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BJORN LOMBORG: Hype about climate change hides that life on Earth is improving – BusinessLIVE

Not long ago environmentalists constantly used pictures of polar bears to highlight the dangers of climate change. Polar bears even featured in Al Gore’s terrifying movie An Inconvenient Truth. But polar bear numbers have been increasing — from 5,000-10,000 in the 1960s, to about 26,000 now. We don’t hear this news. Instead, campaigners just quietly stopped using polar bears in their activism.

There are so many bad-news stories that we seldom stop to consider that on the most important indicators life for humans is improving. Our average life expectancy has doubled over the past century, from 36 years in 1920 to more than 72 years now. A hundred years ago three-quarters of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. Now it’s less than a tenth. The deadliest environmental problem, air pollution, was four times more likely to kill you in 1920 than now, mostly through people in poverty cooking and heating with dung and wood.

Despite Covid-19-related setbacks, humanity has become increasingly better off. Yet doom-mongers will keep telling you the end is nigh. This is great for their fundraising, but the costs to society are sky-high: we make poor, expensive policy choices and our children are scared witless.

We also end up ignoring far bigger problems. Consider all the attention devoted to heatwaves. In the US and many other parts of the world, heat deaths are declining, because access to air conditioning helps us far more than rising temperatures hurt. However, almost everywhere the cold quietly kills many more. In the US, about 20,000 people die from heat each year, but 170,000 die from cold — something we rarely focus on.

Deworming children

Moreover, cold deaths are rising in the US and our incessant focus on climate change is worsening this trend because politicians have introduced green laws that make energy more expensive, meaning fewer people can afford to keep warm. Lacking perspective means we don’t focus first on where we can help most.

On a broader scale, global warming prompts celebrities and politicians to fly around the world in private jets lecturing the rest of us, while we spend less on problems such as hunger, infectious diseases and a lack of basic schooling. When did politicians and movie stars ever meet for an important cause like deworming children?

We need some balance in our news, but that doesn’t mean ignoring global warming: it is a real problem, caused by humanity. We just need perspective. To know what to expect from a warming planet we can look at the damage estimates from the economic models used by the Biden and Obama administrations, revealing the entire, global cost of climate change — not just to economies, but in every sense — will be equivalent to less than a 4% hit to global GDP by the end of the century.

Humanity is getting more prosperous daily. The UN estimates that without global warming the average person in 2100 would be 450% better off than now. Global warming means people will only be 434% richer. That is not a disaster.

Climate change fear is causing life-changing anxiety. You might be hearing nothing but bad news, but that doesn’t mean you’re hearing the full story.

• Lomborg is president of the Copenhagen Consensus and visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. His latest book is ‘False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet’.

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