Overhyped: The Human Cost of Climate Alarmism

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.

andrew t guzmanFigure 1. Andrew T. Guzman, law professor and environmental activist.

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:

deaths from climate changeFigure 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.

To summarize:

• 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.

w.

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Reblogged this on This Got My Attention and commented:
Beware of urban legends.

M Simon

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
H. L. Mencken
Which is why prohibitions are so popular.
http://classicalvalues.com/2013/02/improving-on-prohibtion/

Leo Morgan

Willis, would you like to email Munich Re and ask for their source, and/or comment on your article?
I’m tempted to do it myself, but you ought to have first refusal.
Then you can add “To date Munich Re have declined to comment on the article.”
Alternatively, it might give further fun in tracking down the source- is it to cynical to assume they got it from WWF or similar?

markx

When I read of absolutely deliberate, concocted elaborate, lying constructs such as this originating from the likes of Munich Re, while not actually seeing a conspiracy, I sure as hell know that every money making scammer is trying their best to make the most our of the game.

markx

Typo?
“…Other than deaths attributable to moroons building on floodplains and barrier islands and the like…” = morons ?
Or deliberate? (not bad!)
Urban Dictionary: moroon
n., constructed using the words moron and baboon. Used mainly for brutish persons, boors who aren’t too clever either. moron baboon idiot tard retard stupid silly clumsy

The US federal government is quickly forcing itself into the insurance industry, so don’t think for a moment this is capitalism gone amok. It’s a government planned joining and corruption of capitalism. That’s different. Companies used to have some pride and decency, now they sign off with their overlords for guaranteed monopolies. This new aggressive government move is more in the style of Hitler’s than Stalin’s or Mao’s. It’s just a lot nicer, at least so far.
And most people think it’s just fine. They’re impressed by the promise of social engineering. A tiny bit of history would be in order here.
Yep, this moronic book will be applauded; it’s because of this kind of thinking we are in huge trouble; and the shakedown ain’t going to be a man-caused earthquake.
Keep lighting the candles, y’all.

“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.”
Wait… I’ve heard this one before.
“Nonstatistical estimate based on unHappy Thoughts.”
http://www.indiegogo.com/genderneutralkittenfund?a=775991

Gene Selkov

I confirm Munich Re doing this for decades. The first ever time I read about this (then) new line of business was in one of the issues of the Unscientific Unamerican in the early 1980s. The Unscientific then summarily alluded to “some German underwriters” refusing to insure fossil-burning businesses against weather-related events on the grounds that such events were self-inflicted rather than accidental.

John F. Hultquist

So, they are off by 300,000 (or 315,000 according to the red bar). What’s a tiny 3 and a few zeros among friends. Of course, not being a friend of big insurance, the UN, the IPCC, and nonsense – you had to check it out.
Well done!

Al Gore

Well the RE Munich creative claim is more UNEP/UNFCCC conform than the scientific facts?

Paul Schnurr

“…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.”
This statement has no meaning because “seriously affected” is not defined.
“Deaths” could be a very small number and the remaining increase of those “seriously affected” could mean anxiety attacks as far as one can tell.

“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.”

Breaking News: the 10 warmest hours in the past day have occurred since sunrise.
It’s as simple as that really. These AGW hoaxsters are all either evil or ignorant, crooks or kooks. Which category any particular one of them fall into is the only real question.

RE: Leo Morgan says:
February 16, 2013 at 9:25 pm
If you ask, Munich Re will cite Andrew T. Guzman as their sourse. Full cycle!

Human population is between 4 and 5.5 billion. The higher population statistic is from the UN, the last time I had this argument, figures from Wikipedia got changed (higher). When you produce so-called facts make sure you can back them up. Or do what Willis is doing, explore them.
Where is the existent?
There is no argument, Human population is extremely low in fact; it statistically shouldn’t exist, the big picture and what it’s all about is; we need a large human population to naturally survive. We have a whole universe to explore.
This is what we have.
Statistics aggravated by politics, and advice from civil servants.

The report wasn’t written by The Global Humanitarian Foundation. It was written for them, by a New York PR firm called Dalberg Associates. Check out some of the references. One of the claims was based on an article in the British Independent newspaper, which itself quoted a risk management company, which was quoted as saying they knew nothing about climate change.
The GHF was wound up a couple of years ago. They produced this report, a news item about activists in Africa with pictures of teenagers in green shirts (the Greenshirts – original, eh?) and then died of ridicule.

markpro3ger

2 typos:
You accidentally said “300 million” rather than “300 thousand”
[fixed, thanks]
You said “moroons” instead of “morons.”
[deliberate. -w.]
Great article as is always the case from you!

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.
The scam is they can jack up rates, because current and future climate risks are rising.
The source is probably a number an actuary plugged into a spreadsheet modelling insurance profitability.
The sources I have seen all show steadily declining weather related risks and mortality all across the world. In the insurance world, in which I worked briefly, declining risks = declining rates = declining profitability.

Sorry our elitist rulers civil servants.

James Allison

TWDR?
I did try looking it up. Terminal Weather Doppler Radar, Trade Winds Double Rocker, The Watch Dawg Report…..

Don’t know how they figured out it is (still) getting warmer,
when over the last ! 12 years (which includes one full solar cycle)
most data sets, including my own, shows it has been cooling.
http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:2002/to:2014/plot/hadcrut4gl/from:2002/to:2014/trend/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2002/to:2014/plot/hadcrut3vgl/from:2002/to:2014/trend/plot/rss/from:2002/to:2014/plot/rss/from:2002/to:2014/trend/plot/gistemp/from:2002/to:2014/plot/gistemp/from:2002/to:2014/trend/plot/hadsst2gl/from:2002/to:2014/plot/hadsst2gl/from:2002/to:2014/trend
My data sets suggest this cooling will last until ca.2038
http://blogs.24.com/henryp/2012/10/02/best-sine-wave-fit-for-the-drop-in-global-maximum-temperatures/
God is great. He will not allow this world to overheat. Have a nice cooling off period!!

Mike McMillan

Good sleuthing.

Willis Eschenbach

markx says:
February 16, 2013 at 9:31 pm

Typo?
“…Other than deaths attributable to moroons building on floodplains and barrier islands and the like…” = morons ?
Or deliberate? (not bad!)
Urban Dictionary: moroon
n., constructed using the words moron and baboon. Used mainly for brutish persons, boors who aren’t too clever either. moron baboon idiot tard retard stupid silly clumsy

Definitely deliberate. I had “idiots” in there first, then changed it (over the objections of my spell-check) to moroons, made up on the spot. I was unaware of the urban dictionary definition. Given that the territory I thought was virgin is already staked out, as you indicate above, I think I’ll use “a bunch of maroons” in future instead, I like that better.
w.

Willis Eschenbach

James Allison says:
February 16, 2013 at 11:13 pm

TWDR?
I did try looking it up. Terminal Weather Doppler Radar, Trade Winds Double Rocker, The Watch Dawg Report…..

Examination of the text reveals (emphasis new):

I’ll pass on linking to the book, TWDR, too wrong, don’t read.

And don’t worry, I’ve been that blind many times myself …
w.

James Allison

Bang head on table…..

Lew Skannen

I love taking independent unbiased advice from reputable sources like Munich Re who obviously have nothing to gain by ramping up fear for events which they do not believe will ever happen.
I also asked my local aardvark salesman whether he thought that his animals would be a good investment. He said he thoroughly recommended them and would be able to find some to sell to me. I am so glad I asked, otherwise I would never have known!

viejecita

Dear Mr Willis Eschenbach
I loved this piece, and am going to send it to all friends I can think about.
And this is NOT a tale about your adventures, your gorgeous ex-fiancée, or anything like it.
You are just Great at writing about the truth. All kinds of truth.
Now, let us wait for what the “purists” have to say.
As for myself, I just say
¡¡¡ Bravo de Nuevo !!!

maroon is staked out as well. When I read moroon, I thought you were alluding to bugs bunny usage of the term maroon. Dont ask me why I remember bugs as the source of this

Willis Eschenbach

viejecita says:
February 16, 2013 at 11:42 pm

Dear Mr Willis Eschenbach
I loved this piece, and am going to send it to all friends I can think about.

Ay, mi jovencita, siempre me das honor …
Salud y pesetas, my dear, y lo usual demás …
w.

thojak

Well done Willis, thanks!
Also please be reminded, that Munich Re is one of the major contributor (money) to the PIK (Potsdamer Institut f. Klimaforschung) where the ueberalarmist of all times, Prof. Schellenhuber, is the big boss. The prof is also the man behind the ‘max 2 C’-dogma-BS…
Go figure!
Brgds from Sweden/TJ

Willis Eschenbach

Steven Mosher says:
February 16, 2013 at 11:53 pm

maroon is staked out as well. When I read moroon, I thought you were alluding to bugs bunny usage of the term maroon. Dont ask me why I remember bugs as the source of this

That’s great, Steven, thanks. I love it, I am sooo stealing it.
w.

To quote bugs bunny “What a maroon, what an “ignoramus” or ‘ig-nor-ra-ma-gus’ for comic effect.

Robert A. Taylor

Pedantic quibble:
“Urban legend” should be urban myth. The exploits of Sergeant York http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_C._York are legendary. The exploits of Hercules are mythical.

Hari Seldon

No I believe every word of it., and if anything its a major underestimate. Global warming has caused more deaths than anything we have seen on the planet so far. Think of all the children dying because they don’t have electricity for water pumps or desalination systems. Think of the use of food for cars. Think of the forests denuded of wood so people can cook food. Think of the increase in world population because people are kept in the ‘dark ages’
The lack of electricity and the introduction of biofuels has killed billions, and has caused more political instability than anything else I can think of.
Global Warming is indeed the scourge of mankind.

Cough, Yosemite Sam! Sounds like an infestation going on here.

thojak says:
“Go figure!”
The whole CAGW swindle is one big incestuous scam.

Peter Miller

In the same vein, “but 97% of ‘climate scientists’ believe…………………………”

Joseph Adam-Smith

So Orwellian – the way to control people is to put them in a permanent state of fear. And the peoples fall for it, hook, line and sinker

Keitho

Read Michael Crichton’s “State of Fear” it is a real eye opener.

Me

Mosher played that bugs bunny usage of the term maroon well. Just saying.

Brent Walker

Munich Re also provided people to the IPCC to help with the statistics and modelling.

Sean

When I read your title, the human cost of climate alarmism, I was not expecting an article tracking down an “urban legend” number. Rather, I was expecting an article that looked at the human toll of climate alarmism policies. The most prominent one that came to mind was the famine in the horn of Africa in 2008. Relief organizations had barely enough resources to supply a subsistence level of food when the US switch to biofuel ethanol from MTBE caused a doubling in the price of grains. Newspaper articles expected more than 100,000 to starve at the ime. Then there is the Arab Spring, it supposedly was sparked by very high wheat prices a couple years back that had again was influenced by high biofuel demand for grains. Finally, some parts of Europe had had a couple of very harsh winters which have come at a time when “green” energy policies were pushing fuel and electricity prices higher. How many have died because they did not afford adequate heat or nourishment? I suspect the human toll of “green” policies worldwide, particularly amount the world’s most impoverished, would dwarf Kofi Annan’s 300K figure.

MangoChutney
MangoChutney
MangoChutney

the more you look at Munich Re and the 300K figure, the more you realise it’s the same figure that crops up again and again – deaths from obesity in america, famine in ethiopia, general disasters per annum, etc etc etc

David Chappell

The South China Morning Post (my local paper) is firmly in the alarmist camp and frequently prints the most arrant nonsense of the subject of climate change. In taking the alarmist view, the SCMP is regrettably not alone in Hong Kong from the administration (that likes to call itself a government) downwards. I despair that there seem to be so few people with any critical facility here. I tried to add a link to this piece in the comments to the “review” to add some balance but, alas, comments are closed!

Robert A. Taylor

At Steven Mosher says:
February 16, 2013 at 11:53 pm
Bugs Bunny’s use of “maroon”. Is that the origin of R. K. Maroon and Maroon Cartoons in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”?

Willis Eschenbach

Robert A. Taylor says:
February 17, 2013 at 12:28 am

Pedantic quibble:
“Urban legend” should be urban myth. The exploits of Sergeant York http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_C._York are legendary. The exploits of Hercules are mythical.

Dang, you pedantical guys really do like to swim upriver, don’t you?
Words get used the way they get used, regardless of the dictionary meaning. In addition, when used in conjunction with other words as in “urban legend”, or “space opera” for a cheap science fiction movie, they often are being used in a looser, more metaphorical sense. No one expects the fat lady to sing in a space opera, yet we know what that means.
Finally, “urban legend” approaches being what is called a “term of art”, a word which has a specialized meaning within a particular discipline. These are never required to have any connection with their normal meaning. For instance, in accounting, “credit” and “debit” are terms of art that are used in a different sense than their everyday meaning.
So “urban legend” is both immutable and unchangeable common usage, and perfectly proper usage at that.
More poetry, less pedantry, that’s my motto …
w.

Willis Eschenbach

Me says:
February 17, 2013 at 1:39 am

Mosher played that bugs bunny usage of the term maroon well. Just saying.

It was a freakin’ stunning work of conceptual art, I laughed my AO.
w.

A bit of history of insurance involvement: in his much overlooked account of the early days of treaty talks and IPCC, jeremy leggett of Greenpeace describes how he worked very hard to get the insurance industry involved. He spent much energy lobbying them in the early 1990s. He could not understand their reluctance! It was (i think) at CoP1 in Berlin that he finally managed to get them to make a joint statement…but then they did not stay for the conference! They soon came ’round. More in ‘carbon wars’ by J Leggett.

A bit of history of insurance industry involvement: in his much overlooked account of the early days of treaty talks and IPCC, jeremy leggett of Greenpeace describes how he worked very hard to get the insurance industry involved. He spent much energy lobbying them in the early 1990s. He could not understand their reluctance! It was (i think) at CoP1 in Berlin that he finally managed to get them to make a joint statement…but then they did not stay for the conference! They soon came ’round. More in ‘carbon wars’ by J Leggett.

What Munich Re and subsequent sources don’t mention is how much less deaths there are from global warming/change/catastrophes…
Each extreme hot weather event causes some more mortality. So does each extreme cold snap. But there are differences: a cold event causes about 10 times more premature deseased than a hot snap.
Not only that, a hot period is followed by a period with less than usual mortality, probably caused by humans which should have been death a few weeks later anyway. A cold period is not followed by a calmer period.
As increasing temperatures statistically should give less cold snaps and more hot periods, the average mortality only gets better…
See: http://www.bmj.com/content/321/7262/670