Friday, October 12, 2012

Is climate change the number one threat to humanity?

There is a new paper out under this title by Indur Goklany, to be published in WIRES Climate Change.

Here is the abstract:
This paper challenges claims that global warming outranks other threats facing humanity through the foreseeable future (assumed to be 2085–2100). World Health Organization and British government‐sponsored global impact studies indicate that, relative to other factors, global warming's impact on key determinants of human and environmental well‐being should be small through 2085 even under the warmest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenario.
Specifically, over 20 other health risks currently contribute more to death and disease worldwide than global warming. Through 2085, only 13% of mortality from hunger, malaria, and extreme weather events (including coastal flooding from sea level rise) should be from warming. Moreover, warming should reduce future global population at risk of water stress, and pressures on ecosystems and biodiversity (by increasing net biome productivity and decreasing habitat conversion). That warming is not fundamental to human well‐being is reinforced by lower bound estimates of net gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. This measure adjusts GDP downward to account for damages from warming due to market, health, and environmental impacts, and risk of catastrophe. For both developing and industrialized countries, net GDP per capita—albeit an imperfect surrogate for human well‐being—should be (1) double the current US level by 2100 under the warmest scenario, and (2) lowest under the poorest IPCC scenario but highest under the warmest scenario through 2200. The warmest world, being wealthier, should also have greater capacity to address any problem, including warming. Therefore, other problems and, specifically, lowered economic development are greater threats to humanity than global warming. WIREs Clim Change 2012. doi: 10.1002/wcc.194


WhiteBeard said...

Reiner Grundmann

Curious that you don’t note that Indur Goklany is the author of the “paper” that the Wires Climate Change home page links under the Opinions tab, but do take care to provide a Digital Object Identifier.

Reiner Grundmann said...

I did a quick copy & paste f the abstract which had the DOI but not the name - have now inserted the author's name. As far as I can see the full text is not yet available.

Title and abstract are intriguing as many respondents in surveys say they are very concerned about climate change, but at the same time think that there are more important issues. For example, the recent post by Hans von Storch, Umfrage bei jungen Studenten illustrates this.

ghost said...

I am not sure, if climate change is the threat #1 at the moment and in the future. I think, it is (will be) a serious problem.

B U T...

I do not consider an opinion of a lobbyist connected to think tanks like Heartland Institute, CATO, and CEI as important. Furthermore, I do not know how a electrical engineer has any expertise in climate change risks analysis.

At last, I do not like people who tell bullshit about Malaria and DDT. It is really dangerous to do so.

Goklany is just another advocate of radical free market ideas. His opinion is: complete deregulation of the market will lead us into the paradise. I do not think, this is very helpful.

Reiner Grundmann said...

Ghost -
you are saying that Goklany may be right but this does not count since he has other ideas you hate. Correct?

ghost said...


please, your answer is foolish and insulting. hate... I hate Bayern München ;), but not radical free market ideas. I am saying the source is not trustworthy for me because the organizations and Goklany are well known to be biased because of ideological reasons.

Furthermore, it does matter to me if climate change is risk #1, 2, or 7. For me, it is a straw man debate. I think, it is a serious issue.

To the paper... did you read it? I do not believe GDP per capita, well-being, and CO2 emissions are necessarily directly coupled. Goklany cites indirectly (via Reference 42) the IPCC SRES report of 2000. This report does not show this. Rather the study says, for the same size of population or GDP per capita there can be very different emission scenarios. In contrast, Goklany tries to convince the reader, GDP per capita and greenhouse gas emissions are directly coupled, necessarily! This is the basis of his discussion. Rich world = less risks. Rich world = high emissions. High emissions = less risks.

I do not buy it, sorry.