Is Climate Change the Number One Threat to Humanity?

Guest post by Indur M. Goklany

I have a new paper in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, which asks the question, Is Climate Change the Number One Threat to Humanity? This is threshold question to which many who believe global warming constitutes an existential threat to humanity would answer in the affirmative, although as the paper points out, there is no analysis that supports that conclusion. This paper provides an analysis that attempts to answer this question. It is built on previous efforts that have tried to answer this question.

The paper has been peer reviewed even though it’s labeled as an opinion piece. Unfortunately, the published version requires a subscription. An earlier draft can be found here.

It was written at the invitation of Professor Mike Hulme, the journal’s Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Myanna Lahsen, another editor, and, I presume, the Editorial Board. It was to be paired with a paper by Tim Flannery, which would take an opposing viewpoint. [I don’t know when, or if, Dr. Flannery’s paper will be published.]

Considering the tribal nature of much of the debate surrounding global warming and the general unwillingness of, for lack of a better word, “warmists” to engage in a dispassionate exchange of views, it was very courageous of the editors not only to invite me but, what’s more, to actually publish my contrarian piece after they had read it!

There were at least three reviewers, and the process itself was very fair and professional. The exchanges with reviewers did, indeed, help sharpen the basis for my conclusions. Also, Mike and Myanna, recognizing that I was offering a perspective contrary to most of their readers’, allowed me more space than probably would have been afforded to others. To me, this indicates a genuine desire for a discussion of a contrarian viewpoint as opposed to a cosmetic, pro forma effort, which is what the IPCC process sometimes seems to resemble.

I thank Mike, Myanna, the Editors, and the reviewers for their professionalism, open mindedness, and, in fact, the entire experience. Although I’m no longer unbiased, they have, IMHO, done themselves — and their journal — proud.


Abstract. This paper challenges claims that global warming outranks other threats facing humanity through the foreseeable future (assumed to be 2085–2100). World Health Organization and British government-sponsored global impact studies indicate that, relative to other factors, global warming’s impact on key determinants of human and environmental well-being should be small through 2085 even under the warmest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) scenario. Specifically, over 20 other health risks currently contribute more to death and disease worldwide than global warming. Through 2085, only 13% of mortality from hunger, malaria and extreme weather events (including coastal flooding from sea level rise) should be from warming. Moreover, warming should reduce future global population at risk of water stress, and pressures on ecosystems and biodiversity (by increasing net biome productivity and decreasing habitat conversion). That warming is not fundamental to human well-being is reinforced by lower-bound estimates of net GDP per capita. This measure adjusts GDP downward to account for damages from warming due to market, health and environmental impacts, and risk of catastrophe. For both developing and industrialized countries, net GDP per capita—albeit an imperfect surrogate for human well-being—should be (a) double the current U.S. level by 2100 under the warmest scenario, and (b) lowest under the poorest IPCC scenario but highest under the warmest scenario through 2200. The warmest world, being wealthier, should also have greater capacity to address any problem, including warming. Therefore, other problems and, specifically, lowered economic development, are greater threats to humanity than global warming.

Approach Used. The paper:

(a) Compares the global impacts of global warming through the foreseeable future against the impacts of other factors on key determinants of human and environmental well-being in order to gauge whether the negative impact of warming on these determinants exceeds that due to the other factors.

(b) Checks whether human well-being, as measured by net GDP per capita for developing and developed countries through the foreseeable future (and beyond) is projected to be lower under the warmest scenario (per the IPCC’s Special Report on Emission Scenarios, SRES) than under the cooler scenarios.

Foreseeable future is optimistically considered to be 2085-2100 — “optimistic” because future impacts depend upon emission scenarios which are driven by socioeconomic assumptions and projections which arguably “cannot be projected semi-realistically for more than 5–10 years at a time.”[1]

The key determinants of human and environmental well-being that I examine are:

(a) Human health, based on impacts on mortality via hunger, malaria (a proxy for tropical vector-borne diseases), and extreme weather events,

(b) The global population at risk of water stress, and

(c) Ecological impacts, based on net biome productivity (a measure of carbon sink capacity), habitat lost to cropland, and loss of coastal wetland.

The future global impacts of global warming on key determinants are derived from the Fast Track Assessments (FTAs) sponsored by the British Government.[2],[3],[4] Most of the FTA authors also co-authored various chapters of IPCC’s Second, Third and Fourth Assessment Reports. They include, for example, Martin Parry (Chairman, IPCC Working Group II during the preparation of AR4), Nigel Arnell (lead author, LA, water resources chapter, AR4), Robert Nicholls (coordinating LA, coastal systems, AR4), and Sari Kovats (LA, human health, AR4). Not surprisingly, the FTA reports get substantial play in the IPCC reports. I note all this only to emphasize that, from the perspective of those enamored with the consensus, the provenance of my estimates ought to be impeccable.

Net GDP per capita for each IPCC SRES scenario is estimated by subtracting from the GDP per capita in the absence of any global warming the equivalent losses in GDP per capita from warming due to market, health and environmental impacts, and risk of catastrophe. The specifics of these calculations are detailed here. I have attempted to be conservative at each step:

(a) Through 2100, the GDP per capita in the absence of warming is taken directly from the assumptions used to construct each IPCC scenario. Undaunted by the fact that the IPCC scenarios only extended to 2100, the Stern Review provided estimates through 2200.24 [An obvious example of economists treading where even fools would not dare.] My estimates for the unadjusted GDP per capita, however, assume lower economic growth than the Stern Review.

(b) Damages from warming are based on the Stern Review’s 95th percentile (upper bound) estimate. But the Stern Review’s central estimate “lies beyond the 95th percentile—that is, it is an outlier.”[5] That is, the damages of warming that I have used are based on an upper bound estimate from an outlier. Moreover, the Stern Review’s central estimate, like other studies, overestimates the costs/damages from global warming partly because it does not fully account for increases in future adaptive capacity (see below).

Thus, the net GDP per capita estimates used in the paper should be lower bound estimates.

This paper does not address hypothesized low-probability but potentially high consequence outcomes such as a shutdown of the thermohaline circulation or the melting of the Greenland and Antarctica Ice Sheets, which have been deemed unlikely to occur in the foreseeable future by both the IPCC and the US Global Change Research Program, among others.[6],[7],[8]

Systematic Biases In Global Warming Impact Studies. The paper notes that global warming impact studies systematically overestimate negative impacts while simultaneously underestimating positive consequences. The net negative impacts, therefore, are likely to be substantially overestimated. This is because these studies fail to consider adequately society’s capacity to adapt autonomously to either mitigate or take advantage of climate change impacts.[9],[10]

This violates the IPCC’s methodological guidelines for impact assessments, which require consideration of autonomous or automatic adaptations. These adaptations depend on, among other things, adaptive capacity, which should advance with time due to the assumption of economic growth embedded in each IPCC emission scenario (see Figure 1).9,10,[11],[12] However, these advances are rarely accounted for fully in impacts assessments. For example, the FTA’s water resource study totally ignores adaptive capacity while its malaria study assumes no change in adaptive capacity between the baseline year (1990) and projection year (2085) (see here).9 Consequently, the assessments are internally inconsistent because future adaptive capacity does not reflect the future economic development used to derive the emission scenarios that underpin global warming estimates.


Figure 1: : Net GDP per capita, 1990-2200, after accounting for the upper bound estimates of losses due to global warming for four major IPCC emission and climate scenarios. For 2100 and 2200, the scenarios are arranged from the warmest (A1FI) on the left to the coolest (B1) on the right. The average global temperature increase from 1990 to 2085 for the scenarios are as follows: 4°C for AIFI, 3.3°C for A2, 2.4°C for B2, and 2.1°C for B1. For context, in 2006, GDP per capita for industrialized countries was $19,300; the United States, $30,100; and developing countries, $1,500. Source: Ref. 42.

Another source of systematic overestimation of net negative impacts is introduced because impact assessments generally ignore increases in adaptive capacity because of secular technological change. Secular technological change results from the fact that over time:

(a) Existing technologies becomes cheaper (or more cost-effective), and

(b) New technologies, that are even more cost-effective, become available.9,10,12

Long-term projections that neglect economic development and secular technological change often overstate impacts by an order of magnitude or more.12,[13]For example,the FTA’s malaria study assumed static adaptive capacity between baseline and projection years (1990–2085).[14] Applying the same assumption to project U.S. deaths in 1970 from various water-related diseases—dysentery, typhoid, paratyphoid, other gastrointestinal disease, malaria—using data from 1900 implies freezing death rates at 1900 levels. But, in fact, from 1900–1970 they declined by 99.6%–100.0%.12 Similarly, because of the increase in adaptive capacity globally, global death rates from extreme weather events have declined by 98% since the 1920s.[15]

Despite the systematic overestimation of net negative impacts, my paper uses the FTA results without adjusting them downward.


Results of the analyses are summarized in the last two subsections of the paper. Following is a lightly edited version of these. Note that footnotes have been dropped, figures have been renumbered, and I have “bolded” certain words and phrases.

Synthesis of impacts on key determinants of human and environmental well-being

Regarding human health, the World Health Organization’s latest (2009) study on Global Health Risks provides estimates that indicate that global warming is presently outranked by at least 22 other health risk factors (Figure 2).[16] By 2085, despite using impacts estimates that tend to overestimate net negative impacts, warming is projected to contribute less than one-seventh of the total mortality from hunger, malaria and extreme weather events even under the warmest IPCC scenario (Figure 3). Thus, global warming is unlikely to be the most important health risk facing mankind through the foreseeable future notwithstanding claims to the contrary.[17],[18]

With respect to water stress, despite massive population growth, the share of global population with access to safe water and improved sanitation currently continues to increase, and deaths from drought have declined by 99.9% since the 1920s. In the future, water-stressed populations may increase, but largely due to non-climate change factors. However, warming, by itself, may reduce net water-stressed population (Figure 4). Aggressive mitigation to limit the global temperature increase to 2 °C, may, moreover, increase net water-stressed population, relative to either the “unmitigated climate change” case.[19]


Figure 2: Ranking global public health priorities based on mortality (right hand panel) and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost prematurely (left hand panel) in 2004 for 24 health risk factors. The total length of each bar indicates the magnitude of deaths or lost DALYs globally to the specific health risk factor. For developing countries, the ranking of global warming is unchanged, whereas for industrialized countries, it would rank second last on the basis of deaths, and 4th last on the basis of lost DALYs.


Figure 3. Deaths in 2085 due to Hunger, Malaria and Extreme Events, With and Without Global Warming. Only upper bound estimates are shown for mortality due to global warming. Average global temperature increase from 1990-2085 for each scenario is shown below the relevant bar.


Figure 4. Population at Risk (PAR) from Water Stress in 2085, With and Without Global Warming. The vertical bars indicate the PARs based on the mid-point estimates of several model runs, while the vertical lines indicate the range of estimates.

With respect to ecological impacts through 2100, global warming might (a) increase net biome productivity, which translates into greater vegetation and net carbon sink capacity; and (b) decrease the amount of habitat converted to human use, which would reduce pressures on biodiversity and ecosystems (Table 1). However, coastal wetlands are projected to be further reduced, but more because of non-climate change factors than climate change (Table 1).

Table 1: Ecological indicators under different scenarios, 2085-2100.

These results also indicate that if climate were to be rolled back and frozen at its 1990 level—something that is infeasible with current technology without also risking rolling back economic development and increasing poverty to levels corresponding to pre-World War II levels—then in 2085, mortality from malaria, hunger and extreme weather events would be reduced by no more than 13%, the net water-stressed population might increase globally, and threats to biodiversity and ecosystems might, likewise, increase.

Thus, in aggregate, while global warming may be important, other factors would have a much greater net adverse impact on human and environmental well-being through the foreseeable future.

Future net GDP per capita and human well-being in a warming world

The above conclusion is reinforced by estimates of future net GDP per capita. Figure 1 [derived using the results of the Stern Review] indicates that net GDP per capita in both developing and industrialized countries should be highest under the richest-but-warmest (A1FI) scenario and lowest under the poorest-but-most-populous (A2) scenario at least through 2200.

It has been shown elsewhere, that improvements in a variety of direct or indirect indicators of human well-being are correlated with GDP per capita.10,12,13 These indicators include life expectancy, infant mortality, food supplies per capita, absence of malnutrition, educational attainment, access to safe water and sanitation, health expenditures, and research and development expenditures. For most of these indicators, the relationship is logarithmic in GDP per capita. Notably, the UN Development Program’s (UNDP’s) most commonly used Human Development Index (HDI)[20]— which was developed as an indicator of human well-being that would supplement, if not supplant, GDP per capita[21]—is also correlated with (a) GDP per capita with a correlation coefficient of 0.74, and (b) logarithm of GDP per capita with a coefficient of 0.94 (based on cross country data for 2009).[22] This is to be expected because not only is the logarithm of per capita GDP (or income) a component of HDI, the other two components are life expectancy and an educational factor, both of which are themselves correlated with the logarithm of GDP per capita.10,13

Accordingly, GDP per capita should itself serve as an approximate indicator for human well-being. And since the Stern Review estimates include losses from market effects, non-market effects from environmental and public health impacts, and the risk of catastrophe, the net GDP per capita shown in Figure 1 should also serve as a useful but imperfect indicator of human well-being that fully considers the effects of unmitigated warming.

In any case, because climate change impacts assessments as a rule do not provide projections of life expectancy and educational factors that could be employed to estimate HDI, future net GDP per capita, despite its imperfections, is perhaps the best one can do for an indicator of future human well-being that also accounts for the impacts of warming.

Figure 1, therefore, indicates that if humanity has a choice, it ought to strive for the developmental path corresponding to the richest scenario notwithstanding any associated global warming.

This should, moreover, have additional knock-on benefits. First, adaptive capacity should be highest under the wealthiest scenario, ceteris paribus.10 Thus, society’s ability to cope with (or take advantage of) any global warming ought to be highest under this scenario. [Note that the upper bound estimates of damages from unmitigated climate change are already factored into the derivation of net GDP per capita.] Second, the health impact of global warming should be least under the richest scenario because this impact is related to poverty, and poverty is most likely to be eliminated—and eliminated sooner—under this scenario. Third, many health risks that currently rank higher than global warming are also poverty-related (Figure 2). More importantly, the cumulative contribution of various poverty-related diseases to global death and disease is 70–80 times greater than warming. But these diseases are also most likely to be eradicated under the wealthiest-but-warmest scenario. Fourth, mitigative capacity should also be highest under the wealthiest scenario.10

Finally, the wealthiest scenario should also have the highest adaptive and mitigative capacities to address not just climate change but any other problem. As shown elsewhere,10,12,13 the determinants of human well-being improve with economic and technological development. The relationship is somewhat more complex for environmental determinants: initially these determinants deteriorate, but then go through an environmental transition after which they begin to improve, with development.12,13 This is why the wealthiest countries generally have a cleaner environment, greater reversion of agricultural lands to nature and, de facto, more stringent environmental protections than developing. Given the projections of net GDP per capita (Figure 1), all countries are more likely to be on the right side of the environmental transition by 2100, particularly under the warmest scenario.

A corollary to this is that if greenhouse gas policies effectively increase poverty, e.g., by slowing economic growth or increasing the prices of basic needs (such as food to adequately fulfill the body’s energy requirements or fuel to maintain safe ambient conditions) then the resulting mortality increases might, given the climate system’s inertia, exceed any reductions in these health effects due to GHG reductions for decades.

A case in point is biofuels. Much of the increase in biofuel production is the result of policies designed to displace fossil fuel consumption, partly due to the perceived need to limit GHG emissions. This has had the unintended consequence of increasing food prices and, indirectly, hunger and poverty in developing countries. The increase in poverty due to increased biofuel production since 2004 in response to such policies is estimated to have increased deaths in 2010 by 192,000 and disease by 6.7 million lost DALYs[23] which exceeds the 141,000 deaths and 5.4 million lost DALYs attributed to warming.16

To summarize, climate change is not the world’s most important problem. Other problems have a larger negative impact on human and environmental well-being. Reduced economic development, in particular, would be a bigger problem, especially for developing countries. And if climate change policies compromise such development, they too can become problems despite the best of intentions. On the other hand, greater economic and technological development would help society deal not only with climate change, but other, higher priority problems simultaneous3ly.


Although the paper doesn’t explicitly address the issue of whether the global temperature increase (∆T) ought to be limited to 2 °C above pre-industrial, the analyses presented in the paper indicates that human well-being under the warmest scenario (which is projected to increase ∆T by 4 °C above 1990 by 2085) is higher than under the cooler scenarios, despite substantially overestimating its net negative impacts (at least through 2200). Note that the net GDP per capita analysis on which this is based does consider environmental impacts and the risk of catastrophe, courtesy of the Stern Review.


Finally, I have a request for the reader who my wish to post a question on this blog entry, please read the whole thing, because I’ll only be available sporadically to respond to questions. Thanks.


[1] Lorenzoni I, and Adger WN. Critique of Treatments of Adaptation Costs in PAGE and FUND Models. In: Warren, R. et al. eds. Spotlighting Impacts Functions in Integrated Assessment Models, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research Working Paper 91, Norwich, 2006, 72–79. See p.74.

[2] Parry ML, Livermore M., eds. A new assessment of the global effects of climate change. Global Environmental Change 1999, 9:S1–S107.

[3] Arnell NW, Cannell MGR, Hulme M, Kovats RS, Mitchell JFB, Nicholls RJ, Parry ML, Livermore MTJ, White A. The consequences of CO2 stabilization for the impacts of climate change. Climatic Change 2002, 53:413–46.

[4] Parry ML, ed. Special issue: an assessment of the global effects of climate change under SRES emissions and socio-economic scenarios. Global Environmental Change 2004, 14:1–99.

[5] Tol RSJ. The Social Cost of Carbon: Trends, Outliers and Catastrophes. Economics—the Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal 2008, 2(25):1–24.

[6] US Global Change Research Program. 2009. Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, Cambridge University Press, 2009. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, page 18.

[7] Goklany IM. 2009. Trapped Between the Falling Sky and the Rising Seas: The Imagined Terrors of the Impacts of Climate Change. University of Pennsylvania Workshop on Markets & the Environment, December 13 2009.

[8] IPCC. Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2007, page 17.

[9] Goklany IM. Is a Richer-but-warmer World Better than Poorer-but-cooler Worlds? Energy & Environment 2007, 18 (7 and 8):1023–1048.

[10] Goklany IM. Integrated strategies to reduce vulnerability and advance adaptation, mitigation, and sustainable development. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 2007;doi:10.1007/s11027-007-9098-1.

[11] Goklany IM. Discounting the Future. Regulation 2009 (Spring) 32:36-40.

[12] Goklany IM. Have increases in population, affluence and technology worsened human and environmental well-being? Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development 2009, 1(3).

[13] Goklany IM. The Improving State of the World. Cato Institute, Washington, DC, 2007.

[14] van Lieshout M, Kovats RS, Livermore MTJ, Marten P. Climate change and malaria: analysis of the SRES climate and socio-economic scenarios. Global Environmental Change 2004, 14(1):87–99.

[15] Goklany IM. Deaths and Death Rates from Extreme Weather Events: 1900-2008. Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 2009, 14 (4):102–09.

[16] World Health Organization (WHO). Global Health Risks. Geneva: WHO; 2009. (accessed May 8 2011)

[17] Costello A, and University College London-Institute for Global Health and Lancet Commission. Managing the health effects of climate change. Lancet 2009, 373:1693–1733.

[18] McMichael AJ, Woodruff RF, Hales S. Climate change and human health: present and future risks. Lancet 2006, 367:859–869.

[19] Arnell NW, van Vuuren DP, Isaac M. The implications of climate policy for the impacts of climate change on global water resources. Global Environmental Change 2011, 21:592–603.

[20] UN Development Program. 2011. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Human Development Index (HDI). (accessed December 23 2011).

[21] Sen A. Assessing Human Development: Special Contribution In: United Nations Development Programme (1999). Human Development Report 1999. New York: Oxford University Press, 23.

[22] UN Development Program. International Human Development Indicators, 2011. (accessed November 26 2011).

[23] Goklany IM. Could Biofuel Policies Increase Death and Disease in Developing Countries? Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons 16 (1):9–13.

24 Stern N. The Economics of Climate Change. Her Majesty’s Treasury, London, 2006.


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Finally some perspective on climate change. Without political or green doom spin it all manageable.
Sorry, no end of civilization, man or the global ecosystem soon.


I guess they haven’t gotten the memo over widespread vitamin D deficiency which is probably the worst of all when it comes to nutrition.
Also, they really need to clarity on what high cholesterol is. It is very misleading. They need to break it down to 3 category – HDL, large LDL particle (harmless) and small LDL particle which is responsible for heart disease brought on by chronic high blood sugar level. High HDL level (over 50) is what you want for protective against heart disease. Dr. Mike Davis’ Track Your Plaque is probably a good place to get started over this.

Robert in Calgary

I would say that “climate change” and reducing greenhouses gases aren’t even close to being a top priority.
I would like to see a thread where readers are invited to list their top 10 priorities for improvements on this planet. And how it breaks down as to specific goals vs general goals.

Global Warming (Climate Change, Climate Disruption, whatever) is not a threat to humanity but the belief in Global Warming (Climate Change, Climate Disruption, whatever) is a severe threat to all peoples.

Wow. Very useful perspective on CAGW in context. We could be alarmed about almost anything EXCEPT CAGW! The only thing is the assumption that threats to humanity would be accepted as problem by warmists, on the contrary. Gaia would be better off without us, right? /sarc

Climate Change as an existential threat to humanity is quite popular in some quarters. In order for that to occur (defined by say, a death rate of 50%, even though that wouldn’t be genuinely existential), we have to have warming in excess of 20C IMO. And that would require a major tipping point triggering a big positive feedback we don’t know about – Polar ice loss wouldn’t do it.
The reason I say 20C is most of the warming would be in cold places, at cold times of year. I can’t believe the tropics can get significantly hotter than they are now.
I think the existence of such a tipping point very unlikely, but can’t be sure, in part because the climate models are so poor. Although, there are quite a number of models, they are all pretty much clones of each other. What needs to be done is funding of research outside the climate science club to investigate the possibility of such a tipping point – the exact opposite of consensus science.
Very nice work, Indur, but I am not sure about equating ‘the number one threat to humanity’, with an existential threat to humanity. I can think of several existential threats to humanity, and warming in the range the IPCC predicts, isn’t one of them.

A nicely done doc, to be sure!
The real “warming” problem’s the “cure”
But I’m pleased you’re well-treated
(Are they feeling defeated?)
Their review’s not too hard to Indur
===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

Jim Clarke

“The increase in poverty due to increased biofuel production since 2004 in response to such policies is estimated to have increased deaths in 2010 by 192,000 and disease by 6.7 million lost DALYs[23] which exceeds the 141,000 deaths and 5.4 million lost DALYs attributed to warming.”
And biofuel is just one policy. All policies that raise the price of food and/or energy have a trickle down negative impact on the poorest among us; increasing disease and mortality.
In the case of carbon mitigation, the cure is far worse than the disease!
(If only the NPR crowd understood what was really happening, they would cheer Anthony Watts and complain about the warmists getting air time!)


The response to the imagined climate problem is akin to chopping off the whole leg to cure what is no more than a mosquito bite on the little toe.

Considering the tribal nature of much of the debate surrounding global warming and the general unwillingness of, for lack of a better word, “warmists” […]

If you’re looking for a “better word”, Dr. Goklany, you might wish to consider Eduardo Zorita’s recent coinage “climate hypochondriacs”:

[Q:] Are there “alarmists”? Is that a good term?
[Zorita:]Yes, I think there are alarmists, if by that term we include those that see anthropogenic forcing behind every change we see in the environment. Perhaps alarmist is not the right term. I would rather use the expression ‘climate hypochondriacs’.

It seems to me that in the context of “Climate Change [as] the Number One Threat to Humanity”, perhaps “climate hypochondriacs” works equally well for “warmists” 😉


““climate hypochondriacs””
Now I really like that one.. can we all start using it , please?
It really puts them on the correct level.


Is Climate Change the Number One Threat to Humanity?
On the time-scale of human evolution it is more likely that humanity will suffer more depopulation as a result of another Ice Age before a large depopulation caused by a collision with an extra-terrestrial entity. In that context the answer to the above question is yes.
No amount of war, poverty, drought, hurricanes, floods, volcanoes and tsunami could ever cause as much harm to humanity as a 3 mile thick slab of ice covering the earth food growing regions for generations. Given the duration of the event an Ice Age may be in fact more devastating to humanity then a strike from a Manhattan sized object.
The question about the question is; what exactly does the asker means when they use the term ‘Climate Change’?

James Hein

If you change the perspective then right now the support of climate change is indeed the number one threat to humanity. If you add up the amount of money spent on this farce world wide over the past ten years or so and work out how much damage the removal of such money from the world in terms of medicine not provided, clean water not available, simple medical procedures not carried out and the damage to real ecological concerns then in that sense climate change is indeed the biggest threat but not for any of the reasons the warmists may cite. Add in the long term damage to the reputation of science and scientists in general and there is little left to argue except for the reduction in standards of living because electricity is not available. I shudder to think of the total of this in terms of real lives lost, in particular of children, due to what was missed because global warming and climate change received the funding instead.

Although I can’t give correct attribution to the originator of this comment, it has been stated that far and away the leading cause of human mortality in the 20th Century (and most centuries before that it was certainly a large, if not always the largest contributor) was being killed by your own government/monarchy/junta, either directly by murder or mayhem for political ends, or indirectly in the name of your government at the hands of yet another government.
Climate deaths are, were, and always have been small potatoes in the broad scheme of things, dwarfed by politics and by disease, with 2 million entirely preventable deaths p.a just from malaria alone. Most deaths due to starvation or poverty are really geopolitical in cause, with the 1970’s Ethiopian situation a case in point with civil wars and government callous disregard for its own people the main contributors. In a modern technologically advanced world with access to proper sanitation, high quality medicines and high quality domestic building infrastructure, the proportion of deaths possibly attributable to climate is rapidly diminishing, not increasing. As disease declines due to Western medicine and research, the proportion of human deaths due to geopolitics is likely to increase exponentially, perhaps dare I say even to reach a “tipping point”.
So, the number one threat to humanity- one word- “government”. The solution simplistically would seem to be- less government.


“climate hypochondriacs” — I like the ring of that too, more accurate of a description, “warmists” always seemed a bit lacking.
Hmm, “oco-hypochondriacs”? No, too cryptic… but a chemist should get it. 🙂


Winston101 says: October 17, 2012 at 9:54 pm
[…far and away the leading cause of human mortality in the 20th Century (and most centuries before that it was certainly a large, if not always the largest contributor) was being killed by your own government/monarchy/junta, either directly by murder or mayhem for political ends, or indirectly in the name of your government at the hands of yet another government.]
Consider that all of the 7 billion alive today will all be dead in about 75 years. That is about 93 million per year.
The Second World War killed about 50 million in seven years, about 7 million per year, that is more than an order of magnitude less than Nature.
Why do people continue to believe that the actions of humans can come anywhere close to the forces of nature?
“ has been stated that far and away the leading cause of human mortality in the 20th Century…”, and likely it has been often repeated by people like you, but that does not make it true.


Traffic accidents?


Munich Re provides the CAGW scary story of the day:
18 Oct: Sydney Morning Herald: North America sees biggest jump in climate change-related disasters: MunichRe
Climate change contributed to a fivefold increase in weather-related natural disasters in North America over the past three decades, according to Munich Re, the world’s biggest reinsurer.
“Nowhere in the world is the rising number of natural catastrophes more evident than in North America,” Peter Hoeppe, head of Munich Re’s Geo Risks Research unit, told reporters in Munich today. There was a four-fold gain in disasters in Asia, while the number doubled in Europe, the reinsurer said…
Increases in climate change-related hazards aren’t automatically reflected in premiums, the reinsurer said.
“If prices are not adequately reflecting the risks in our view, we would have to retreat from covering some US risks such as hurricanes,” said Peter Roeder, Munich Re’s management board member responsible for North America and global clients. “At the moment, prices are still adequate.”…
***“Climate change particularly affects formation of heat- waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run most probably also tropical cyclone intensity,” Hoeppe said. “The view that weather extremes are becoming more frequent and intense in various regions due to global warming is in keeping with current scientific findings.”…


18 Oct: Australian: Matthew Denholm: Critics on all sides as Australia leads way on Antarctic protection
AUSTRALIA and France have developed a plan to protect 1.9 million square kilometres of east Antarctica as new marine parks, although a report today will call for an even larger reserve.
The Australia-France proposal, backed by the EU, covers seven coastal zones in east Antarctica…
The 25-member Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources will have the final say on the proposal at a meeting beginning in Hobart (Tasmania) next week. It is understood there is some concern from several nations, including Russia and China, that the new protected areas will unduly restrict fishing or even scientific research…
The Antarctic Ocean Alliance, a coalition of global conservation groups, will today release a report welcoming Australia’s plan but arguing it should be expanded to 2.5 million square kilometres.
Alliance director Steve Campbell said the new marine parks should be upgraded to full reserve status to allow fishing “no take” zones to be imposed…
***Mr Campbell said Antarctic ecosystems were under threat from fishing or climate change…

treat to humanity from the phony GLOBAL warming propaganda is real! No, there is no such a thing as GLOBAL warming – but aggressive, misleading propaganda is creating fanatics on both sides of the sandpit. When they realize that: climate keeps changing for much worse, but is no such a thing as GLOBAL warming -> psychiatrists and straight jacket manufacturers will become very busy. Prevention is better than cure; if anybody can face a good dose of reality: .

Already in 2004 the Copenhagen Consensus led by Bjørn Lomborg, a skeptical environmentalist, arrived at a surprising result: climate change was not a high priority. See
And in the following repeats similar outcome have been produced, the last in 2012. See The only action proposal that is somehow linked to climate is the investment in R&D to be made to increase agricultural yields (i.e. tons per hectare).
With exception of The Economist the media did not report on these quite sensible approaches. They may look too heretic even if produced by panels composed of undisputable personalities.

george e smith

Well I would say yes; climate change IS the number one threat to humanity. And if we can’t get these warmist nut jobs off their public trough swilling binge; perish the thought they might even do something useful; we will all be going over the cliff with them.
Well the single greatest scourge to ever inflict the human race is of course something else we here about every day; but climate change runs that a close second.

I think we are at cross purposes.
My statement was referring to mortality that was in some way premature or taken over and above regulation levels, ie a threat to human survival as the paper above is referencing with respect to climate. I don’t believe the article was referring to old age, degenerative conditions or non-communicable diseases, or other forms of human mortality which form the norm.
Stalinism, Lysenkoism, Mao’s cultural revolution, WW1 and 2, Pol Pot, various ethnic cleansings, and other similar political purges around the globe removed young, vital and healthy people who would otherwise have lived full and active lives contributing to society. They I’m sure would have all died eventually, but that is hardly the point is it. We are talking about attribution of deaths outside the norm for so called climate change as opposed to other AVOIDABLE causes. Governments as a cause of death are avoidable (through eg. separation of powers and a free unbiased press among other things), climate change is a storm in a tea cup whose worst case scenarios, as unlikely as they are, can be mitigated against rather than attempting a King Canute approach. Death due to natural causes is not only unavoidable, but necessary from a species perspective.

I really like Anthony’s concept to actually look at what this Climate Change, Global Warming industry has created in our minds. He has put into perspective what a recent Australian Prime Minister called “greatest moral challange of our time”. CAGW certainly isn’t that and Anthony’s message needs to be spread far and wide. Thank you Anthony for working this thing through. Your analysis should have resounding implications on the AGW consensus. And may I say your efforts are really appreciated down here in OZ.
REPLY: For the record, this is a guest post by Dr. Indur Goklany, but thanks just the same – Anthony

Brian H

Is making the planet’s population much wealthier and better feed the number one threat to humanity? Apparently so, for a warmist.
BTW, the always-accurate UN Population Survey’s ‘Low Band’ projections say peak around 2040 at >8 bn., declining thereafter.
(Select/open the Low Band page tab at the bottom.)

Brian H

Let’s assume that:
(1) ‘humanity’ means Homo sapiens’ as represented by the current gene pool;
(2) that the time line for this question is open-ended;
(3) that Darwinian evolutionary theory is operative.
(4) that climate has the potential to affect which genes will survive and which genes will die out
(5) that Homo sapiens has considerable current and potential to have an impact on evolutionary pressures.
(6) that societies can, in the broad, be divided into wealthy and poor.
(7) that a change in the current genetic profile of humanity represents the evolution of a new humanity, if not (yet) a new species.
I acknowledge that these are assumptions and are open to considerable discussion.
In general, the wealthy are going to be the last to be affected by any negative climate change (whether natural or anthropogenic). They will be able to buy their way to higher land, to being first in the queue for nutrients and potable water, and first in the queue for medical services. The net result is that wealthy individuals usually survive for long enough to pass on their genes. The wealthy, therefore, have virtually no genetic selection pressures arising from climate change. Their part of the H. sapiens gene pool is, therefore, unlikely to be affected by climate change. But there is a paradox: the pattern in nearly all societies is that the wealthy are less likely to pass on their genes than the poor. They raise fewer children. In fact, if the wealthy did not recruit new members from outside their gene pool, they would go extinct as a human group for lack of replacement recruitment.
That leaves the potential genetic impact of climate on the poor individuals of H. sapiens.
There is virtually a one-to-one relationship between being very poor and going hungry. (Depending very much how you count them, there are around 1 billion people who are poor enough to go to bed hungry every night.) But being hungry does not necessarily mean that poor individuals fail to pass along their genes.
But occasionally (and more and more frequently) this background hunger escalates into famine and mass deaths from starvation. A cursory glance at the results of droughts in particular reveals that there are considerable selection pressures. The combination of drought, disease and famine (often made worse by wars arising from competition for scarce resources) may lead to mortality of many individuals. Significantly, the mortality is often highest amongst those who have yet to have an opportunity to pass along their genes: children, of whom around 5 million are reckoned to die of hunger and hunger-related diseases a year.
Let us assume that the death of children in droughts is not random and that there is a climatic component to the selection pressures. It follows that the genetic composition of drought survivors will reflect successful genes, for example, the ability to withstand extreme temperatures, the ability to withstand both hunger and disease, the ability to withstand low nutrient levels. Such survivors will reach adulthood and pass along the successful genes.
It follows that if there are more extreme climate events and/or there are consequent trends in the cost of nutrients and water, then H. sapiens will adapt, genetically. Any increasing trends in climate selection pressures would have the impact of speeding H. sapiens’ evolution.
There is considerable complexity. There are plenty of examples of species which have extremely limited genetic range, often related to a climate-related bottleneck – an ice age. Such species are, typically, highly vulnerable to new selective pressures, lacking as they do the genetic range from which to adapt.
OTOH, it is arguable that the within-species genetic range of H. sapiens allows for considerable adaptive potential.
Then there are extinctions, 99% of all species are thought to have become extinct. At higher levels of classification, many extinctions coincide with the five major extinction events. Of these several relate to a high degree of rapid chemical change in seawater associated with methane increases. If, whether for natural or anthropogenic reasons, the clathrates mobilise, the tundra thaws and natural methanes become unblocked in a short event, then those H. sapiens which depend on the 100 million tons of wild caught food for their protein are likely to face intense selection pressures. Those who are adapted to a smaller proportion of protein in their diets are likely to pass along their genes. At any rate, H sapiens would adapt, genetically, to a mass methane release. Clearly, part of our understanding of the climatic impacts on our gene pool depends on whether certain thresholds and certain runaway feedback events occur.
Finally, the evolution of H. sapiens is occurring with the evolution of other species. These may be affected by climate change and may well have a compounding impact on human evolution.
H. sapiens is already adapting genetically to climate through selective pressures on poor people, particularly in areas where droughts already kill children.
Whether the quantity and quality of climate selection pressures force adaptations that are far enough and fast enough to create a new Homo species is open to considerable conjecture.
Given the considerable complexity in issues relating to adaptation, it is impossible, to rate climate change as a threat comparative to other threats to H. sapiens. The bottom line, however, is clear: through adaptation to climatic selective pressures, H. sapiens is already adapting. Large scale and rapid changes to climate are likely to speed the selective pressures and the rate of change on the H. sapiens gene pool.
If the anthropogenic global warming theory holds, then the genetic future for H. sapiens may well be where it started: in the drier areas of Africa.
As a paradox, the wealthy of New York, Beijing, Moscow and New Delihi are currently making little current adaptive contribution to H. sapiens adaptation to climate change and are less likely to do so in the future.

Brian H

typo above: “wealthier and better feed fed …”

Brian H

Of course, Dr. G., what further reduces much of the above to irrelevant incoherence is ceding the assumption that CO2 has more than bubkis* to do with temperature. It does, of course, enhance agriculture (its only documented effect).
*technical term, meaning “squat”, “nothing whatsoever”, etc.


I’ve got a tough one for both Mr. Goklany, and Anthony:
I would very much like to be able to re-post this article to another site, or at least a portion of it. All the proper credits and links would of course be put into place.
The site in question is It is an art site, but very heavily populated by those who believe in ‘man-made’ global warming. There are, at least, a few there, who appreciate this kind of information. The True Believers, not so much. At this point I am the ONLY one who posts anything on the Skeptic side of the issue.
I’ve asked similar permission of Dr Pielke Jr, Pointman, and several others who’s names escape me at 5am in the morning.


I think climate change is the number threat to humanity in the 21st century, since it affects many other sectors as well. Humanity is dependent on climate, therefore everything then ties in together, like the inequalities between different countries and within countries. This also links to povery, crime rate, the economy and more.
For example third world countries mostly produce raw materials and export it to developed countries. If the economy of the most developed counties like Britain were to fail due to climate related issues like catastrophic hurricanes, the poor counties will be directly influenced by those events. Unless things are done sustainable from on, we might be facing an anthropogenic human extinction in the near future.


I think the biggest threat to humanity is humanity itself. Why can we not learn from history?

They seemed to have overlooked a global pandemic such as influenza e.g. Bird Flu and Swine Flu which have the potential to reduce the world population by significant amounts. The 1918 Spanish flu took 50 million people, and that is without the social mobility we have today. Not many people travelled by aeroplane in those days.
We also have a rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria which again could easily wipe out large sections of the population.
I think these scenarios are much more serious than the threat of as yet unproven extreme global warming.


“JennyR says:
October 18, 2012 at 2:10 am”
I am not sure where you obtain your information about their world countries, and I specifically focus on East Africa here, but you are seriously misinformed. Anyone in these countries involved in export typically are not locals, unless they are Govn’t offcials etc. The wealth extracted is, indeed, exported and none of the locals benefit at all, or very little, from that resource export. Many are simply existing trying to find enough money to buy the next meal and even some who actually do work and get paid relatively well in comparison, still struggle to make ends meet, so many go hungry. Many are also forced, by corrupt corporates/officials/govn’t, off their lands so that food can be grown for biofuels.
Climate change has nothing to do with the poverty, crime rates and economy in Ethiopia for instance.


‘Considering the tribal nature of much of the debate surrounding global warming…’
Most of the debate surrounding global warming is in the form of thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers. Such papers typically lack sarcasm, emotion, irony and ad hominem attacks. They are often written in the second person and also use the passive voice. The tone is usually dry and the general approach is to dampen emotions and to encourage rational discussion. These attributes apply regardless of which theory the scientific authors subscribe to.
A lesser proportion of the debate occurs in blogs. Certain blogs, and associated strings of commentary, may have ‘tribal’ characteristics: in-groups, the use of sarcasm, the use of ad hominem pejoratives, inflammatory us- or -them language, the use of sarcasm, ill-judged attacks about the motivation of others, other elements characteristic of paranoia, cherry-picking of data, misrepresentation of data, profound distrust of others and a general lack of rational scientific discussion. IMHO, this is a small (if disproportionately noisy) proportion of the entire global debate about climate.
Tribal members also use key word terms such as ‘warmists’ and ‘deniers’. These terms are not scientific and are essentially meaningless other than as tribal identifiers.
As for the public debate represented in the mainstream media, it is difficult to characterize it even as ‘tribal’. It is certainly not science and mostly lacks anything that resembles rational ‘debate’. Much better, in general, to write it off as mere entertainment.
‘… for lack of a better word, “warmists”…’
A better phrase would be: ‘Those who support the theory that anthropomorphic global warming trends sit on top of trends in natural variations in climate.’
A corollary are ‘Those who support the theory that variations in climate trends can be ascribed to natural causes.’
‘…and the general unwillingness of, for lack of a better word, “warmists”…to engage in a dispassionate exchange of views,’
As noted above the mass of thousands of scientific papers is dispassionate. Most of these papers are written by those who support the theory that anthropogenic global warming trends sit on top of climate trends caused by natural causes. The willingness to engage in the science is clear.
‘…to actually publish my contrarian piece after they had read it!…’
‘contrarian’ to what? Usually the explicit or implied meaning would be contrary to a generally accepted position or consensus. If this is the intent of the writer, then a brief acknowledgement of the consensus would be useful to clarify what is meant.


At October 18, 2012 at 2:10 am you assert

Unless things are done sustainable from on, we might be facing an anthropogenic human extinction in the near future.

If your assertion is true then it is clearly important and requires that “things are done sustainable”.
Please define “sustainable” so we can know what to do.


“Threat” does not equate directly with risk.
An asteroid the size of Oklahoma is a greater threat to humanity. But most unlikely.
Climate change, in the form of a 4C LOWERING of global temperature, is a great threat, and it is somewhat LIKELY. Therefore, CLIMATE CHANGE IS the number one threat to humanity.
Not what the warmists are pushing, but still real. Will it happen in 100 years? A 1000 years? No one knows.


How Ironic that the editor-in-chief of this journal is Professor Mike Hulme, creator of the alarmist UK Tyndall Centre and proponent of post-normal science:
Tyndall Press Releases (a few typical examples)
7 November 2000
What can we do about climate change?
“As Britain battles through floods and major transport disruption, and the nations gear up for the UN climate conference at the Hague, how can responsible businesses and organisations prepare for climate change?
Dr Mike Hulme, the Centre’s Executive Director, said: “Society is at last waking up to climate change. What might once have been considered unusual weather conditions for the UK – the recent storms and flooding, for example – are likely to be much more frequent occurrences.”
5 September 2001
At Risk from Climate Change: Wildlife, Plants … and Scotland
“Earlier research carried out by Dr Hulme for the Scottish Executive modelled the possible effects of climate change on Scotland: “over the coming century warming of up to 3 degrees Celsius could take place across Scotland; this would be accompanied by increases in average wind speeds at all time of the year and increases in rainfall intensity, especially in winter. Information of this type should be incorporated into planning regulations and design guidelines for new infrastructure,” he said.”
8 April 2003
“We have changed our environment significantly throughout our history. Global climate change poses a different type of threat: the rate of warming already exceeds anything experienced in the last 10,000 years. But can we survive this dramatically changing climate and are the Earth’s ecosystems resilient enough to survive in their current form given the other pressures they are subjected to by human development?
This is the major challenge laid down today by Professor Mike Hulme, a senior climate change scientist at an international conference on Global climate change and biodiversity at the University of East Anglia, Norwich.”
7th January 2004
“Scientists devise ‘equal rights’ system to combat climate change
Scientists at UMIST’s Tyndall Centre have devised a system to combat climate change giving each and every adult in the country an equal greenhouse gas ‘allowance’. Unlike a carbon tax system, where people emit as much carbon dioxide as the amount of fuel plus carbon tax they can afford, each adult would be given a smart card that only allows them to use a certain amount of carbon ‘units’.”
21 September 2005
“Everyone’s carbon dioxide emissions must go to zero to allow for aviation pollution reveals major analysis of UK climate change targets. All householders, motorists and businesses will have to reduce their carbon dioxide pollution to zero if the growing aviation industry is to be incorporated into Government climate change targets for 2050 reveals new research from the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.”
30th November 2005
UK’s Tyndall Centre further funded for its groundbreaking work on climate change solutions
“Professor Mike Hulme is pleased to announce a further three years funding from the UK’s Research Councils to support the unique mission of the Tyndall Centre in doing high quality climate change science that is truly useful for both scientific theory and for policy practice. “We will continue to break new ground in innovative research on several national and international climate change themes and be a world exemplar for doing joined-up science for society” said Professor Hulme.”
03 May 2006
Archbishop of Canterbury launches Tyndall Centre’s new climate
change research strategy Dr Rowan Williams the Archbishop of Canterbury is tomorrow helping the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research launch its new research strategy.
“Climate change is not only about science and technology” says Professor Mike Hulme, Founding Director of the Tyndall Centre and Professor at the University of East Anglia. “Climate change raises profound questions about ethics, justice and equity affecting this and future generations and about humanity’s relationship with the planet. The Tyndall Centre recognises these dimensions as of fundamental importance and seeks to integrate them with our science, engineering and economic research.”
UK’s first climate road map published
Sep 15 2006
“The Government has only four years to implement a major new programme of action to cut carbon emissions if the UK is to play its part in keeping global temperatures below danger levels warned a new report launched by The Co-operative Bank and Friends of the Earth today.
The report, ‘The Future starts here: the route to a low carbon economy’ is based upon research commissioned from The Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Manchester. It is the UK’s first comprehensive roadmap to a low carbon economy that would deliver on Government commitments to keep temperatures from rising beyond a critical point.”
As our energy costs in the UK continue to escalate and we are at risk of blackouts in the not too distant future, I say thank you Professor Hulme, thanks a bundle.


If the economy of the most developed counties like Britain were to fail due to climate related issues like catastrophic hurricanes,~JennyR
Consider the following, jennyR:
Worst Hurricane to Hit England
On Oct. 15/87 a BBC weatherman famously dismissed any rumours that a hurrican was on its way to souther England. Scientifically he was correct, but Souther England still suffered the worst storm since 1703 and 4th worst since records began. Such a storm is only predicted to occur in the United Kingdom once every 300 years. Since 1987 the number of recording stations and the use of satellites has increased greatly. It is unlikely that the UK would be caught out in such a way again!
The Gream Storm of 1987 was not officially classified as a hurricane by meteorologists as is was gusts, not sustained winds that reached hurrican force. On the Beaufort scale, a Hurrican Force wind (Force 12) is defined at 64 knots or more for a period of at least 10 mins. Gusts of wind, which cause most of the major damage, are not included in the classification of hurricanes. In 1987 a top wind speed of 70 knots over 10 mins., was recorded in Hampshire, but this was only an average and could therefore not be classified as hurricane force.
Although not defined technically as a hurricane, gusts up to 122 MPH caused havoc and extensive damage across London and the Home Countries. A total and unequalled 15 million trees were lost, including 6 of the famous oaks at Sevenoaks. 18 people were killed. London lost power for the first time since the Blitze and 1.9 billion pounds of damage was caused. A ship capsized at Dover and across the channell a ferry was blown ashore near Folkestone. 90% of Kent’s roads were blocked due to fallen trees and other damage. The Great Storm of 1987 coould have claimed many more than the 18 lives if it had hit Southern England during daylight hours.
BTW, those 3rd-world countries will benefit from increased warmth, and be able to export even more.

Bob Ryan

The four horses of the environmental apocalypse can be succinctly described by just four P’s: Population, Poverty, Politics and Pollution – none of which can be solved in isolation. It’s how they connect that matters.

Old Forge

Meanwhile, in the world of unverifiable claims:
Global warming freezes world economy
NEW YORK, Oct 18, 2012 (AFP) – Climate change caused by global warming is freezing the world economy and already leading to the deaths of millions every year, a report commissioned by 20 of the world’s most vulnerable countries said Wednesday.
“Climate Vulnerability Monitor: a guide to the cold calculus of a hot planet” says global warming will not only lead to environmental catastrophe, but is choking the international economy. Key findings include estimates that carbon-intensive economies and associated climate change are responsible for five million deaths a year, 90 percent of them related to air pollution. “Failure to act on climate change already costs the world economy 1.6 percent of global GDP amounting to $1.2 trillion in forgone prosperity a year,” said the report, produced by the DARA research center and released at the Asia Society in New York. In addition, “rapidly escalating temperatures and carbon-related pollution will double costs to 3.2 percent of world GDP by 2030.” According to the report, “unprecedented harm” is being inflicted on humanity. However, tackling climate change’s causes would bring “significant economic benefits for world, major economies and poor nations alike,” the report said.
Former Costa Rican president Jose Maria Figueres said at the presentation that there is a “fantastic” opportunity in steering away from carbon-intensive economies. “There’s a tremendous amount of opportunity in terms of development around the world as we reinvent everything,” he said. “This is where the future is.” Anything less, he said, is “in some ways similar to rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.” The report says that while poorer countries face the steepest economic damage in terms of GDP losses, big countries will not be spared. “In less than 20 years China will incur the greatest share of all losses at over $1.2 trillion. The US economy will be held back by more two percent of GDP; India, over five percent of its GDP,” the report said. It said these projected losses “dwarf the modest costs” of addressing climate change.
The climate forum’s chairman, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said weather pattern changes would be especially devastating for her crowded country. “One degree Celsius rise in temperature is associated with 10 percent productivity loss in farming,” she said at the New York launch of the report. “For us, it means losing about four million metric tonnes of food grain, amounting to about $2.5 billion. That is about two percent of our GDP. “Adding up the damages to property and other losses, we are faced with a total loss of about three to four percent of GDP.” A sea level rise of a meter (three feet), she said, would inundate a fifth of the low-lying territory, displacing nearly 30 million people. “The scenario would be just as horrifying for small island developing states like Maldives, Kiribati and Tuvalu,” she said. Maldives President Mohamed Waheed called his country “ground zero for observing the impact of changing climate,” but said the dramatic threat to the islands’ future will eventually come to seemingly safe countries. “It’s only a matter of time before every nation has to step in our shoes.”
Jeremy Hobbs, executive director of the aid agency Oxfam International, called the report “another reminder that climate change’s most savage impact is hunger and poverty.” “The economic and social costs of political inaction of unchecked climate change are staggering,” he said. “Behind the statistics are the stories of real families and communities, for whom climate change means putting children to bed with empty stomachs.” Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Mohamed Mijarul Quayes told the forum in New York that radical change from carbon-heavy economies is the only way forward. “There’s no plan B, because there’s no planet B,” he said.


Climate change? Isn’t that code for Anthropogenic CO2-driven Catastrophic Global Warming? That train has left the station.
Oh well. If someone is really concerned about rising sea levels swamping Florida, I’m looking for a retirement property there. I suppose you can convince me to take that risky property off your hands before the sea reaches the windowsills. If the price is low enough, I’ll assume the risk.

Thanks for sharing your work. Here are some comments on your draft respectfully submitted from an interested layman:
1. Malaria infection could be eliminated in a decade if DDT is just used very sparingly (say, twice a year) on interior house walls. Sadly, DDT is a ‘3rd rail’ for gutless politicians and environmental groups scared of elitist contributors.
2. All of your analysis ought to be built on GDP/person, wealth/person, and income/family — three factors having huge impacts on ALL projections — everything!
3. ‘Climate change’ (CC) is nonsensical Orwellian terminology. Why not be a refreshingly correct academic pioneer with your grammar! Try ‘natural climate change’ (NCC), and ‘anthropocentric climate’ change (ACC).
4. Life expectancy (therefore population projections) are laughably low in view of proven but not yet commercialized (except by your dog’s vet) pluripotent stem cell technologies.
5. It is a strange oversight to not address the unavoidable political turmoil already resulting from the collapsing job base in advanced nations caused by robotic manufacturing and robotic retail services.
6. Academic papers relying on Stern’s ridiculously low discount rates go in real world trashcans.
7. The impacts of proven trends and not yet commercialized technologies are grossly underestimated —e.g. internet impact on de-urbanization of housing/workplace patterns; the impact on food supply of drip irrigation and ocean food production; the impact on water supply of desalination of sea water and ultra-deep ground water; and the impact of televised internet education.
8. Failing to acknowledge the long term energy shift to huge supplies of cheap ‘fracked’ natural gas is a big flaw.
9. Failure to acknowledge collapse of the AGW hypothesis (and the minimal influence of CO2) seriously undermines the editorial’s credibility.

The inimitable Joe Romm has provided us with a ‘An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts’ at
Here are a few choice threats to humanity:
•Staggeringly high temperature rise, especially over land — some 10°F over much of the United States
•Permanent Dust Bowl conditions over the U.S. Southwest and many other regions around the globe that are heavily populated and/or heavily farmed.
•Sea level rise of some 1 foot by 2050, then 4 to 6 feet (or more) by 2100, rising some 6 to 12 inches (or more) each decade thereafter
•Massive species loss on land and sea — perhaps 50% or more of all biodiversity.
•Unexpected impacts — the fearsome “unknown unknowns”
•Much more extreme weather
•Food insecurity — the increasing difficulty of feeding 7 billion, then 8 billion, and then 9 billion people in a world with an ever-worsening climate.
•Myriad direct health impacts
Luckily, I am 64, so am unlikely to live long enough to enjoy his predictions.

Rud Istvan

There are bigger issues, and at a macro (food, fuel) not micro (malaria) level. The arguments are laid out in an easily comprehended, viscerally factual manner in the recent ebook Gaia’s Limits. Places potential climate change into a broader global context.


Otter says:
October 18, 2012 at 2:03 am
“deviant art”
– – – –
The relationship between art and science is an intriguing one. My opinion is that science is a form of art, say an art of the mind, as science cannot do without the mental constructs they call theories and hypothesis which need the creative mind to develop.
The problem here is that “global warming” both with the general public and many artists (most?) is not considered to be a scientific topic, it is mainly a political topic.
As even “among scientists” themselves already it is pretty difficult to have a decent and open-minded discussion about so called “climate change”, you would not expect an art-site to be a fruitful forum for this topic. Also, art usually is presented “as is”, without open minded discussion.
So I would advice to present it not as science, not as political opinion, but as a piece of art, “as is”. This needs some bending of the mental muscles, but in my opinion it is the right kind of exercise 🙂

Spanish flu is a misnomer- the pandemic originated in France in WW1 due to the atrocious conditions livestock were kept in in the war zone, with different species living in cramped and unhygienic conditions. It decimated the German army in particular. Once again, the pandemic and it’s death toll was an indirect result of governmental malfeasance, a war that didn’t need to occur had he will been there to avoid it. Most of the world’s hunger also requires at the minimum governmental indifference, at worst deliberate government policy. Patrick is right- this side of an Ice Age, which as Andrew states correctly is a game changer of a whole different kind, mankind’s single greatest danger is mankind itself.

D. Patterson

JennyR says:
October 18, 2012 at 2:10 am
I think climate change is the number threat to humanity in the 21st century, since it affects many other sectors as well. Humanity is dependent on climate, therefore everything then ties in together, like the inequalities between different countries and within countries. This also links to povery, crime rate, the economy and more

Climate Alarmists are among the greatest threats to Humanity. Your own ignorance of climate and the destructiveness ofmindless utopion or distopian activism is one such example of how the threat is supported by negligence of reality.


Your post at October 18, 2012 at 2:40 am makes many statements and almost all are debatable.
I suspect the depth of your knowledge is revealed by your saying this.

A better phrase would be: ‘Those who support the theory that anthropomorphic global warming trends sit on top of trends in natural variations in climate.’

Mickey Mouse is anthropormophic.
The AGW hypothesis is about anthropogenic global warming.

Adrian Kerton says:
October 18, 2012 at 2:21 am
Global warming will increase the frequency of such global pandemics, there is a link between the two. That is why AGW is far more threatning.
[you make two absolute assertions but provide no evidence or mechanism . . this could be misconstrued as trolling which I am sure isn’t your intention so perhaps you could be more careful with your comments, thanks . . mod]