It’s easy to believe that life on Earth is getting worse. The media Highlight one disaster after another He made terrifying predictions. With a torrent of doom and gloom about climate change and the environment, it’s understandable why so many people – especially young people – truly believe the world is about to end.
The truth is that while the problems remain, the world is actually getting better. We rarely hear that.
we Always talk about disasterswhether the latest heat wave or flood, Forest fires or storm. However, the data overwhelmingly shows that over the past century, people have become much safer from all of these weather events. In fact, in the 1920s, about half a million people were killed by weather disasters, while in the past decade the average death toll was about 18,000. This year, just like 2020 and 2021, it tracks less. why? Because when people get richer, they become more resilient.
Weather-related TV news will make us all think disasters are getting worse. They are not. Around the year 1900, about 4.5% of the world’s land area will burn each year. during the last century, This decreased to about 3.2%. In the past two decades, satellites have shown a further decline – in 2021, only 2.5% have burned out. This mostly happened because wealthy societies prevented fires. Models show that by the end of the century, despite climate change, human adaptation will mean less burning.
And despite what you may have heard about record-breaking costs from weather disasters (mainly because richer residents build more expensive homes along the coasts), damage costs are declining, not increasing, as a percentage of GDP.
But it’s not just climatic disasters that are becoming less harmful despite dire predictions. A decade ago, environmentalists loudly declared that Australia The wonderful Great Barrier Reef was about to die, killed by bleaching caused by climate change. The British Guardian even published its obituary.
This year, scientists revealed that two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef Shown above coral cover seen Since recordings began in 1985, the good news report has received only a fraction of the attention.
Not so long ago, environmentalists constantly used images of polar bears Highlighting the dangers of climate change. Polar bears were even featured in Al Gore’s horror movie An Inconvenient Truth. But the fact is that polar bear numbers have been increasing – from five to ten thousand polar bears in the 1960s, to about 26,000 today. We do not hear this news. Instead, activists have quietly stopped using polar bears in their activism.
There are so many bad news stories that we rarely stop to think about the most important indicators, that life is getting a lot better. The average human life expectancy has doubled over the past century, from 36 years in 1920 to more than 72 years today. A hundred years ago, three-quarters of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. Today, it is less than a tenth.
The deadliest environmental problem, air pollution, was four times more likely to kill you in 1920 than today, mostly by poor people cooking and heating with dung and wood.
Despite the setbacks associated with COVID, humanity is getting better and better. However, doom advocates will continue to tell you that the end is near. This is great for fundraising, but the costs to society are very high: we make bad and expensive political choices and our children are scared, frightened.
We also end up ignoring much larger problems. look at all Devoted attention to heat waves. In the United States and many other parts of the world, deaths from heat are actually decreasing, because access to air conditioning helps far more than the harm from higher temperatures.
However, almost everywhere, the cold quietly kills more. In the United States, about 20,000 people die from heat, but 170,000 die from cold—something we rarely focus on. Moreover, cold deaths are on the rise in the United States, and our continued focus on climate change is exacerbating this trend, because politicians have introduced green laws that make energy more expensive, meaning that few people can afford heating. The lack of perspective means that we don’t focus first on where we can help most.
On a larger scale, global warming Celebrities and politicians pay to fly around the world in private jets lecturing the rest of us, while we spend less on problems like hunger, infectious diseases and a lack of basic education. When did politicians and movie stars get together for an important cause like deworming children?
We need some balance in our news, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore global warming: it’s a real problem caused by humanity. We just need a perspective. To see what to expect from a warming planet, we can look at damage estimates from economic models used by the Biden and Obama administrations, which reveal the full global cost of climate change – not just to economies, but quite literally – it would be equal to less than 4 % of global GDP by the end of the century.
Humanity is getting more and more prosperous every day. In a separate report, the United Nations estimates that without global warming, the average person in 2100 would be 450% better off than they are today. They say global warming means people will be only 434% richer. This is not a disaster.
Fear of climate change causes life-changing anxiety. You may hear nothing but bad news, but that doesn’t mean you hear the whole story.
Björn Lomborg is the chair of the Copenhagen Consensus and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His latest book is “False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Is Costing Us Trillions, Hurting the Poor, and Failing to Fix the Planet.”