By James Taylor
The Los Angeles Times embarrassed itself Sunday (July 30, 2023) publishing an editorial presenting unsubstantiated climate myths while trying to put a hit on a recent, factual Fox News article. The op-ed, “Dying from the heat is not a political statement” by Times columnist Robin Abcarian, is a master class on how to ignore facts while presenting propaganda.
Abcarian’s editorial begins by telling the urban myth that, “This month looks to be the hottest ever on record for the entire planet.” However, scientists have long documented, and even the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has acknowledged, that temperatures were warmer 1,000 years ago during the Medieval Warm Period, 2,000 years ago during the Roman Warm Period, 6,000 years ago during the Holocene Climate Optimum, and indeed during most of the time period for which human civilization has existed. Moreover, scientists know temperatures were warmer than today during the vast majority of the planet’s existence.
Abcarian then singles out my colleague, The Heartland Institute’s Socialism Research Center Director Justin Haskins, as being “anti-science” for writing in a Fox News column that wildfires are not getting worse due to climate change. “Who you gonna believe? The guy who wrote a book called ‘Socialism Is Evil’ or the entire climate science community?” Abcarian asks.
We’ll discuss Abcarian’s love for socialism in a moment. For now, we can look at objective scientific data and discover for ourselves whether “the entire scientific community” believes climate change is making wildfires worse.
Since 1998, NASA has been using satellite instruments to precisely measure the world’s total acreage burned by wildfires. NASA’s website reports a relatively steady and consistent decline in global wildfires since 1998. Meanwhile, since 1998, there has been a 24 percent decline in lands burned by wildfires.
The significant decline in wildfires since 1998 continues a trend that has been occurring throughout the era of modest global warming. In the peer-reviewed Journal of Geophysical Research, scientists report, “a notable declining rate of burned area globally” during the period from 1901 to 2007.
The same holds true in the United States. National Interagency Fire Center data show more than twice as much U.S. land burned on average each year prior to 1950 than in any wildfire year in recent decades.
So, who you gonna believe? The guy who makes observations based on objective scientific data or the columnist who is appalled that someone at The Heartland Institute isn’t enthralled with freedom-depriving socialism and its real-world embodiments in North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela?
Abcarian concludes her article with anecdotes of a few unfortunate people who recently died after spending time hiking in the desert heat. Even if we could blame climate change for people dying after hiking in the desert during summer, the facts show global warming saves far more lives – likely millions worldwide each year – than are lost due to climate change. A study in the peer-reviewed medical journal Lancet reports 20 times more people globally die from cold than from heat. The same holds true in the United States, where the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report more than twice as many people die in the United States from exposure to excessive cold than the number who die from exposure to excessive heat.
Abcarian’s sloppy attempts to hide beneficial climate trends and replace them with provably false propaganda appear to be motivated as much by political ideology than a lack of science knowledge. The leftist political ideology driving the climate change agenda is evidenced in many places. For example, in 2015, the United Nations executive director of its Framework Convention on Climate Change described the UN’s climate agenda as, “the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years.” That economic model, of course, is economic freedom and capitalism.
As another example, in 2019, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s (D-NY) chief of staff admitted the “green” agenda is motivated more by implementing progressive economic agendas than addressing the climate. It’s no wonder that Abcarian springs into action attacking objective scientific facts when such facts put her beloved leftist agenda at risk.
Dying from heat is not a political statement. The Los Angeles Times presenting false climate narratives, however, is.
James Taylor (JTaylor@heartland.org) is President of The Heartland Institute.
Originally published by The Center Square. Republished with permission.
James Taylor is the President of the Heartland Institute. Taylor is also director of Heartland’s Arthur B.
Robinson Center for Climate and Environmental Policy. Taylor is the former managing editor (2001-2014) of Environment & Climate News, a national monthly publication devoted to sound science and free-market environmentalism.