Inverse Hockey-Stick: climate related death risk for an individuals down 99% since 1920

Bjørn Lomborg writes on Facebook about some new and surprising data that turn climate alarmist claims upside down.

Fewer and fewer people die from climate-related natural disasters.

This is clearly opposite of what you normally hear, but that is because we’re often just being told of one disaster after another – telling us how *many* events are happening. The number of reported events is increasing, but that is mainly due to better reporting, lower thresholds and better accessibility (the CNN effect). For instance, for Denmark, the database only shows events starting from 1976.

Instead, look at the number of dead per year, which is much harder to fudge. Given that these numbers fluctuate enormously from year to year (especially in the past, with huge droughts and floods in China), they are here presented as averages of each decade (1920-29, 1930-39 etc, with last decade as 2010-18). The data is from the most respected global database, the International Disaster Database. There is some uncertainty about complete reporting from early decades, which is why this graph starts in 1920, and if anything this uncertainty means the graph *underestimates* the reduction in deaths. 

Notice, this does *not* mean that there is no global warming or that possibly a climate signal could eventually lead to further deaths. Instead, it shows that our increased wealth and adaptive capacity has vastly outdone any negative impact from climate when it comes to human climate vulnerability.

Notice that the reduction in absolute deaths has happened while the global population has increased four-fold. The individual risk of dying from climate-related disasters has declined by 98.9%. Last year, fewer people died in climate disasters than at any point in the last three decades (1986 was a similarly fortunate year).

Somewhat surprisingly, while climate-related deaths have been declining strongly for 70 years, non-climate deaths have not seen a similar decline, and should probably get more of our attention.

If we look at the death risk for an individual, seen below, the risk reduction is even bigger – dropped almost 99% since the 1920s.

Data Source: The International Disaster Database,

87 thoughts on “Inverse Hockey-Stick: climate related death risk for an individuals down 99% since 1920

  1. Some hoe Alarmist will find fault with the data or call us names. I’ll bet they call us names.

    • There is a ‘fault’ in the first graph as the world population has quadrupoled since 1920 and the more distant past decades were far worse than suggesed, however Lomborg did correct the ‘error’ in the second graph by quoting n/million.

      • there is also a fault in claiming this is ten year averages. If that was the case there would be 10 points not a smooth line. The key point is pretty strong , though.

      • He should correct the error of calling these events “climate catastrophes”. They are weather events, plain and simple.

        • It’s a catastrophe if it’s happening to you.

          It’s a weather event if it’s happening to someone else.

          • Yeah but it’s weather either way. Any single event is weather. The compiled trend is climate. But it begs a good point: is ANY of it ‘climate’? If you consider each days weather to be one data point, how many data points do you need for each day before you can start talking about ‘climate’? 10? 50? 100? 100,000? The world is billions of years old after all. I’m terms of simple mathematical significance our puny datasets aren’t even close. I’ve always believed the data we have is still orders of magnitude removed from any mathematical significance as it pertains to climate. But I’m sure some academic has some statistical algorithm that ‘corrects’ for that too.
            I love coming to this site because most here are on that same wavelength. But I also fear this site gives far too much credibility to a theory that is completely void of any merit no matter what angle you approach it from. AGW, more than being a stupid theory, ruins science for everyone. It ruins theories by calling itself one. It ruins the standard of evidence, it ruins thermodynamics and it ruins mathematical significance. And they’re never even talking about anything you could legitimately call ‘climate’. Just weather. Which it turns out is the more dangerous thing anyway!

        • Jeff Alberts, what is a climate catastrophe then? Not making too much of the fact that he said ‘climate related’….

    • They’ll probably ignore this if they can. No possible interpretation of the numbers works for ‘the narrative’. I can think of two possible interpretations:
      1 – Warmer temperatures create fewer climate casualties.
      2 – Increased prosperity due to fossil fuels makes people much more resilient to disasters.

      I favor #2. The left seems to get the relationship backward. They seem to think resilience is required for prosperity. link

      • I agree (mostly) but then I am just a Simple Redneck. However, as I understand the “theory of CAGW” the warming is supposed to be in the Northern Latitudes. That would imply a lower D-T to drive the chaotic heat machine we call weather which means less severe storms. The British navy ruled the worlds oceans for some 200 years and every day each ship made weather observations. I have read, and it may be true, that their records indicate that the storms were more severe during the time that the climate was cold.

        So, I agree with your point #2 but also #1 to a lesser extent.

        I stand in awe of the scintillating brilliance of the contributors and commenters here, well most of them. I would welcome correction. (And no, this is most definitely not sarcasm.)

        Please play nice with the trolls, as best you can. They can’t help it and it’s like kicking a cripple. Besides, according to this man we can expect that if the “Democratic Socialist Revolution” is successful, then Bernie, Hillary, Bubba, and AOC will be “lined up against a wall and shot”. (All video)

        And, if you think that is too “out there” here is another historical example. (No video or pictures.)

  2. You mean we’re adapting?

    But … I thought we’re all supposed to be dead of climate change within a coupla years, because, as everybody should know, the climate has never changed before and it’s always been this way and the climate today is absolutely perfect for everybody and everything and any climate change at all will just ruin our party here on earth.

        • 1) Evidence that something can be done better with more people is not evidence that more people have to be from the government.
          2) Evidence that one thing can be done more easily with government is not evidence that everything needs to be done by government?

          Care to embarrass yourself again?

          • 1) But it is only by the Government. There is no-one else doing it. There is no return in doing it. The payoff, such as it is, is long-term economic growth.
            See the example of Galveston in the adjacent post. It lasted for a century! Any plan that lasts that long needs low interest rates. As Government has the lowest interest rates (being the biggest and most secure) large infrastructure projects ought to be done by the Government.
            There is a reason why it is always the Government that makes long-term infrastructure investment. It’s not politics – every nation is the same.
            It’s economics.

            2) Not everything needs to be done by the Goverenment. But some things do.

        • Because the government has over-saturated the market. Not just saturated, but over-saturated. And the government is an unfair competitor. I’ll begin my tale with a case I a little more about: roads. With the invention of the automobile, roads needed to change and improve; a road perfectly adequate for a wagon or buggy drawn by either horses or oxen was hardly adequate for an automobile, particularly the early under-powered narrow-tired variety. And so private enterprise stepped up and built roads, some 1,200 of them. And because they were built by private developers backed by private investors, they had to not only make a profit, but provide a return to investors, so the road went where the customers – i.e., the people – wanted to go; to the businesses and most populace residential areas! Then, government jumped into the market, and almost immediately put all private road-builders/developers out of business. What’s more, where does a government-built road go? Where the government says it should go, usually around the central business district, i.e., not where people wanted to go. But does the government care? Doesn’t matter to them, they’re spending OPM, they don’t need to make a profit, they don’t need to compete for, or even necessarily attract customers. So the government blithely builds bridges-to-nowhere, and pieces of road with a dirt track at each end to get on and off (which usually turns into an illicit drag-strip), and etc. And central business districts falter, and a few must close their doors, and a few others find another site out by the “by-pass”, because that’s where government directed all the traffic, and the downtown/central business district withers, and dies, and turns into seedy neighborhood, and then an eyesore, and then a blight.

          Flood control has been just about as successful. Galveston was essentially wiped off the face of the map, primarily by storm surge, in 1900. The city, county and state immediately set about “correcting” the problem by building a seawall and raising the entire island by 9-12 feet (the present ground floor of the Bishop’s Palace used to be the 2nd floor, and the building has an unintended basement). But during Hurricane Ike, in 2008 – 108 years later – I kept a close eye on every web-cam I could find. A traffic camera at I-45 & 61st Street I watched as water appeared under the overpass, then it cut out. Gradually, one by one, the cameras cut out, because they flooded. Not the camera itself, but the communications box down on the ground, when that got wet they stopped working. Finally, I found a collection of still photographs, posted I-know-not-how during the height of the storm. I found one looking out onto the residential end of the Strand, I forget the exact street, maybe Avenue H. There was water in the street. I clicked through a few more pics, then I was looking at the same scene from the same camera about 45 minutes later (I checked the timestamps), but now the multi-story residence across the street was on fire, and no fire-trucks in sight because of the water in the street, and it was too deep for a firetruck to get through. Once again, storm surge had inundated the island. How could that be? Wasn’t there a sea wall? There was, but it was along the most expensive real-estate looking out over the Gulf, and after the expensive real estate the seawall stopped, and the water just went around it. Once again, government directed the disbursement of funds, not the markets, and not reality. Once again, government screwed it up.

    • Sadly, Gov. Jerry Brown did NOT adapt here in CA. Jerry said the forests should be left untouched, in their natural state. As a result each wildfire in CA is killing more and more people. Jerry is doing his best to reverse the trend of human adaptation. Because Jerry, and all the so-called eco acolytes surrounding him (and left behind for Gavin Newsom to empower) KNOW better than you. Know better than your own instinct for survival. YOU will OBEY the eco CULT. OBEY!!

      • They probably should be left in their natural state. “Managing” is a fool’s errand, IMHO. When they burn, regardless of the source of ignition, they should be left to burn. If you want a house in the woods, you take your chances. And by letting the forests burn naturally, you typically don’t have these big firestorms that we sometimes see.

        • Jeff….
          Managing, means LIGHTING fires when conditions are benign , so that you don’t get fires with high fuel loads under dangerous conditions.

          It’s the equivalent of vaccination against disease.

          The “just let them burn” argument ignores the fact that native peoples are a part of the ecosystem and that the “natural” fire regime includes human ignition for the management of fuels.

  3. The so-called CNN effect should be like the count for low strength tornadoes due to cell phones and doppler radar, that there is a major reporting artifact.

  4. I suggest Lomborg does some research into programmes to prevent loss of life in typhoons in e.g Bangladesh and the Philippines… in recent decades the loss of life in similar extreme storms has plummeted due to evacuation warnings, evacuation centres and similar measures funded by international agencies.

    • “Notice, this does *not* mean that there is no global warming or that possibly a climate signal could eventually lead to further deaths. Instead, it shows that our increased wealth and adaptive capacity has vastly outdone any negative impact from climate when it comes to human climate vulnerability.”

      Did you even bother reading this post ? D’OH !

      • But since “our increased wealth and adaptive capacity” depends critically upon having abundant, cheap, high-density energy, it could be said that exploiting fossil fuels is net beneficial even if it does cause global warming.

        • It could be said that it is bleeding obvious that exploiting fossil fuels is net beneficial even if it does cause global warming… 😉

    • Yes, we have improved our ability to prevent deaths cause by weather and climate events. That’s his entire point..

    • griff

      Yes, well done. Technology to the rescue.

      It’s called weather forecasting, not climate forecasting when local events are anticipated.

      And more events are being reported, that isn’t the same as more events happening.

      Go to the top of the class.

    • giffiepoo “January 27, 2019 at 6:29 am
      I suggest”

      Pure personal opinion utterly ignorant of reality.
      Typical alarmist emoting and waffle words as pretense of of logic.

      Making giffiepoo”s comment pure ad hominem solely meant to insult and diminish a person whose achievements are worlds away from giffiepoo’s lack of accomplishment.

    • Griff
      All of which exist because the economic power of capitalism and cheap energy.

      I thought you vowed to never come back to WUWT?

    • The two deadliest in Bangladesh were 1970 and 1991. 1970 was the impetus for many of these measures you speak of…you are going to credit that for the entire chart?

      The deadliest in the Phillipines was in 1881…next were in 2013, 1991, and 2012.

      Your denial of the chart results and point of them is only matched by your made-up reason to explain it.

    • “Funded by international agencies”. Using wealth taxed from or donated by people whose productivity is mostly due to the great availability and variety of energy.

  5. Just around the time that combustion engines became widely used.
    Before that, there were trains, telegraphs and radios. So there was timely information and some high-speed transportation (1000km/day). But only with trucks and cars can people get out of the way and supplies be brought in.

    • But soon we will have electric vehicles that will be unable to operate when the grid goes down and the alarmists will have the increased deaths they want.

  6. The graphs nicely show the improvement in our ability to deal with previously dangerous weather events. I would love to see the growth in oil fuelled personal transport, over those same periods. I would put money on there being an almost perfect correlation. The more access we have had to mechanised help via fossil fuels, the more people have survived previously killing weather conditions. I would also bet, the advancement of the national grids that brought power and warmth to previously poor deprived areas, also plays a major part in our current good fortune.
    Energy availability at the flick of a switch 24/7 saves lives. Intermittent uncertain energy availability not so good.

  7. I don’t see the difference in the charts. One is deaths per decade and one is death “risk” per year? Everyone is at risk to die at any moment… what am I missing?

    Oh–thanks for this–interesting.

    • The first graph does not take into account the increase in world population, the second does.

      Both graphs only show deaths due to disasters, most people die in less spectacular circumstances.

    • If you have ever seen an F5 tornado (I have only on TV) I doubt that the word “impotent” is really suitable. I believe that “weather”, indeed every process happening on the earth from volcanoes to glaciers, is a chaotic process with energy of a magnitude that we can’t really grasp. It is estimated that the energy released in a super storm is comparable to a nuclear bomb with a yield of 415 kT of TNT. The estimated energy released in an “average” thunderstorm is around 100 kT. One hurricane releases the energy of thousands of thunderstorms. On the other hand, the fission bomb that Democrat President Harry Truman ordered dropped on Hiroshima was a measly 15 Kiloton yield. The difference is that the energy in a thunder storm is released over hours while the energy of a nuclear bomb is released in less than a second.

      I do understand your sarcasm and I do agree with your point.

      (Well,I choose to believe it is sarcasm, With the current lunacy on the left, you can’t be sure without a /sarc tag.)

      My point is human impotence. To think we can somehow control “Gaia” is a vast, breathtaking, childish, arrogance. George Carlin had a comedy routine that described humans as being nothing but a surface nuisance like a bad case of the fleas. You deal with climate change like you would deal with a charging elephant: assess the potential for harm and GET OUT OF THE WAY.

      Warning: It is in the colorful patois of the counterculture.

  8. It will be interesting to see if there is a statistical uptick in ‘climate deaths’ in those developed world regions that have shown the most enthusiasm substituting fossil fuel reliability for environmental sustainability. Germany (cold) and South Australia (heat)… the new canaries in the coal mine perhaps.

  9. A Login ID is required to even visit the “International Disaster Database”.

    Not that this is a bad thing, but it does prevent easy perusal.

    What would be interesting is if these graphs split out the disasters into their own graph lines; e.g. storms, storm surges, heat waves, cold caused deaths, etc. etc.

    One also wonders if the database factually represents deaths caused by fuel shortages. Many countries obfuscate cold caused deaths as vulnerable elderly and sick people, instead of directly attributing the cause to a lack of heat.
    e.g. China’s winter of 2017-2018 versus China’s drive to fully expand fossil fueled energy supply in 2018-2019.

    Great analysis Bjorn!
    Thank you for a sample of reality!

    • “A Login ID is required to even visit the “International Disaster Database”.”

      Sounds like a PR disaster.

  10. Good news! We’re NOT ALL GONNA DIIIEEEE!!!

    You’d think that would make everyone happy, but the doomsayers take it as bad news. I think it’s because it cuts into the revenues of “Prophets of Doom Inc.” ( A wholly-owned subsidiary of Big Doom®). It always sucks when you’re facing the possibility of going out of business, so you do what you must to keep the business going.

  11. I wonder what the recent numbers would look like if so many people hadn’t died from the cold, when they couldn’t afford to heat their homes?

  12. Cut the data off at 1978. Adjust 1978 down to 1 and 2018 up 1o 100,000 then weight everything in between to the two end points. Now the data is climate science ready.

  13. It would be more accurate to refer to “Weather related deaths” rather than “Climate related”, even for Bjorn. But I suppose it makes a point about referring to weather events as “climate” as is unfortunately common in the media.

  14. “Notice, this does *not* mean that there is no global warming or that possibly a climate signal could eventually lead to further deaths.”

    While it is true that the data presented does not mean there is no climate signal, both theory and practice indicates that a reduced temperature differential reduces storms. Greenhouse gas theory indicates that minimum temperatures should rise more than maximum, i.e. temperature differential decrease and hence storms decrease.

  15. Too bad that “research” vessel stuck in the ice accepted rescue.

    [Of course I don’t mean that.].

  16. Unfortunately, the history is irrelevant: future deaths are said to be heat, drought and storm-related DESPITE advance warning we will have, mitigation or post-event care.

    Higher deaths before seatbelts were introduced has no bearing on reducing the speed limit on the Interstate highways.

    • Based on the last thirty years of nothing, those deaths will always be future deaths, existing only in the minds of extremists. And why would warming, should it ever occur, preclude our ability to get out a a storm’s way, or to deal with drought, something Man has always had to contend with?

      As far as heat related deaths, exposure to cold kills more than heat at the moment. So if the world warms up, fewer people dying from cold will offset any additional people dying from heat.

  17. When infant morbidity rates in third world shithole countries remain high because the World Bank refuses to fund Electric Generation Facilities to provide the most humble children on the planet with Clean Water, are those millions of deaths Climate related?

    • …mortality…, I think you meant, not …morbidity…

      2. the proportion of sickness or of a specific disease in a geographical locality.

      Well, maybe you did. Maybe both.

  18. Unfortunitly I will not be around to see the latest end of the World”, 102 years is stretching things a bit, but as usual the IPCC, that is if they are still there will come up with a good excuse.

    I thought that Climate was a 30 year thing, so lets stick to just calling it weather.


  19. It’s because God’s chosen climate- and geoengineers are doing their very best to save to climate 24/7 all over the world.

    Meanwhile nothing important happens, just a new ice age. Could last more than 400 years, as I said, nothing important.

    “Grand Solar Minimum News with Lee Wheelbarger interviewing Charles Scott” –

    “Professor Valentina Zharkova Confirms “Super” Grand Solar Minimum [Edited}” –

    “Ice Age Now” –
    “New Ice Age Ahead” –
    “Adapt 2030” –
    “Ice Age Farmer” –

  20. This chart may be even more important chart than it initially seems, by proving our ability to adapt. What this means is that you can accept as Gospel Truth everything the Church of Climate Scientology claims about the impending Climate Apocalypse and STILL not come away with any immediate calls for action.

    What is the evidence that spending resources on a series of half-measures and futile gestures to mitigate the global climate cycle is a better approach than adjusting to the climate as it comes? We have proof of our ability to adapt. And we have proof of our inability to mitigate.

  21. It should be mentioned that he started his graph when the biggest natural disaster of the century , with something around 1,000,000 deaths , the floods in China occured . Also , it seems odd that apparently the hundreds of thousands who died in the tsunami of 04 didn’t register in his graph either . Or am I missing something ?

    • Yes, the flood in China was a weather event. It is of interest to note that was before CAGW. A tsunami, though, is not a weather event.

      Other catastrophes of interest: The 8 million who starved to death during the Stalin’s “Holodomor” (1932-3) in the Ukraine was not a weather event The 40 million who starved during Mao’s Great Leap Forward (1958-62) was not a weather event. As evil as Hitler was, he was a third rate evil compared to Stalin and Mao.

      The point? Climate Catastrophes pale into insignificance when compared to Socialist Catastrophes. The Socialist body count for the last century is upwards of 200 million. (By the way, the acronym NA*I stands for National Socialist German Workers Party. Uncle Adolph was a Socialist.)

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