Yesterday I argued in circles about the value of studying lakes as sort of a canary in the coal mine for climate change. I still don’t have it figured out.
Fortunately for my ego, the Guardian has posed a question that is much easier to answer. It’s in the title of their article: “Why Don’t We Treat Climate Change With The Rigor We Give To Terrorist Attacks?”
Answer: Because climate change hasn’t killed anyone.
Weather continues to take a toll, although it is a pale shadow of the spectre it used to cast. Weather probably will always take lives.
But the 1C of warming the world has experienced has not made storms stormier, floods floodier or droughts droughtier. When the Guardian writes, “Extreme weather, water shortages and the spread of mosquito-borne diseases like Zika are all having very real effects on everyday realities globally, and they are all linked to a fast-heating earth system. Yet we still don’t treat climate change with the reverence we reserve for something like a terrorist attack” they are wrong on the facts. If anything the world is seeing less extreme weather. Dengue and Zika are traveling all right, but they’re traveling in the container ships and tourist luggage of humans, not expanding wildly due to climate change.
32,658 people were killed by terrorism in 2014 compared to 18,111 in 2013: the largest increase ever recorded.
Although a (frequently challenged and basically repudiated) report tried to implicate global warming in 300,000 deaths a year by attributing 40% of disaster deaths to climate change, the fact is that whatever terrors human-caused climate change hold for us, the gods are mercifully holding back from delivering.
The Guardian article does say one important thing: “…we only pay attention to climate change from time to time, and usually when it hits us in the face – Hurricane Sandy or drought if you are a farmer in California. But disaster rarely hits all humanity at the exact same time. And life goes on – our memories of tragedy fade, a survival mechanism also bequeathed us by evolution.”
I have been writing for years that it is a huge mistake for climate activists to hype and over-hype Xtreme Weather for just that reason. They have given hostages to fortune now and unless Xtreme Weather shows up, the people will begin to look askance. Which may explain some of the attempts to label weather phenomena as extreme when in fact they are pretty common. Heat waves in Moscow and France turned out not to be exceptional, nor did floods in Pakistan, droughts in Syria, Texas and California.
If there is a serious mistake that activists haven’t made in their campaign against the climate, I’m unaware of it. Their carefully thought-out strategy can be boiled down to once concept: Shoot yourself in the foot. Repeat as necessary.