12.14.2022

Elevated Living Standards Contradict Climate Doomsayers

by Vijay Jayaraj

Climate protestors destroying artworks and gluing themselves to roads without offering a shred of evidence for their alarm exhibit a malicious stupidity that is blind to the actual state of the world.

Why do these activists not hold up placards with graphs, histograms, and Venn diagrams? Because actual data show that life today is much better than at any time in human history. Ignored is the fact that the change in climate has made Earth better and helped to advance humanity.

Much of the progress in the last three centuries hinged on one important event in the 17th century: the waning of the Little Ice Age, which finally ended in the 1800s. Contrary to popular media and the politically correct, climate change has aided in the unprecedented growth of human civilization.

The Little Ice Age disrupted global plant growth and fostered periods of famine, disease and mass depopulation. However, since the advent of modern warming there has been an overall greening of the planet, more bountiful crop harvests and an eight-fold increase in humanity’s numbers. Contributing to the bounty has been the fertilization effect of carbon dioxide, whose atmospheric concentration has increased in recent decades.

Global maize (corn) production was approximately 205 million tons in 1961. Today the world produces five times more maize, — 1.16 billion tons. There have been similar increases for all major food crops, including rice, wheat, soybeans, cereals, nuts and vegetables.

Captures of marine fish during 1961–2018 increased from 34 million tons to 84 million tons. During the period, aquaculture production increased from two million tons to 82 million tons.

Meanwhile, malnourishment in developing countries reduced drastically from 34 percent in 1970 to 13 percent in 2015, despite a rapidly growing population.

Improved nutrition and technological advancements have combined to make life not only better but also longer. In Oman, for example, the mortality rate for children under 5 dropped from 38 deaths per 100 births in 1950  to less than one. Similar progress has been registered across the world.

Transportation has become more affordable to the general population. Nominal prices for roundtrip airfare almost halved in the 2010s compared to 1980.

Electricity has become more available to households and businesses. In China alone, power generation increased by 18 times between 1950 and 2015, enabling 1.3 billion people to have greater access to electricity and experience remarkable economic growth.

People are better protected against nature’s fury than ever before. The annual death rate from natural disasters has plummeted globally since the 1920s and 1930s. This is because greater prosperity supported by cheap, abundant energy resources has provided sturdier infrastructure to withstand weather extremes and modern reporting systems to warn of dangers. Media reports of a world ransacked to an unprecedented extent by storms and floods are as false as the predictions of an overheated globe.

Species that were hunted to near extinction have been making a comeback, including the Arctic’s polar bears and India’s Bengal tigers. The number of humpback whales in the western South Atlantic doubled between 2006 and 2022. In Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, gray wolves increased from 1,100 in 1975 to 3,600 in 2018.

In all of the U.S., there were merely 487 bald eagle pairs in 1963. By 2006, there were approximately 10,000. Today, wind turbines remain the only major threat to bald eagles, with the government dismayingly allocating “bald eagle-killing quotas” for each machine.

So, notions of a climate emergency and a planet in terminal decline are fallacious. The numbers do not lie no matter how much art is despoiled or how many commuters are delayed by the misguided.

This commentary was first published at Real Clear Energy, December 14, 2022, and can be accessed here.

Vijay Jayaraj is a Research Associate at the CO2 Coalition, Arlington, Virginia. He holds a master’s degree in environmental sciences from the University of East Anglia, UK and resides in India.

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