Monday, April 04, 2022

WaPo Rehashes Tired Allergy-Climate Change Connection, Misses the Bigger Good News

The Washington Post (WaPo) published a story today, titled “Climate change is making pollen season even worse across the country,” claiming the modest warming experienced over the past century is worsening allergy seasons. This may be true but misses the bigger picture. The extended pollen season is a result of a longer and more productive growing season for plant life. Despite the implications for allergy sufferers, enhanced plant life is a clear net benefit – not harm – of climate change.

The WaPo’s story’s author, Kasha Patel, writes:

Across the country, pollen season is starting earlier and intensifying because of rising global temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations. Previous research showed that pollen season lengthened by 20 days over the past three decades across North America, while pollen concentrations increased by 21 percent. The most affected places were the U.S. Southeast and Midwest.

WaPo’s story is perfect example of seasonal group think. Patel is recycling a story peddled by dozens of corporate media outlets over the past few weeks as spring and the corresponding allergy season has taken hold across the nation. You can find similar stories going back each spring over the years ever since climate change became the mainstream media’s go-to disaster story. For example, just two weeks ago, Climate Realism responded to a story making almost identical claims written by Seth Borenstein for the Associated Press.

“Climate change has already made allergy season longer and pollen counts higher, but you ain’t sneezed nothing yet,” wrote Borenstein.

The anecdotes in the two stories differ, but the message is the same: Climate change is making people with allergies sneeze and cough more.

As Climate Realism has noted on multiple occasions in the past when climate alarmed media mavens have raised the specter of worsening allergies, bad news for allergy sufferers is good news for the planet. NASA’s satellite measurements, for instance, show the “longer, warmer growing seasons caused by climate change,” along with more atmospheric carbon dioxide, are spurring a tremendous greening of the Earth. NASA reports these factors have produced a 10 percent increase in global plant life across the past 20 years.

“The Sahara Desert and other desert regions are shrinking and being filled with life,” notes the Climate Realism article, commenting on NASA’s report. “Areas with existing plant life are becoming more lush with vegetation.”

The downside of lusher, more abundant plant growth is that the increased pollen emitted means harder times for allergy sufferers. Despite this, expanding, more verdant ecosystems are good for pollinators, animals, and humans alike.

Focusing on a drawback of a greener world, worsening allergies, while ignoring its broad benefits of more trees, shrubs, grasses, flowers, and food crops, represents poor journalism. Global greening has contributed to the largest decline in global hunger in history, and the greater plant growth not only removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, but the allergy causing pollen it emits is great for pollinating insects like bees, and birds. Most people, including many allergy suffers I suspect, would likely agree that harsher allergies, while unwelcome, are a small price to pay for a more fecund world. Perhaps, if Patel or the WaPo write on this topic again, they might provide a balanced examination of the benefits as well as the costs resulting from longer growing seasons.


Study Finds Warmer Climate Periods Didn’t Lead To More Conflict

An analysis of 1,000 years of European wars finds that more war and conflict are not linked to warm climates.

One of the scare stories used by the global warming alarmists is the claim that climate extremes produced by ‘man-made climate change’ will lead to greater strife and more bloody wars.

But that assumption is not holding up so well according to the results of a new study by Carleton et al: “A Song of Neither Ice nor Fire: Temperature Extremes had No Impact on Violent Conflict Among European Societies During the 2nd Millennium CE“.

The authors looked at the last 1,000 years of bloody conflict across Europe and compared how well they matched up to the climate extremes between the years 1005 – 1980 A.D.

The authors compared a well-known annual historical conflict record to four published temperature reconstructions for Central and Western Europe.

What did the authors find? Did they find these warm climate periods led to bitter conflicts and so we’ll be sorry if we keep driving SUVs?

The results surprised the usual doomsayers. Warmer climate periods did not lead to more conflict and wars.

The authors sum up their findings: Our results indicated that none of the temperature reconstructions could be used to explain variation in conflict levels.

It seems that shifts to extreme climate conditions may have been largely irrelevant to the conflict generating process in Europe during the second millennium CE.”


Climate Change Benefitting -- Not Harming -- Health

The London-based charitable foundation, Wellcome, published a report claiming climate change poses a global public health threat. This is false. Contrary to the Wellcome’s report, data show deaths related to extreme weather events and non-optimum temperatures have declined substantially during the recent period of modest warming.

The authors of the Wellcome report, titled “Explained: How climate affects health,” write:

"Climate change is a global health problem already impacting millions of people around the world.... Extreme climate and weather events, such as droughts, floods and heatwaves, are increasing in severity and frequency across the world. These changes are harming our health on a large scale."

The report then goes on to assert deaths and illnesses related to extreme weather and non-optimum temperatures are rising due to climate change.

Wellcome’s claims are refuted by available data. Even the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) admits is there is little or no evidence for an increase in extreme weather events.

Official data from the IPCC and various U.S. government agencies presented in Climate at a Glance: Drought, Climate at a Glance: Floods, and Climate at a Glance: U.S. Heatwaves show these weather events have not been worsening, neither becoming more frequent nor more severe. Data suggests some extreme weather trends have even moderated in recent decades.

Since, as demonstrated in the articles discussed above, weather is not becoming more extreme, it is impossible for Wellcome to logically imply that an increase in extreme weather events is causing an increase in deaths.

Indeed, data spanning 100 years of “global warming” back to 1920 presented in Climate Realism, here, for example, show deaths resulting from climate related events have fallen to a historic low, and now nearly approach zero.

Summarizing the data Lomborg writes;

"Back in the 1920s, the death count from climate-related disasters was 485,000 on average every year. In the last full decade, 2010-2019, the average was 18,357 dead per year or 96% lower. In the first year of the new decade, 2020, the preliminary number of dead was even lower at 8,086 — 98% lower than the 1920s average.

But because the world’s population also quadrupled at the same time, the climate-related *death risk* has dropped even faster. The death risk is the probability of you dying in any one year. In the 1920s, it was 243 out of a million people that would die from climate-related disasters.

In the 2010s, the risk was just 2.5 per million people — a drop of 99%. Now, in 2020, the preliminary number is 1 per million — 99.6% lower."

Wellcome’s scary claim that adverse temperature related deaths are increasing is equally false. Data demonstrate premature mortality linked to extreme temperatures have also declined dramatically.

On July 1, 2021 The Lancet published what is arguably the largest study ever to examine excess mortality associated with temperature. The study’s authors, 68 scientists representing universities and research institutes in 33 countries spanning all regions of the world, came to two very clear conclusions: Cold temperatures contribute to far more deaths each year than warmer temperatures; and deaths associated with extreme temperatures, hot or cold, are declining.

The authors wrote, “[i]mportantly, cold-related death decreased 0.51 per cent from 2000 to 2019, while heat-related death increased 0.21 per cent, leading to a reduction in net mortality due to cold and hot temperatures.”

Because cold related deaths outnumber deaths tied to extreme heat by 10 to 1, the study found hundreds of thousands fewer people have died in response to non-optimum temperatures each year as the earth has warmed in recent decades.

This study confirms what research previously published in The Lancet, the Southern Medical Journal, and other outlets, has consistently shown: Cold is the biggest temperature related killer, not heat, and as he earth warms the number of deaths related to extreme temperatures is falling dramatically.

Wellcome uses inferences, innuendo, and cites anecdotal cases to claim human health and welfare is suffering as a result of anthropogenic climate change. Wellcome’s alarming report may play well to its donor base or to its target audience in the alarmist press and activist community, reinforcing as it does the false narrative that climate change is making everything worse, but is fails to tell the truth.

A foundation truly concerned about helping “everyone to benefit from science’s potential to improve health and save lives,” would follow the science and be more attentive to the data. If Wellcome did so, it would likely redirect its resources and grants to research into the causes and consequences of pandemics, human addictions, cancers, vector-borne diseases, or other issues which demonstrably adversely impact the health of millions of people each year, rather than squandering valuable resources promoting false climate change-health harm scare stories.


Coal mine expansion approved in Australia

Whitehaven Coal has received approval to expand a major coal mine in NSW’s Narrabri after a review by the state’s Independent Planning Commission which has imposed 152 conditions on the project including new measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The approval was immediately slammed by critics concerned the mine extension was at odds with urgent climate change goals, with the Australia Institute branding the decision “reckless and dangerous” given the nation’s need to cut pollution.

The Sydney-based coal miner has been operating Narrabi since 2012 where it employs 500 people and previously held a licence to produce 11m tonnes a year of coal until 2031.

The new expansion extends the life of the mine until 2044 and allows an extra 82m tonnes of thermal coal to be extracted after the IPC approved its plan.

“The Commission finds that, on balance, the application is not inconsistent with ecologically sustainable development principles, and that the project would achieve an appropriate balance between relevant environmental, economic and social considerations,” the IPC’s statement of reasons said.

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment had spent more than a year reviewing the project and gave the green light in January 2022 for the scheme which will extract coal to the south of the existing mine.

The IPC said it took into account the NSW government’s policies on mining and emissions reductions and objectors’ concerns on greenhouse gas emissions, including the increased methane that is predicted to be released beyond 2030.

“The Commission has set strict performance measures to curb the intensity of the mine’s Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions, which Whitehaven must comply with during the life of the mine,” the IPC said.

“Whitehaven will also be required by the Commission to complete an Emissions Minimisation Plan to investigate and implement innovative, economically-feasible ways to further reduce the mine’s Scope 1 emissions, including through deploying existing, emerging and future technologies.”

The Australia Institute slammed the IPC’s decision.

“The IPC claims that approving new coal production out to 2044 is ‘not inconsistent’ with net zero emissions goals or the Paris Agreement,” said Rod Campbell, research director with the Australia Institute.

“This will be a particularly dirty coal mine with massive direct methane emissions, so the NSW government cannot hide from the fact these emissions will be its responsibility.”

Activists Lock The Gate Alliance said it was “incensed” by the decision.

“We know that Whitehaven has no problem violating the conditions placed on its mining operations. The conditions imposed by Commissioners are cold comfort and hold no credibility,” Lock The Gate spokeswoman Georgina Woods said.

The IPC said Scope 3 emissions, pollution by Whitehaven’s coal customers, would add to climate change but said the pollution would be covered by international environmental pacts such as the 1.5 degree target outlined in the Paris climate accord.

“The Commission acknowledges that while the project’s Scope 3 emissions would contribute to anthropogenic climate change, they are more appropriately regulated and accounted for through broader national policies and international agreement such as the Paris Agreement,” the IPC said in its statement of reasons.

A number of submissions raised fears that the Narrabri extension would be inconsistent with the NSW government’s emissions reduction targets for 2030 – where it targets a 50 per cent but below 2005 levels – and a long-term net zero goal for 2050.

However, the IPC said the coal mine was consistent with broader goals and said Whitehaven was required to “continually investigate” technologies to cut fugitive methane emissions.

“The Commission is of the view that the project is not inconsistent with the NSW Climate Change Policy Framework, the Net Zero plan or Australia’s current obligations under the Paris agreement in respect of Australia’s current nationally determined contributions.”




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