A Catastrophic Viewpoint


Many so-called news sources routinely publish melodramatic opinion pieces masquerading as news. They usually contain wild exaggerations, misleading statements, and outright lies. Perhaps not fake news but certainly irresponsible journalism.

I recently came across this headline on Google news. It is sourced from Business Insider. http://www.businessinsider.com It is typical of alarmist rhetoric and somewhat over the top but I am going to include it in its entirety along with my criticisms in red italics. I have left practically all his links intact, although many simply lead back to sensationalist pieces in this same publication. As I have stated many times before, make up your own mind after considering and evaluating as much evidence as is available.

I do like to present both sides of the argument but this was just too far out to be left uncommented.

I have a deep dislike for these headlines and the following wildly exaggerated, sensationalistic, and opinionated articles. They are often calculated to incite panic or to sell more advertising. There is, of course, no attempt to include reasonable counter-argument. I will include links to some, where appropriate

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere just hit its highest level in 800,000 years and scientists predict deadly consequences.

The data for the first statement is practically all proxy with only a tiny percentage of recent observation. The accuracy of proxy data to parts per million is highly suspect. The second statement implies that all scientists agree. Actually very few predict imminent dire consequences.  A few will profess the possibility of some catastrophic type results at some time in the future.



The average concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere just topped 410 parts per million, according to measurements from Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. Data from one spot. How do you determine an average from one measurement? There is little doubt the data is accurate but the inferences are questionable.

It's the highest CO2 level in the 800,000 years for which we have good data. Again, the data is proxy and where is it?

This is expected to have a catastrophic effect on human health and the planet itself. Expected by whom? Experiment and observations have shown many beneficial effects of CO2 enrichment of the atmosphere. You really only have to look out your door to note the absence of catastrophe in spite of 40 years of warnings.



We have a pretty good idea of what Earth's atmosphere has looked like for the past 800,000 years. Most of which has been darn cold. Data also suggests that there were several periods of the Holocene that were warmer than today, in spite of very low CO2. http://www.biocab.org/Holocene.html

Humans like us — Homo sapiensevolved only about 200,000 years ago, but ice-core records reveal intricate details of our planet's history from long before humans existed. By drilling more than 3 kilometers deep into the ice sheets over Greenland and Antarctica, scientists can see how temperature and atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels have changed since then. This is some of the proxy evidence I have discussed. There are some concerns. The exact timing of events indicated is difficult. Error ranges may be large for some types of data. It is possible that apparent correlations of some indicators may be coincidental.

From that record, we know the atmosphere and the air that we breathe has never had as much carbon dioxide in it as it does today.It also shows that CO2 increases in the atmosphere happened after the climate warmed so was not likely the cause of warming.

For the first time in recorded history, the average monthly level of CO2 in the atmosphere exceeded 410 parts per million in April, according to obsehttp://www.businessinsider.comrvations at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. At the Mauna Loa observatory.

The record is not a coincidence — humans have rapidly transformed the air we breathe by pumping CO2 into it over the past two centuries. In recent years, we've pushed those gas levels into uncharted territory. This is simply not true. There is evidence in the geological record that levels may have been as high as 7000 ppm at one time and certainly much higher than today's levels at other times. http://www.biocab.org/Carbon_Dioxide_Geological_Timescale.html

That change has inevitable and scary consequences. Research indicates that if unchecked, increased CO2 levels could lead to tens of thousands of pollution-related deaths, reach a point at which it slows human cognition, and contribute to rising sea levels, searing heat waves, and superstorms that scientists project as effects of climate change. These scenarios are the results of climate models only. So far the models have been quite spectacularly wrong. CO2 in itself is not a pollutant and would have to reach impossible levels to cause deaths. If CO2 increases warmth, there is no evidence that pollution would increase as a result. This is pure end of the world alarmism with no basis in logic or science.

"As a scientist, what concerns me the most is what this continued rise actually means: that we are continuing full speed ahead with an unprecedented experiment with our planet, the only home we have," Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist, said on Twitter. Ms. Hayhoe is a born-again Christian with the same fervor towards climate change dogma. Her credentials for climate science are suspect. This is her bio according to her. http://katharinehayhoe.com/wp2016/biography/ It reads like a glowing resume meant to land a cushy job. She has a high opinion of herself and an absolute trust that her views are the ultimate truth.

Vast glaciers in West Antarctica seem to be locked in an irreversible thaw linked to global warming that may push up sea levels for centuries.NASA  If there is, in fact, more ice melting each summer than is being added each winter, it will likely take centuries to raise sea levels noticeably. There is very little indication of current sea level rise.

Breathing the air of a new world

For the 800,000 years for which we have records, average global CO2 levels fluctuated between about 170 ppm and 280 ppm. Once humans started to burn fossil fuels in the industrial era, things changed rapidly. This is probably true but all the rise may not be due to human activity and probably isn’t. This begs the question. Were we better off with CO2 at 170 ppm or are things better now at 410 ppm? It is a common belief that things are getting worse but life in 1850 and before was brutal and hard.

Only in the industrial era has the number risen above 300 ppm. The concentration first crept above 400 ppm in 2013, and it continues to climb. According to best guess estimates based on Mauna Loa data.

There's a debate among scientists about the last time CO2 levels were this high. It might have been during the Pliocene era, 2 million to 4.6 million years ago, when sea levels were 60 to 80 feet higher than today. Or it may have been in the Miocene, 10 million to 14 million years ago, when seas were more than 100 feet higher than now. The Miocene was a warmer period of Earth’s past. Cause and effect are not established. The warmth may have caused the rise in CO2. The Pliocene was actually a period of cooling leading to our current ice ages. How did that happen with high CO2 levels? Life also flourished in the Miocene and only became stressed as the glaciers advanced. Plate tectonics and mountain building allowed the great ice caps to form and lowered sea levels.

In our 800,000-year record, it took about 1,000 years for CO2 levels to increase by 35 ppm. We're currently averaging an increase of more than 2 ppm a year, meaning we could hit an average of 500 ppm within the next 45 years. Big Maybe.

Humans have never had to breathe air like this. And it does not seem to be good for us. Why not?

Global temperature tracks very closely to atmospheric levels of CO2. The potential effects of higher average temperatures include tens of thousands of deaths from heat waves, increased air pollution that leads to lung cancer and cardiovascular disease, higher rates of allergies and asthma, more extreme weather events, and the spread of diseases carried by ticks and mosquitoes — something we're already seeing. Global temperature does not track CO2 well. About the only time it did was for a short period of the 20th century. There are no observations to support any of the other statements. The spread of diseases by insect has many other explanations such as increasing deer populations spreading ticks, the regulation of DDT and other pesticides, and closer contact between people and their pets with nature.

Global annual temperature and CO2 levels, 1959 to 2016 The charts are below.

Higher levels of CO2 also exacerbate ozone pollution. One 2008 study found that for every degree Celsius the temperature rises because of CO2 levels, ozone pollution can be expected to kill an additional 22,000 people via respiratory illness, asthma, and emphysema. A recent study found that overall, air pollution already kills 9 million people every year. So 10 degrees would kill an extra 220,000. Sad but hardly a major concern. Many more could be saved by reducing other forms of air pollution. Put the effort where it will have the best effect.

Other research has raised even more concerns. The average CO2 level doesn't represent the air most of us breathe. Cities tend to have far more CO2 than average — and those levels rise even higher indoors. Some research indicates that it may have a negative effect on human cognition and decision-making. (There's a full list of possible ways climate change will affect human health on an archived Environmental Protection Agency page.) Climate change can have effects both detrimental and beneficial to humans but CO2 is not a health concern of note.            Research is showing ever weakening links between CO2 and climate.

President Barack Obama's EPA ruled in 2009 that CO2 was a pollutant that needed to be regulated under the Clean Air Act, though the Trump administration is reevaluating that ruling. About time logic was used.

Pedestrians crossing a road on a smoggy day in Nanjing, China.Thomson Reuters

Drowning in CO2. The picture shows either fog or particulate smog. CO2 is invisible.

The human health effects of CO2 increases are just one part of the bigger story here.

The change we've seen in CO2 levels recently has been much more rapid than the historical trends. Some experts think we're on track to hit 550 ppm by the end of the century, which would cause average global temperatures to rise by 6 degrees Celsius. For context, the increase in superstorms, rising sea levels, and spreading tick-borne disease that we're already seeing comes after a 0.9-degree rise. Six degrees is a worst case scenario not borne out by recent research. Climate sensitivity may be very low. Sensitivity is calculated as degrees C per doubling of CO2. 550 ppm is about a doubling from pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm. We have already seen about half of that with only a 0.9 (your figure) degree rise. So I would guess we will only see about at most a 1.8-degree rise over more than 2 centuries. At most, because the warming effect diminishes rapidly as concentrations increase.

Data from Parrenin et al., 2013; Snyder et al., 2016; Bereiter et al., 2015.Ben Henley and Nerilie Abram/The Conversation

Projections of sea-level rise will only get bigger as CO2 levels continue to climb. Recent research indicates no connection between sea level and CO2. The connection to temperature is not robust either. Melt of pole ward glaciers depends on higher summer temperatures without a corresponding increase in winter snowfall. So far increasing temperatures are primarily in winter. Warmer ocean waters circulating to the poles may cause melt, however.

Right now, carbon-dioxide emissions are still rising. The goal set in the Paris agreement on climate change is to limit the global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius or less. But as a recent feature in the journal Nature put it, we're on track for more than 3 degrees of warming. A moment ago it was six degrees. Typical tactic of constantly moving the goalposts.

The latest measurements from Mauna Loa show that if we want to avoid that, we'll need to make some dramatic changes very quickly. It is not evident that changes are even necessary. Further, Nobody can tell us how rapid and sufficient changes are even possible. Changes that could easily be more damaging in terms of the human condition than warming could possibly be. The other possibility is that climate change could be a cooling leading to another major glaciation. That possibility is far more alarming than a few degrees of warming.

The Media and Climate Change, Headlines Today



Record-breaking climate change pushes world into ‘uncharted territory’ The Guardian


“2016 was the hottest year on record” Is the very first sentence of the article. “a new high for the third year in a row” it continues. A link is provided for support, but it leads to another Guardian article. Perhaps you could find some data if you followed enough links but I am quite sure it would be cherry-picked.


It might be true that 2016 was the warmest year of some records if you knew the record they were talking about. It appears their record is from instrumental data from before the industrial era. That would be about the last 140 years. Probably the most unreliable record available, partly because of the methods of measurement. It would be nice to know whose version of this data is being used. It has been massaged and adjusted in multiple ways by multiple organizations and no longer bears much relevance to the original raw data.


My data is from the UAH satellite temperature dataset which covers a 38 year period.



It might, arguably, be the hottest year in the satellite record but the margin is only 0.02ºC above the 1998 anomaly. The margin of error is 0.10ºC. The satellite record extends from 1980 and anomalies are calculated from the 1980 to 2010 average.


“Both 1998 and 2016 are anomalies, outliers, and in both cases, we have an easily identifiable cause for that anomaly: A powerful El Niño Pacific Ocean warming event.” Dr. John Christy


Near the end of the article, we find this statement “The new data shows the Earth has now risen about 1.1C above the levels seen before the industrial revolutionThis statement may be true if we are confident enough in our records from before the industrial revolution and our measurements today. The fact that is missed is that this is a marginal temperature increase and an outlier is being used to identify a trend. Probably this amount of warming would be totally unnoticeable if it happened throughout one day.


“2017 sees more rising temperatures and climate extremes, records show”  Daily Mail


The Daily Mail headline is toned down somewhat and is less sensationalist. They do cite the WMO as their source.


The WMO (World Meteorological organization) is an arm of the UN and closely associated with the IPCC. I think that their agendas might be a little questionable in that any evidence running counter to their dangerous climate change scenario is almost certain to be downplayed or ignored.


They show satellite-generated images to support the premise of low ice coverage at the poles. Look closely. There are red, or orange lines, showing the average ice extent for the 1980 to 2010 satellite record. Are you still alarmed? Note that the satellite record is a very short period of geological time or even of human civilization. Daily information about ice at the poles is available at Arctic Sea Ice News.


balmy weather in Canada” I live in Canada and we certainly did have some balmy weather, but we also had some frigid weather. None of which seemed unusual to me. The warm bits were certainly welcome.


The last of the article was filled with unsupported statements obviously meant to emphasize the risks of a warming climate. As usual, there was absolutely no mention of possible benefits.


It would seem that many are still desperately trying to convince us of the reality of a warming climate. Hey, we get it. The climate is warming a bit. We just don’t all agree with your end of the world scenarios. Cut out the sensationalism and try some balanced reporting for a change.



Extreme and unusual' climate trends continue after record 2016  BBC NEWS


This one is better in that it immediately gives a link to the WMO press release as their source. This is the quote that I believe the headline is based on “Extreme weather and climate conditions have continued into 2017.” Apparently, they felt the need to make the statement just a little stronger and more specific to climate.Climate alarmists have always insisted that weather incidents cannot be used as proof that the climate is not warming. I agree wholeheartedly. Then why are they using extreme weather incidents to imply that catastrophic climate change is happening?


The BBC has not added any editorial or staff opinion and has simply reported quotes from WMO and others. The concern would be, that they never sought any opposing or more moderate input. The headline itself is presented as an unquestioned fact.


Is global warming driving diabetes? Cosmos

This headline makes it sound like they are actually taking the cited study seriously. Purportedly published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care, I was unable to find any reference to the study at their website. Apparently, a study showing a correlation between temperature and incidents of diabetes.


As ridiculous as the conclusions appear, I have heard, or seen, it quoted from several sources. Next thing, we will be blaming a warming climate for our hemorrhoids.

A headline found March 29, 2017.


"Changing jet stream, extreme weather linked to humans: study"  CBC news

First of all, this is a "study". Not an experiment nor observation. It is a study of data. A poor cousin of experiment or observation.

This is one of the credits. "We came as close as one can to demonstrating a direct link between climate change and a large family of extreme recent weather events," said Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science and director, Earth System Science Center, Penn State. Remember "hockey stick" Mann? About as biased a source of anthropogenic climate change as you could find.

This is the article in Nature, which is presumably the source. "Both the models and observations suggest this signal has only recently emerged from the background noise of natural variability." is quoted directly from that article. Notice that the word "suggest" is about the strongest reference to a conclusion that we find. In other words, they have teased out some data to support a hypothesis. I challenge you to read that article and actually make some sense out of it.

I also challenge you to find any justification for the CBC headline.




Scientists develop system that can convert air into water

This from the Globe and Mail apparently sourced from J.D. CAPELOUTO LONDON — Reuters

The only way I know of to turn air into water is by adding hydrogen and setting it on fire.

The system referred to is designed to condense water vapor from the night air. The headline suggests something akin to magic.

Reuters and the Globe and Mail are both highly respected sources but my faith in even the best has been much eroded by headlines such as this. How many times will children hear something like this repeated by their parents or teachers?


Thousands of years of Arctic ice samples destroyed after University of Alberta freezer malfunctions -- National Post                         

This one is just misleading. First of all, it was 180 meters or so of ice cores that were melted, not years. They did represent proxy climate data for a period of years for an area of Canada. Thousands of years is way too imprecise. Is that 2 thousand or 999. Although a loss, the data is not destroyed as it can be replaced with another coring operation. All that was really destroyed was ice that held climate data. Perhaps it is costly in time and dollars, but it is hardly the disaster implied by the headline.



Arctic sea ice may vanish even if world achieves climate goal, study says -- CBC   

Technically correct this simply gives the quoted article a little too much credibility.

"A 2 C rise would still mean a 39 percent risk that ice will disappear in the Arctic Ocean in summers, they said. Ice was virtually certain to survive, however, with just 1.5 C of warming."

That quote, to me, would indicate no predictive value. Even at 60% I would consider the premise failed without further indicative evidence. But then, I am a better gambler than I am a scientist.

In the article, there is a subheading with the attached assumption made without any support whatsoever. It is just as likely that life becomes easier as a result of less sea ice.

"Arctic sea ice has been shrinking steadily in recent decades, damaging the livelihoods of Indigenous peoples and wildlife such as polar bears"

If such a statement is unsupported it should at least be qualified with a word like "possibly."



Scientists blame global warming for new phenomenon called ‘river piracy’

 From Global news.

Sometimes the headline writers manage to include outright lies. The only possible new phenomenon is the coining of the term "river piracy". Stream capture has happened in the past and in fact, has happened on this very glacier.

"Clague began studying this glacier years ago for the Geological Survey of Canada. He observed that Kluane Lake, which is Yukon's largest lake, had changed its water level by about 40 feet (12 meters) a few centuries ago. He concluded that the Slims River that feeds it had appeared as the glacier advanced, and a decade ago predicted the river would disappear again as the glacier retreated."

"A technique published in 2016 by UW co-author Gerard Roe shows a 99.5 percent probability that this glacier's retreat is showing the effects of modern climate change."          

The above quotes are from Science Daily

This was changed to "The scientists calculate that there is only a 1 in 200 chance that the retreating glacier and river piracy is completely natural without man-made global warming." The doubling of numbers, although technically correct, implies an increased certainty. All the scientists were stating is that some portion of the melt-back was caused by modern warming. Although implied, they did not even mention the man-made portion, the degree of which is left open and could be any number between 0 and 99%. It could just as easily be interpreted to mean that some portion between 0 and 99% was completely natural.


Antarctic meltwater lakes threaten sea levels - study

From news 24 but used by other media outlets as well.

This headline is mostly just confusing. Probably not so bad for most reporting, but science news would seem to demand a higher standard.

 The article actually refers to two articles in Nature, one which seems to make a case for meltwater hydrology inducing instability in ice shelves and the other suggesting that it may help stabilize them. I only had access to lead abstracts as the bulk of the published studies were behind a paywall. It did seem that the conclusions depended on a prediction of continued warming. It seems the data used in the study were aerial and satellite photos from about 1947 onward. there are links available to some of these pictures in Nature. 

The suggestion as to how this might affect sea level is rather vague. Apparently, the assumption is that the ice shelves may suffer a reduction in size or mass, resulting in a faster movement of ice sheets into the sea. 


People trust science. So why don't they believe it?

From USA Today

This is an interesting headline, that could promote much discussion. It states as fact, premises that are not, in any way, established as fact. “People trust science.” Well, it is likely that some people trust science and it also might be true that people trust some science, but it is not possible for the general statement to be fact. You can just as easily replace the previous quote with the second sentence of the headline. 

The headline also lumps all scientific disciplines together with an applied assumption that people believe or trust each equally. Apply your own trust-ability index to each of the following, medical science, political science, climate science, social science. How about different types of science, experimental, predictive statistical, modeling, scientific studies or simply conclusions drawn from physical observation. 

Even scientists do not trust science. This is a good thing, or science would stagnate with the thinking that all knowledge has already been gained. “The science is settled” is a statement often heard recently. This is a terribly unscientific statement that implies that no further knowledge can be gained. This is a real example of anti-science. 

One thing that bothers me, is that so much science that is published today is the result of 'studies.' This is a process of collecting existing data and studying it to reach a conclusion. There is no way of knowing if all relevant data has been included, if the data is actually sound or accurate, that no bias was inherent in the collecting or that all possible conclusions were considered. Although often represented as fact, the conclusions are usually no more than suggestions for further study or better yet for experimentation with the goal of falsifying or confirming. There, I have identified a scientific method in which I have little trust and whose conclusions I do not often find believable.


How to be a Trusted Messenger on Climate Change 

From GreenBiz

How to be a preacher. How to make unsupported statements into believable facts even in the face of contrary evidence. Use premises that cannot be proven wrong, nevermind that they cannot be proven right either. Sound much like a tutorial on becoming a television evangelist? Totally about pushing a belief system with no relationship to scientific reality. The author is primarily a marketer, with, as far as I can tell, no background in science. His business is to sell you on the need for expensive solutions to climate change. Of course, that requires widespread concern for apparent dangers, which he must promote.



A Teenager Died After Drinking Too Much Caffeine 

This one is from Buzzfeednews

This is an opinion of the coroner, "On Monday, the Richland County Coroner ruled that he died from a "caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia."

I must stress that this is an opinion of one medical practitioner, and is not established as fact. According to this coroner, the teen died as the result of a probable arrhythmia. All we have is a possible cause of death with only a causual link to caffeine. There is no way that caffeine can be directly blamed as the cause of death even if that is implied by the coroner and the news source. This should not even have been reported without a bunch of qualifying words such as possibly or maybe. We have a highly unlikely relationship reported as fact.

This is not to suggest that caffeine is safe for children to consume in any quantity. There is a good reason why parents restrict coffee from their children.



NASA discover 'mysterious' man-made bubble surrounding our planet

From the Daily Star, May 19, 2017.


Apparently, this startling assumption of a man-made bubble comes from the speculation of one person.

“Director of the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, Daniel Baker speculates that if there were no human VLF transmissions, the radiation boundary would likely stretch closer to Earth.”


The imagery of a bubble is misleading in itself since it is really just a radiation boundary and is likely somewhat porous. Apparently, the boundary has shifted to a position further from Earth than in the past. That would suggest it is not man-made but rather may have expanded as a result of a specific human activity. Of course, there could be many other reasons for the shifting. A correlation with VLF broadcasts may be simple coincidence. Even the data may be a little suspect, as some is from satellites in the sixties (?) and recent data is from NASA Van Allen probes. The question mark is because I believe satellite technology was a little primitive in the sixties. The first man-made satellite, ever, was “Sputnik” which sputtered into space in late 1957. (I actually remember watching it crossing the night skies)


The Star is a British tabloid but many other more prestigious media sources used similar misleading headlines. Surely the writers could come up with more realistic wordings.



Rapid greening of Antarctic Peninsula driven by climate change

From ABC Online May 19, 2017. 


Climate change is making Antarctica greener

From CBC News 


Apparently, these headlines and stories are inspired by this source, Current Biology, which uses the headline “Widespread Biological Response to Rapid Warming on the Antarctic Peninsula


Notice how warming gets converted to climate change by the popular press. That changes a local observation into a global phenomenon. Intentional, I think so. It manages to make a remote observation directly relevant to you.


The original article itself fails to explore causes of increased growth other than warmth and available water. This in spite of the widely accepted idea that increased CO2 in the atmosphere has induced greening over the entire world. There are other possible contributors as well, such as fertilization or a decrease in cloudiness. They are probably correct in assuming that some portion of the increased growth is a result of warming, but putting the entire blame on this one change would seem premature without further study and experimentation.


One thing that all the reporting fails to do is explain how this response by moss banks is a bad thing. I think it may show that plant growth and viability are enhanced by a warmer environment as well as CO2 enrichment. How can this be anything but good for mankind and other animal life as well?

I think I know what you should know. Let me tell you.

Hated Headlines (What You Need to Know)

If there is one thing that makes me shudder, it is coming across a newspaper or internet headline that starts with some variation of this. 10 things you should know about cars (climate change, sex, beer drinking or whatever.) Probably written by some journalism student, crusading activist, or self-styled expert, they are usually misleading, often with little regard for actual facts, and most often, parroting information from other sources without regard for reliability.


Usually in the format of a bulleted list with short headings in bold type followed by a brief description of the author’s opinion of the truth. There is rarely any consideration of alternate views or explanations and there is always a “know it all attitude” reminiscent of teenage children. Although likely not intentional, they sometimes nearly qualify as fake news.


The following is an example (neither the best or the worst), that I am going to critique, point by point.


Climate change, 11 things you need to know


Point 1 400 parts per million.

The concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere, as of 2016, is the highest in 3 million years.  This statement is likely true. What you are not told is that atmospheric levels of the last 3 million years were the lowest in 220 million years when it probably rose higher than 2000 ppm. Before that, it likely rose as high as 7000 ppm.


Point 2  2016 was the warmest year on record.

NASA and NOAA data show that global averages were 1.78 degrees F (0.99 degrees C) warmer than the mid-20th century average, making 2016 the third year in a row with record-setting surface temperatures.   Not all scientists or records agree with this. Some records from the 1930 decade show higher temperatures. Of course, that is before mid-century. Since the Earth has been generally warming throughout this interglacial, occasional record temperatures are to be expected and not in any way unusual. There is also the argument that the temperature anomalies are statistically insignificant. What does this record mean, if anything?


Point 3 11% of emissions.

Eleven percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans can be blamed on deforestation – comparable to the emissions from all of the cars and trucks on the planet.  I have no way of judging this statement. How is this calculated? What observations support this statement. Without support, it seems to be no more than a guess or opinion. Finally, what is the relevance?


Point 4  The Amazon is a carbon-storing powerhouse.

In the Amazon, 1% of tree species sequester 50% of the region’s carbon.  Exactly the same observations as to #3.


Point 5  11% of the world’s population.

Some 800 million people are currently vulnerable to climate change impacts such as droughts, floods, heat waves, extreme weather events and sea-level rise.  We are all vulnerable to extreme weather events which would include all the above except sea level rise. Somehow they forgot to mention extreme cold. Sea levels have risen about 7 inches per century for the last several centuries with no real indication that it will speed up. A property might be threatened, but certainly, people could walk fast enough to outrun that degree of rise. Finally, there is no concrete evidence linking a warming climate to extreme weather or weather-related injury. Fatalities from weather events have been rapidly decreasing.


Point 6    Coastal ‘blue carbon’ ecosystems are critical.

Just 0.7% of the world’s forests are coastal mangroves, yet they store up to 5 times as much carbon per hectare as tropical forests.  This one I can agree with. Mangroves can also provide a line of defense against storm surges and are important sea life nurseries. I would like some support for their stats.


Point 7  Nearly 1 million hectares — lost.

An area of coastal ecosystems larger than New York City is destroyed every year, removing an important buffer from extreme weather for coastal communities and releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.   Maybe, but I would like to see some support and it should be put in context. As it is, the statement is almost meaningless.  New York City is just a dot on a map to many.


Point 8  Save nature. It’s cheaper.

Saving ecosystems is often more cost-effective than human-made interventions. In the Maldives,  for coastal protection cost about US$ 2.2 billion. Even after 10 years of maintenance costs, it is still four times cheaper to preserve the natural reef. Although I tend to agree with this statement, one example does not make a rule. Human-made interventions may be necessary to save nature. It is probably not wise to write off an initiative simply because it is man-made.


Point 9  Nature is an untapped solution.

Tropical forests are incredibly effective at storing carbon – providing up to 30% of the solution towards climate change. Despite this, nature-based solutions only receive 2% of all funding devoted to climate solutions.  This is an incredibly naive statement. Nature is not a solution, it is a concept. Nature is also part of the problem if a problem actually exists. What caused CO2 increases before human activities became a factor? Using nature means manipulating nature which is unnatural. The next questions are, how do you use tropical forests to sequester more carbon and how do you deal fairly with the local human populations?


Point 10   194 nations, on board.

In 2016, 194 countries signed the Paris Agreement, agreeing to limit global warming and adapt to climate change, in part through the use of nature-based solutions.  Neglects to point out that the agreement applies differently to different countries and that some large CO2 (the main focus of the agreement) emitters are not required to decrease emissions for several years. Whether countries will actually abide by their commitments and how the agreement can be enforced is questionable. Already the U.S.A. is threatening to back out.


Point 11   Price tag: US$ 140 billion per year.

This is what it would take to make the changes humanity needs to adapt to a warming world. It may sound like a lot, but it’s less than 0.1% of global GDP.   It is hard to understand where this arbitrary number came from. It appears to apply to modest adaptations to deal with increases in global temperature. Adaptation, however, is different from mitigation which is the main focus of the agreement discussed in  #10. Adaptation is only necessary if the forecasted changes actually occur and only when they are actually occurring. Mitigation is an attempt to slow or stop climate change, in this case by slowing or stopping the increase in atmospheric CO2. The cost of this type of action could be immeasurably huge, both in dollars and lives. Many argue that damage that could be caused by a changing climate are far less than the damage caused by governments attempting to stop it.

This, like every other “what you need to know” list, is a very oversimplified collection of arguable assertions without the benefit of support. Although I could agree with some of the assertions made, I could never present them as absolute truths. There are only a few points made that are facts and only one that is firm (the 194 nations). Everything else is opinion or unproven assumption. If this is what I need to know, why did I learn absolutely nothing of value? The entire premise is based on the assumption that a warming climate is dangerous and undesirable and that carbon dioxide is an evil culprit. Although there may be truth in this, none of it is proven. As usual, there is no mention of benefits from increased atmospheric CO2 or from increased warmth.

A moving narrative

I am posting a link here to a very moving essay by Steven Lyazi that I think should be widely disseminated. Please read and share as you see fit. I would post the entire essay but am reluctant to infringe on copyrights. The title of the essay is "What natural disasters should teach us"

Kampala, Uganda native Steven Lyazi began working as a high school student with the late Cyril Boynes, Jr., director of the Uganda chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), one of the world’s oldest civil and human rights organizations. After Mr. Boynes had a stroke in 2011, Steven became his personal assistant, until Mr. Boynes’ death in 2015. Upon graduating from high school, and with the death of his mentor, Steven began reading books and articles and studying on his own, with help from several Americans who have become his new mentors. He writes occasional articles on issues affecting Uganda and Africa. His goal is to attend university in South Africa and possibly pursue a graduate degree abroad, all with an emphasis on business, energy and the environment.