Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach
I do love tracing down how numbers kind of ricochet around the web. This investigation started when I ran across a book review in the South China Morning Post of a book called “Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change“, by Andrew T Guzman.
I’ll pass on linking to the book, TWDR, too wrong, don’t read. The book review quotes the obviously overheated author as saying:
Guzman anchors his doom-laden case in statistics. The 10 warmest years since 1880 have all happened since 1998, he says, and cites an estimate that the annual global death toll already sparked by climate change is 300,000.
When I see an unsupported figure like an annual death toll of 300,000 from “climate change”, my urban legend detector starts like ringing like mad. Where have they been hiding the bodies? So I figured I’d go stalking the wild numbers, following their spoor to track them back to their native habitat.
To start the hunt, I had to track down the citation in the book itself. I found that Guzman’s book says:
“… climate change caused the annual loss of more than 150,000 lives (Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, puts the figure at 300,000)
OK, off we go on a new track. What the heck would Kofi Annan, failed UN envoy to Syria, erstwhile Secretary General of the United Nations, and permanent subject of corruption allegations, know about deaths from climate?
And really, three hundred thousand dead from climate change EVERY YEAR?. Three million dead from climate change in a decade? Wouldn’t someone have noticed the bodies piling up? But I digress … it turns out that Kofi wasn’t really the source of the numbers after all.
It turns out that Kofi has his own pet foundation, called the Global Humanitarian Foundation. Everyone should have their own foundation, they’re very useful. The Foundation can say what you want them to say. Then you can authoritatively claim the same thing … and cite your pet foundation as the authority for your statement. Because then, it’s no longer just your personal opinion, now you’re simply and impartially reporting the facts.
Further research revealed that said foundation has put out a puffed up PDF report called “The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis”. In the Executive Summary, we once again sight the spoor of the mystery number 300,000, showing we are on the right track:
The findings of the report indicate that every year climate change leaves over 300,000 people dead, 325 million people seriously affected, and economic losses of US$125 billion.
Further down, they show the following alarming graphic:
Figure 2. Scary graphic from the “Silent Crisis” report, showing just how silent the crisis must be, since people sure noticed the tsunami, but nobody has noticed the deaths shown in red . The tsunami happened once, and they say the deaths in red been happening every year for 25 years … riiiight …
Finally, on page 9, we find the following explanation of where they get the three hundred thousand deaths number:
This estimate is derived by attributing a 40 percent proportion of the increase in the number of weather-related disasters from 1980 to current to climate change.
Now wait just one cotton-pickin’ minute right there. They are saying that the three hundred thousand is only forty percent of the increase in people killed annually by the weather since 1980?
That’s hogwash, pure smoke. Lets start with the simple fact that there hasn’t been any increase in the number of weather disasters. We’re in a fairly long lull in hurricanes, there’s no trend in cyclones or typhoons or storms or droughts or floods … even the IPCC these days says there is no evidence of any change in extreme weather events. It’s just not happening, so the whole edifice of logic they are using collapses. Other than deaths attributable to moroons building on floodplains and barrier islands and the like, there hasn’t been any significant change in the mortality rate from weather events. That alone is enough to completely falsify their claims.
Second, if 300,000 deaths is 40% of the increase in deaths, that means that they claim that the increase in deaths from bad weather since 1980, not deaths but the increase in deaths, is 750,000 people per year … that number is simply not credible. For example, one of the largest weather disasters in the last 50 years was the 1970 Bangladesh cyclone. It killed half a million and that was global news. Even the IPCC says “The average annual number of people killed by natural disasters between 1972 and 1996 was about 123,000.” No way there has been an increase of three-quarters of a million annual deaths from weather in the last quarter century, that the weather deaths jumped like that. Someone would have noticed.
So just what is Kofi Annan’s pet foundation using as their authority for the 40% claim and the other numbers? Further reading brings us to this one (emphasis mine):
The 40 percent proportion is based on an analysis of data provided by Munich Re on the past trend of weather-related disasters, as compared to geophysical (i.e. non climate change related) disasters over time.5 It compares well to a 2009 scientific estimate of the attribution of climate change to droughts.11 It is assumed that the 40 percent increase due to climate change based on frequency of disasters can be applied as an approximation for the number of people seriously affected and deaths.
Munich Re??? They got their numbers from Munich Re? They’re trusting a dang insurance company? That’s what we find way down at the bottom of the edifice of bogus claims? An insurance company that makes more money if people are very, very afraid.
Everyone knows that fear sells insurance. Munich Re is one of the larger reinsurance companies in the world. For years it has been very active in climate alarmism, a wise business decision from its perspective. It can look like it cares about CO2, garner all kinds of green street cred, while selling more insurance by frightening people about climate. Win-win.
Nor should this be a surprise to any student of climate. Munich Re been running this same scam for years. I guess you have to be either Kofi Annan or deliberately obtuse to claim authority regarding climate, but not to have read any of the many articles pointing out that fear sells insurance and that Munich Re has been heavily into spreading climate fear for decades, and has made a tidy profit while doing so.
• Munich Re pulled some hugely improbable climate death numbers out of their corporate fundamental orifice, numbers that are clearly designed to help them sell insurance. They have no relationship to reality.
• These bogus numbers were then swallowed hook, line and sinker, and regurgitated in a report issued by Kofi Annan’s pet foundation.
• The report was then quoted by Kofi Annan.
• Kofi Annan was then quoted by Guzman
• Guzman was then quoted by the South China Morning Post.
And there we have the impeccable pedigree and provenance of the claim of 300,000 dead from climate change every year … garbage top to bottom.
Not the anthropogenic global warming supporters’ finest moment … and despite that, the damn 300,000 number will probably rattle around the internet for the next decade, and the book seems to be getting good reviews.
Go figure. They say a lie goes once around the web while the truth is lacing up its work boots … and even when falsified, the lie doesn’t stop circulating. But hey, better to light a candle than to complain about the darkness, so consider this my candle.