By David Simon
NASA data show that the earth’s temperature has risen by only 1.01° C since 1880. Yet this very slight warming trend may have reversed or slowed to an even more microscopic pace: 2018 was cooler than 2017, and 2017 was cooler than 2016.
It may be politically toxic to admit, but we should hope that the earth continues to warm.
In 2015, the prestigious medical journal The Lancet reported that worldwide, cold kills over 17 times more people than heat. A group of 22 scientists examined over 74 million deaths in the United States, China, Brazil, and ten other countries in 1985-2012. They found that cold caused 7.29 percent of these deaths, while heat caused only 0.42 percent. And of these temperature-related deaths, “moderately hot and cold temperatures” caused 88.85 percent of the deaths, while “extreme” temperatures caused only 11.15 percent.
A warmer earth thus saves numerous lives worldwide. Saving lives outweighs any harm that global warming might cause.
Saving lives, moreover, has economic as well as humanitarian benefits. Saving lives increases population growth. Population growth is a critical driver in raising incomes, pulling people out of poverty, and increasing prosperity worldwide.
In the short run, population growth crowds our cities and stretches family and government budgets. But over time, population growth produces more innovation and greater economic growth. Paul Romer, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, put it this way: “The virtuous circle between population and ideas accounts for the acceleration of growth.”
People, as economist Julian Simon explained, are the “ultimate resource.” His work and the Cato Institute’s new Simon Abundance Index developed by economist Gale Pooley and globalization expert Marian Tupy show that as the world’s population has increased, “energy, food, materials and metals … have become substantially more abundant… “[E]very additional human being born on our planet appears to have made resources proportionately more plentiful for the rest of us.”
Climate alarmists tell a different story about the impact of global warming on human life. Perhaps their most dramatic claim is that a warmer earth means more deadly natural disasters. But the data show the opposite. In 2019, EMDAT, The International Disaster Database, reported that since the 1920s, the number of people killed annually by natural disasters has declined by over 80 percent. This very beneficial trend as the earth has warmed is particularly amazing because the world’s population simultaneously quadrupled from less than two billion to over seven and half billion.
The alarmists also disregard a key point: even the most severe restrictions on carbon emissions will have almost zero impact on the earth’s temperature. Climatologist Patrick J. Michaels, for example, calculated that even if the United States eliminated all carbon emissions – which would require Americans to give up fossil fuels and, indeed, to stop breathing (to cease exhaling carbon dioxide) – it would only reduce global warming by a negligible 0.052° C by 2050.
Instead of wasting untold trillions on draconian command and control Green New Deal programs that will destroy our economy without materially lowering the earth’s temperature, we should embrace and celebrate global warming. A warmer earth saves lives and makes the world more prosperous.