Global Warming Facts versus Claims

April 23, 2014

Claims that tackling climate change would be cost-effective are nonsense, says Bjørn Lomborg, director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center.

Politicians routinely point to global warming as the world's greatest challenge, simultaneously promising that they can solve it with low-cost solutions.

  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently called climate change the "greatest challenge of our generation," with catastrophe sure to ensue if the world fails to address the problem.
  • In Europe, a 2006 report commissioned by the British government, the Stern Review, insisted that global warming damage was the equivalent of 5 percent to 20 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), but promised cures that would cost just 1 percent of GDP.
  • And politicians have promised not just low costs to fix the problem, but an abundance of green jobs and energy security.

Unfortunately, this narrative is mostly wrong.

  • The latest report from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirmed that global warming has slowed, even stopped, over the last 15 years, and that climate models far exaggerate temperature trends.
  • The IPCC puts its latest temperature rise cost estimates at just 0.2 to 2 percent of GDP.
  • Notably, governments tried to strike this finding from the report, with British, Belgian, Norwegian, Japanese and American politicians wanting it rewritten or deleted altogether.
  • Officials had similar reactions to the IPCC's admission that climate policies would actually be more expensive than previously claimed (costing up to 11 percent of GDP by 2100), again seeking deletion.

Experts have known these truths, but politicians and the media have used exaggerated warming claims to promote poor policies, subsidizing green power with little actual benefit.

Source: Bjørn Lomborg, "Global Warming's Upside-Down Narrative," Project Syndicate, April 17, 2014.

 

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