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The dangerous thing about doomsday prophecies

CLIMATE ANXIETY / In reality, the world is moving forward, although fanatical activists and desperate media would like to tell us the opposite.

This article is machine translated by Google from Norwegian

Many people wake up every day thinking that things are just getting worse. It's no wonder, given the news they are bombarded with from newspapers and television. But the gloomy mood is a problem, as it feeds into the horror stories that climate change will end in armageddon.

In reality, the world is getting better, generally speaking. The average life expectancy has more than doubled since years 1900 and is now more than 70 years. Since the increase has been particularly noticeable among the poor, as are the health disparities decreased. We are more knowledgeable, there is less child labor, and we live in one of history's most peaceful periods.

In addition, people have better finances. Over the past 30 years, global average income has almost doubled, which has reduced poverty. In 1990 about 4 of 10 was poor, today it is hardly 1 of 10.

Over the last 30 years, the global average income has almost doubled, which has led to a reduction in poverty.

It has changed the way we live. For example, the percentage of people who had to do their thing in the open air was halved to 15 percent between 1990 and 2015. In the same period, 2,6 billions of people gained access to better water sources; a global share of 91 percent.

These changes have also improved the environment. The greatest environmental risk – pollution-related deaths – has dropped significantly; in low-income countries it is about halved since 1990.

Rich countries are better at conserving forests (and planting new forests), thanks to higher agricultural returns and changing attitudes towards the environment.

Dangerous activism

Although many hear about all this, they are still convinced that climate change will destroy the earth. The fear is understandable, but it tells more about the influence of one-sided activists and desperate media than about reality.

We are told that global warming will lead to extreme weather and climate chaos that will literally threaten our existence. This view is not only baseless, but also contrary to the findings of the UN Climate Panel IPCC.

For example, hurricanes are linked to global warming. But the truth is that only three major hurricanes (Category 3 or higher) have hit the United States in the last thirteen years – the lowest number since 1900.

In its most recent assessment, the IPCC, which uses the word "cyclone" for hurricane, states that "there have been no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency" over the last century. NASA's Hurricane Modeling Department has concluded that the number of hurricanes historically "does not provide 'convincing evidence' of a significant increase in the long-term greenhouse effect".

Scientists believe that global warming will result in stronger and less frequent hurricane activity. At the same time, prosperity will increase dramatically in the coming decades, making us more resilient to such events. When this is taken into account, the overall impact of the hurricanes will actually be lower by 2100 than it is today.

Climate change is a real problem. according to IPCC for example, the overall impact of global warming in the 2070s would amount to a loss of around 0,2–2 percent in average income. It is not the end of the world, but the same as an economic recession – in a world that will be better equipped than it is today.


Excessive fears will go wrong when dealing with global warming. Concerned activists want us to stop using fossil fuels as soon as possible. But it will slow growth which has lifted billions of people out of poverty and transformed the planet. This has a real cost.

Mankind will do much better in a scenario with high fossil fuel consumption than if we succeed in reducing CO2 values ​​- also in Africa.

Rich and highly educated people ignore this cost. Under World Economic Forum in Davos in 2017, US Vice President Al Gore criticized the plans to build a coal-fired power plant in Bangladesh. But Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheik Hasina was quick to point out; "If you can't develop people's financial opportunities, how are you going to save them? We need to increase food security, and we need to provide them with job opportunities. ”

Analysis from the think tank Copenhagen Consensus Center shows that developing coal power to drive economic growth in Bangladesh is an effective policy, even when taking global climate damage into account. Costs will be $ 9,7 billion, including long-term global climate costs of $ 570 million, however fordelene will be greater than $ 250 billion – the equivalent of more than a full year of GDP (gross domestic product) in Bangladesh.

The UN is conducting studies that show five different global scenarios for the future. It turns out that humanity will do much better in a scenario with high fossil fuel consumption than if we succeed in reducing CO2values ​​- also in Africa.

We must solve the climate problems, but we must also make sure that the cure is not worse than the suffering.

We must solve the climate problems, but we must also make sure that the cure is not worse than the suffering. A good solution would be to invest more in research and development of affordable carbon-free energy sources that can outperform fossil fuels over time. This will ensure a smooth transition that neither slows down the economies nor harms the most disadvantaged in society.

Doomsday propaganda and gloom distort our worldview and can lead to bad politics. The future looks bright, and we need smart decisions to keep it that way.

Translated by Iril Kolle

Also read: The world's hardest turning point, about climate policy

Lomborg is a visiting professor at the Copenhagen Business School and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center

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