Sunday, August 6, 2017

Bjørn Lomborg On The Recent Study That Claims 100,000 People Will Die Each Year Due To Climate Change

From his Facebook page.
"Based on a pathetically wrong study which is timed just right for great coverage.

The study specifically excludes any adaptation and assumes a laughably small number of cold deaths. Both dramatically push up damages and push down benefits.

Excluding adaptation leads to dramatic exaggeration of impacts. The study assumes that *no one* will make any adjustments over the next 83 years to accommodate higher temperatures, like cooler buildings, more greenery, more light surfaces and more air conditioning. Even the commentators on the paper are forced to point out that this is unrealistic: "People are known to adapt and become less vulnerable than previously to extreme weather conditions because of advances in medical technology, air conditioning, and thermal insulation in houses."

One study shows that this is systematic: "We find that studies based on projected changes in climate indicate substantial increases in heat-related mortality and morbidity in the future, while observational studies based on historical climate and health records show a decrease in negative impacts during recent warming." https://link.springer.com/artic…/10.1007%2Fs40641-015-0016-4

Another study from the US shows that without adaptation, you get significantly more heat deaths, but with adaptation, you get much lower impacts and possibly negative. http://www.nber.org/papers/w23271

A similar kind of analysis we know from adaptation/no adaptation of sea level rise: For no adaptation, 2m sea level rise would cause 187,000,000 to have to move. With adaptation, it is 305,000 – 600 times fewer! (http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/369/1934/161)
Simultaneously, the study honestly shows that cold deaths will drop by 98%, because of global warming. That sounds like an upside.

But because they use the catastrophe database, which picks up almost no cold deaths (because cold deaths don't happen in the thousands, but one-by-one in old peoples homes), they assume that only 100 people die each year of cold in Europe.

One hundred.

And hence, the benefit of global warming's 98% cold death reduction is just 98 fewer deaths.
Back in reality, just the UK government estimates that each year, in winter, 25-40,000 people die from cold. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/…/Winter-death-toll-to-exceed-40…).

The world's biggest Lancet study found that over 14 years, more than 658,000 people died from cold, or that each year from 1993-2006 47,000 people died from cold, compared to 1,600 heat deaths). And this is just in the UK. http://www.thelancet.com/…/PIIS0140-6736(14)62114-0/abstract
So, the study laughably underestimates cold deaths by a factor of *at least* 500. Hence, it laughably underestimates the positive impact of climate change similarly. This alone could have entirely reversed the findings.

Similar results that global warming because of fewer cold deaths will actually lead to *fewer* overall deaths has been shown for the UK and for Australia (http://www.thelancet.com/…/lan…/PIIS2542-5196(17)30084-0.pdf).

In summary, the study assumes that nobody behaves like real people (and adapt) and eliminate almost all cold deaths so to avoid any benefits to warming.

Hard to see how this should help make better decisions.

Here is the study: http://www.thelancet.com/…/PIIS2542-5196(17)30082-7/fulltext

And the comment: http://www.thelancet.com/…/lan…/PIIS2542-5196(17)30084-0.pdf

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-40835663"

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