Anthropomorphic Global Warming and The Merchants of Doom

Well, commenter hunter supplied me with the catch-phrase ‘Anthropomorphic Global Warming’, which to me means that for the activist community global warming is really a projection of all human failings onto the temperature record. And commenter Almost Iowa came up with ‘Merchants of Doom’, an appropriate response to Erik Conway’s and Naomi Oreskes’ ‘Merchants of Doubt.’

At some level it is clear that for many activists ‘Catastrophic Global Warming’ doesn’t really have much to do with climate change at all. It has long been noted that many of their concerns about climate change’s impacts on our planet were simply transferred from concerns about population growth and environmental issues.

It’s a little facile to say they just don’t like people, but it’s clear that when the same impacts predicted for global cooling in the 70s are now given as impacts for global warming, projection and transference are legitimate topics of conversation. When they trumpet the coming catastrophe for decades in every newspaper in the land and then accuse skeptics of calling them catastrophists, there is a disconnect from reality.

This disconnect is amplified by environmental NGOs, many of which receive large contributions from fossil fuel companies, and are stimulated by bogus reports of things like ‘300,000 deaths from climate change every year’, a paper published under the name of Kofi Annan.

These organizations are Merchants of Doom. They claim that Pacific islands are disappearing, when in fact they are growing in size. They point to receding glaciers (many of which started receding long before humans contributed CO2 to the atmosphere) and ignore the many glaciers that are growing.

merchants of doom

These Merchants of Doom produce videos like the No Pressure monstrosity:

They tell skeptics “We know where you live and we be many while you be few.” They tell us that polar bears are going extinct when in fact their numbers are growing. They tell us that global warming will cause malaria to spread across the world when in fact the number of countries affected by it is decreasing.

As just one example, I want to turn back for a minute to talk about Kofi Annan’s widely repeated claim that 300,000 deaths per year are due to climate change. His team writes, “An estimated 325 million people are seriously affected by climate change every year. This estimate is derived by attributing a 40 percent proportion of the increase in the number of weather-related disasters from 1980 to current to climate change and a 4 percent proportion of the total seriously affected by environmental degradation based on negative health outcomes.”

Considering that there has been no increase in either the frequency or intensity of hurricanes or cyclones, tornadoes or drought–considering that deaths from extreme weather have dropped 98%–considering that rapid population increase in areas long hit by severe weather has put many more in harm’s way–considering that the World Health Organization puts the same figure at 150,000–that seems to be a blanket statement using a finger in the air, not anything scientific.

Annan’s report contines: “The 40 percent proportion is based on an analysis of data provided by Munich Re on the past trend of weather-related disasters, as compared to geophysical (i.e. non climate change related) disasters over time.5 It compares well to a 2009 scientific estimate of the attribution of climate change to droughts.11 It is assumed that the 40 percent increase due to climate change based on frequency of disasters can be applied as an approximation for the number of people seriously affected and deaths. The 4 percent proportion is based on a study by WHO4 which looks at health outcomes from gradual environmental degradation due to climate change.12 Application of this proportion projects that more than 300,000 die due to climate change every year—roughly equivalent to having an Indian Ocean tsunami annually.13 The number of deaths from weather-related disasters and gradual environmental degradation due to climate change — about 315,000 deaths per year — is based on a similar calculation, (i.e. an attribution of 40 percent from weather-related disasters that translates into 40 percent of the death burden from weather disasters due to climate change and 4 percent of current death burden from disease14).”

But the WMO reports ” Weather, climate and water-related disasters are on the rise worldwide, causing loss of life and setting back economic and social development by years, if not decades. From 1970 to 2012, 8,835 disasters, 1.94 million deaths, and US$ 2.4 trillion of economic losses were reported globally as a result of hazards such as droughts, extreme temperatures, floods, tropical cyclones and related health epidemics, according to a new report.”

That averages to 46,190 deaths a year, many from cold weather. Even if you were to assume that 40% of the deaths were due to the 0.8C rise in temperatures or the nine inches of sea level rise since 1945, that’s still quite a bit less than either Kofi Annan or the WHO project. It would be 18,476, including 40% of those who froze to death.

Merchants of Doom? Yep. Make stuff up to scare people.

But Anthropomorphic Global Warming and the Merchants of Doom? Get Harrison Ford on the line–I have a project for him…



9 responses to “Anthropomorphic Global Warming and The Merchants of Doom

  1. Math check: 1.94 million divided by 42 years = 46,190. Somewhere a decimal point is trying to find its way home.

    And I find it implausible that 40% of weather disasters can be attributed to a slight increase in temperature, which was perhaps half as large at the beginning of the interval (1970). That would imply that incidence/severity has increased by two-thirds. [Increase of 0.4x from a base of 0.6x.] And that would be an average increase over the period 1970-2012; current rates would likely be at least double the base. Not that I have any reason to suspect that Munich Re might not be objective, mind you.

  2. When I talk to people about climate change, I like to put it in simple tangible terms that they can understand. For us in the Midwest, it means that our climate is warming at a rate equal to moving south a half mile a year.

    NASA tells us that the world has warmed 1.4F since 1880, which is the equivalent to moving south 70 miles – that would put the residents of Almost Iowa, well into Iowa. I have been to Iowa, it is hell on earth – but not because of temperature. It is because it is hard to find a good cup of coffee.

    People there still serve Folgers at the breakfast table…climate change caused that and it is the very definition of catastrophe.

  3. Any reference to Naomi Oreskes should include her long ties with the nuclear industry.

  4. Thank you for working up and developing the implications of Anthropomorphic Global Warming. The question that interests me recently is this: how many givens in any culture are a result of Anthropomorphic projection?

  5. I cannot help but feel that the recent drop in support for climate action is the result of a public grown tired of the rhetoric of catastrophe. People wisely back away when they feel they are being hustled.

    • AI, the challenge of this particular doomsday claptrap is that it is believed by some very powerful people who have immunized themselves against critical thinking.

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