthier lives.

It is also well-known in the medical community that warmer is healthier than colder. The annual death rate always, and without exception, peaks in the winter and bottoms out during the warm months of summer.

All the evidence indicates that warmer temperatures are a boon to health and life.

Sure heat waves can kill. But even heat wave deaths have declined dramatically over the past 100 years despite thath average global temperature has increased slightly.

Part of the reason that the human population has boomed over the past 200 years is because technology has dramatically increased global crop production. Oddly enough, though, the editorial falsely claims that “Global heating is also contributing to the decline in global yield potential for major crops.”

Year-to-year variation aside, global crop production is at record levels and increasing thanks to fossil-fuels and agricultural technology. The slight warming since the Industrial Revolution as well as higher carbon dioxide levels has also aided in increasing agricultural output. There is certainly no lack of food production. We even grow food to burn as part of gasoline.

Sure there are still too many people who suffer from malnutrition and die from starvation every day, including many children. But these numbers have come way down, once again, as the planet has slightly warmed. Most of these deaths are more appropriately attributed to poverty, lack of economic development and bad government. These problems can be exacerbated from time to time by bad weather (as distinct from climate change). But there is no rhyme or reason behind the notion they will be abated by the senseless quest to make energy more expensive.

The editorial frets about the average global temperature exceeding Paris Climate Accord’s temperature target of 1.5C and about “climate “tipping points.” But these claims, too, are without any basis in actual science.

The 2009 Climategate email scandal revealed that temperature targets, like 2C and 1.5C, were “plucked out of thin air” and so are totally arbitrary, not scientific. And there is no such thing as a climate “tipping point.”

Global climate is a dynamic system always searching for equilibrium. It is affected by human activity – not only emissions but the urban heat island effect and land use. It is also affected by natural variability, which is not well understood. To the extent that average global temperature has changed since industrialization, no one can scientifically apportion that change among all those factors. The Earth’s climate is continually and gradually changing. It always has. The notion that it can be stopped or controlled is just downright silly.

Not so curiously, the editorial fails to address the various economic and political motivations in the climate debate. Leftists hope to use climate to increase government control of the economy. U.S. geopolitical rivals and foes like Europe and Communist China hope climate regulations will harm the US economy. The wind, solar, electric vehicle and other green tech industries hope to profit from taxpayer subsidies.

These medical journal editors routinely scrutinize study authors for conflicts of interest before studies and commentaries get published. But scrutiny of the various motivations in the climate debate apparently merit a pass?

Finally, the editorial states: “Despite the world’s necessary preoccupation with Covid-19, we cannot wait for the pandemic to pass to rapidly reduce emissions.” Wait, what? We have to get through Covid-19 so we can move on to unjustified emissions cuts? We can’t just get through pandemic and then get on with our lives?

You would think that the editors of these prestigious medical journals would have their hands full with the still unresolved pandemic. Instead, they want to distract from the actual global problem the public health profession can’t solve and re-direct the public toward an entirely invented “problem” — one which they don’t seem to understand in the slightest.

Steve Milloy publishes and is the author if “Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA.”


September 14, 2021