Last December, in my article Big Mike’s Bean House, I attempted to demonstrate how misguided studies and impractical solutions impair the serious discussion of climate change. In particular, eliminating beef from our food sources is not a credible solution to mitigating climate change. It just will not happen.
Putting aside the argument of the credibility of climate science, the serious discussion of potential damage resulting from climate change is also impaired by unrealistic studies and bizarre results that researchers and the government actually stand behind.
Last fall the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a summary of research entitled The American Climate Prospectus (Prospectus) which attempts to quantify the future cost of climate change for the U.S. The Prospectus predicts an extremely large detrimental economic impact and serious health impacts from unmitigated climate change. The Prospectus, which predicts doom and gloom from unmitigated climate change, utilizes dubious studies with conclusions sometimes in conflict with common sense and elementary logic.
For example, a study sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) relied on by the GAO in the Prospectus concludes Pittsburgh’s extreme heat mortality rate in 2100 will be 75 times higher than Phoenix’s 2000 rate. Yet the same study acknowledges Pittsburgh’s climate in 2100 will not be as hot as Phoenix’s in 2000.
Another study utilized by the Prospectus—using data as old as 1968—led to the conclusion that unmitigated climate change will kill tens of thousands of people due to more globally-widespread temperatures above 90 degrees. However, the Prospectus ignored a newer study by the same researchers showing mortality rates on hot days have dropped substantially with the higher adoption of air conditioning.
Studies of economic damage resulting from climate change produce equally bizarre results. A study paper conducted by professors at Stanford and the University of California – Berkeley and published in Nature found that warm countries tended to experience lower economic growth in abnormally warm years while colder countries benefit.
Interestingly, the study finds colder countries will achieve unbelievable wealth and warmer countries will pay a devastating price as the global economy declines under the weight of unmitigated climate change. For instance, by 2100 the annual per capita income in Iceland will soar to $1.5 million. That is more than double the projected per capita income for any country other than Finland, which is projected to be $860,000. Mongolia (which currently ranks 118th in national per capita income) will rise to 7th and will be four times greater than the average American’s. The Canadian national economy will be seven times larger than China’s.
Of course, the results of the studies are nonsense. However, the GAO relies on such garbage to reach conclusions on the direction of the United States economy and publish serious-appearing Prospectuses on the damage to be inflicted by climate change. Environmentalists use the studies and reports to support their demands for immediate change to reduce the health and economic damage of climate change.
The obvious flaw is that most of the models rely on past human behaviors and results as well as small sample sizes to extrapolate predictions of future outcomes from the large, slow shifts in climate change. Humans and societies have an incredible capacity to adapt when faced with high economic or health cost pressures. The question of human adaptation is not an inconsequential factor for the study of the cost of future action or inaction. Yet, it is often ignored.
The 1960’s overpopulation scare was logical unless one assumed human adaption to a larger global population, improved farming methods, and expansion of a seemingly finite supply of resources. All of which occurred, and the overpopulation scare is rarely heard of today.
I could expound on the reasons the GAO would rely on obviously flawed data to paint an extreme picture on the ravages of climate change. I could discuss similar flaws associated with the basic climate change models and studies themselves. However, I don’t have time. I need to start packing my beach clothes to move to Iceland.
I hope you have a good month.
This article is influenced by an article entitled Doomsday Climate Scenarios are a Joke, written by Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute and published in the Wall Street Journal.