Wall Street Journal: Climate Deaths Hit Record Low in 2021

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Climate-related disasters and deaths have been decreasing steadily over the last hundred years, despite tales of dread and woe from alarmists, climate expert Bjorn Lomborg writes in the Wall Street Journal Thursday.

Earlier this week, for instance, Pope Francis compared the fallout from climate change to that of World War II, which saw the deaths of some 75 million people, including civilians and military personnel. Such hyperbole is disingenuous, Lomborg suggests, since weather-related deaths have decreased every year even as temperatures have risen slightly.

“Activists constantly talk about the existential threat climate change poses and the deaths natural disasters inflict — but they never quite manage to total up these deaths,” notes Lomborg, who is president of the Copenhagen Consensus.

The facts do not favor alarmists, Lomborg notes, since the truth is that people “are safer from climate-related disasters than ever before.”

Moreover, Lomborg observes, weather-related damage as a percent of gross domestic product is also declining, and from 1990 to 2020 it dropped significantly: from 0.26 percent of global GDP to 0.18 percent.

And even the data that appear to make climate disasters appear more frequent than before tell a different story, he writes.

“As the U.S. Geological Survey points out, when databases show more earthquakes, it isn’t because there are actually more earthquakes, but because they have been recorded better over time,” he observes, with equipment that registers small earthquakes that would have gone unnoticed decades ago.

Similarly, “the historical record from dozens of peer-reviewed studies shows the number of landfalling U.S. hurricanes has actually declined slightly since 1900,” he adds.

Data on climate-related deaths “tells an incredible and heartening story,” he writes.

Whereas a century ago, “almost half a million people died on average each year from storms, floods, droughts, wildfires and extreme temperatures,” in 2020, the number dropped to just 14,000.

The year 2021 is looking better still, with a death toll of just 5,500 people from climate-related disasters so far, which suggests a year-end total in the neighborhood of 6,600, a record low.

“That’s almost 99% less than the death toll a century ago,” Lomborg writes. “The global population has quadrupled since then, so this is an even bigger drop than it looks.”

As climate alarmists whip themselves into a frenzy in Glasgow, trying to get governments to adopt astronomically expensive and ineffective measures to curb climate change, the facts seem to suggest that a little sobriety goes a long way.


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