‘Why I believe greens are scaremongering’

Trail of destruction: Hurricane Harvey killed 90 people in Texas in late summer. © Getty
by Ben Pile

The founder of the anti-environmentalism Climate Resistance blog, Ben Pile frequently writes about green issues for Spiked and was once a climate researcher for UKIP.

Are environmentalists exaggerating their claims? After a string of hurricanes over the summer, many pointed the finger at climate change. But this author believes their claims are bogus.

When Hurricane Harvey landed on Texas, it marked the end of a 12-year lull in major hurricanes hitting the USA. This period — which also featured a long “hiatus” in global warming, the failure of ice-free Arctic predictions and the growth of polar-bear populations — had long vexed green doomsayers.

Harvey, then, came as a great relief to climate alarmists. Mother Nature had once again unleashed her wrath on the home of Big Oil.

Climate pundits have rushed ahead of their science. “Harvey is what climate change looks like,” screeched meteorologist Eric Holthaus. “It’s a fact: climate change made Hurricane Harvey more deadly,” claimed Michael Mann, a professor at Pennsylvania State University.

The disparity between the world as greens see it and how it is in reality is absolutely enormous.

More deadly than what? More deadly than the hurricane in 1900 that killed 8,000 people in Galveston in Texas? Or Hurricane Audrey, which killed 416 Texans in 1957? Indeed, of the 30 most deadly hurricanes to land in the USA since 1850, just four occurred in the past half century. If Harvey is what “climate change looks like”, it looks a lot safer than the weather prior to global warming.

No matter what putative experts claim, the simple meteorological fact of the matter is that the number of hurricanes of all categories making landfall on America has fallen.

More importantly, the human cost of all forms of extreme weather — including hurricanes — has dropped even more sharply, in the USA and across the world. Whereas in the 1920s, extreme weather caused the deaths of 485,000 people per year worldwide, by the 2000s this figure had fallen to 35,000.

The disparity between the world as greens see it and how it is in reality is absolutely enormous. No evidence exists to say that global warming has put contemporary American lives at greater risk than those of their predecessors. There are theoretical claims that climate change ought to increase risks of extreme weather. But because extreme weather events are rare, statistics of weather events and their human impact do not yet bear out the theory.

Moreover, lacking a sense of proportion, greens seem incapable of understanding the difference between an increased risk of hurricanes and a catastrophic end to civilisation. Consensus science estimates the likely increase in hurricane intensity will be just two to ten per cent by 2100 – an outcome that doesn’t match up to green hype for 2017, let alone a century into the future. But point out the difference between alarmist claims and the science or facts, and greens will accuse you of climate denial.

That nature appears to have changed very little and that hurricanes and extreme weather continue to be rare events have not stopped the green-hack storytelling. But the bigger lie is that the world greens want would be a better one for today’s victims of extreme weather. Because although environmentalists claim it is the sheer power of storms that claims lives and causes destruction, it is in fact political failure that turns weather into a tragic threat.

Environmentalists imagine that the human impact of a weather event is equal to its magnitude. But disasters are mitigated by civil infrastructure, emergency services, political organisation and wealth. Wealthier societies suffer far less from the effects of extreme weather than poorer ones. Green antipathy towards economic development and what they call “unsustainable lifestyles” will increase the impact of extreme weather, not reduce it.

Environmentalism is the looming disaster, not the return of hurricanes.

This is an extract of a longer piece. For the full essay please see the link in Become An Expert.

You Decide

  1. Do you agree that environmentalists are scaremongering?

Activities

  1. Class debate: “This house believes that environmentalism has become a modern-day religion.”

Word Watch

Big Oil
Texas, the largest contiguous state (excluding the non-contiguous state of Alaska, which is touching Canada but not the 48 contiguous states of America) in the USA is centre of the country’s petroleum industry, producing 3.17m barrels every day.
Hurricane in 1900
Known as the Great Storm of 1900, it was the deadliest hurricane and natural disaster in US history. The storm was so bad that, had it not happened, many believe that Galveston would be a more significant city today than Houston.
By the 2000s this figure had fallen to 35,000
Taking into account global population increases, this means that extreme weather caused 241 deaths per million people in the 1920s, compared with just five per million in the 2000s.

PDF Download

Please click on "Print view" at the top of the page to see a print friendly version of the article.