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There is a lot of good news about the environment

It is easy to believe that life on Earth is constantly deteriorating. The media highlights one disaster after another and makes terrifying predictions. With a torrent of doom and gloom over climate change and the environment, it’s understandable that many people, especially young people, sincerely believe the world is about to end.

The fact is that while problems remain, the world is actually improving. We rarely hear it.

We keep hearing about disasters, whether it’s the latest heat wave, a flood, a fire or a storm. Yet the data overwhelmingly shows that over the past century people have become much, much more immune to all of these weather events. Indeed, in the 1920s, about half a million people were killed by weather disasters, while over the past decade the death toll was around 18,000. This year, just like 2020 and 2021 , lies below that. Why? Because when people get richer, they get more resilient.

Weather-related TV news would make us all think disasters are getting worse. They are not. Around 1900, about 4.5% of the world’s land area would burn each year. Over the past century, this percentage has fallen to around 3.2%. Over the past two decades, satellites have shrunk even further – in 2021, only 2.5% burned. This happened mainly because wealthier societies prevent fires. Models show that by the end of the century, despite climate change, human adaptation will mean even less burning.

The percentage of land burned has decreased over the past two decades.
AFP via Getty Images

And despite what you may have heard about the record costs of weather disasters (mainly because wealthier populations are building more expensive homes along the coasts), damage costs are falling, not rising, in percentage of GDP.

But it’s not just weather disasters that are becoming less damaging despite dire forecasts. Ten years ago, conservationists loudly declared that Australia’s magnificent Great Barrier Reef was almost dead, killed by bleaching caused by climate change. The UK Guardian even published an obituary.

This year, scientists revealed that two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef has the highest coral cover seen since records began in 1985. The good news has garnered only a fraction of the attention.

Not so long ago, conservationists constantly used images of polar bears to highlight the dangers of climate change. Polar bears even featured in Al Gore’s terrifying film “An Inconvenient Truth.” But the reality is that the number of polar bears has increased – from somewhere between five and ten thousand polar bears in the 1960s, to around 26,000 today. We don’t hear this news. Instead, activists simply stopped using polar bears in their activism.

There is a lot of good news about the environment
The number of polar bears has increased from less than 10,000 to around 26,000.
Getty Images

There is so much bad news that we rarely stop to consider that on the most important indicators, life is getting a lot better. Human life expectancy has doubled over the past century, from 36 years in 1920 to over 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 it is today, mostly because of poor people cooking and heating themselves with manure and wood.

Despite the setbacks related to COVID, humanity has become better and better. Yet the Merchants of Doom will continue to tell you that the end is near. It’s great for their fundraising, but the costs to society are exorbitant: we make poor and costly political choices and our children are scared.

We also end up ignoring much bigger issues. Consider all the attention given to heat waves. In the United States and many other parts of the world, heat-related deaths are actually on the decline, as access to air conditioning helps far more than rising temperatures harm.

There is a lot of good news about the environment
The UN estimates that without global warming, the average person in 2100 would be 450% better off than today.
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

However, almost everywhere, the cold quietly kills many more. In the United States, about 20,000 people die from the heat, but 170,000 die from the cold, which is something we rarely focus on. Additionally, freezing deaths are on the rise in the United States, and our relentless focus on climate change is exacerbating this trend, as politicians have introduced green laws that make energy more expensive, meaning fewer people can allow yourself to warm up. Lack of perspective means we don’t focus first on what we can help the most.

On a larger scale, global warming is prompting celebrities and politicians to fly around the world in private jets to lecture us, while we spend less on issues like hunger, infectious diseases and lack of schooling. base. When did politicians and movie stars meet for an important cause like child deworming?

We need some balance in our news, but that doesn’t mean ignoring global warming: it’s a real problem, caused by humanity. We just need a step back. 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 that the overall global cost of climate change – not just to economies, but in any sense – will equate to less than 4% reduction in global GDP by the end of the century.

Humanity is becoming 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 today. According to them, global warming means that people will only be 434% richer. It’s not a disaster.

Fear of climate change causes life-altering anxiety. You may only hear bad news, but that doesn’t mean you hear the whole story.

Bjorn Lomborg is Chair of the Copenhagen Consensus and Visiting Scholar 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”.

New York Post

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