Last week with much fanfare, the IPCC released its Summary for Policy Makers on climate change impacts. The Panel’s chairman declared that this report was its most terrifying because human caused climate change was going to cause famine, disease, extreme weather, and war. These effects will occur because crop yields will be reduced as will available freshwater and the effects will cause mass migration of hundreds of millions of people.
This is scary stuff. Fortunately for mankind, the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM) contains a lot of fiction that bears little resemblance to the underlying report which is about 50 times longer. The fear mongers who control the IPCC process—the SPM is written by government appointee, not scientists—have become more shrill as the scientific basis for their forecasts of dread and doom becomes weaker. To discover this disconnect, someone would have to wade through a report that is more than 2000 pages in length.
Where last week’s report the large displacement of people, the basic report says that such predictions conflict with past experience in how people have responded to droughts and extreme weather events. And, there is nothing in the underlying report that supports the claim that current climate is leading to increased droughts and extreme weather. In fact, it says just the opposite.
A recent policy paper by the George C. Marshall Institute—The Climate of Insecurity—contains the following comments:
“Even when droughts occur, they don’t lead to war. One recent survey explored the linkages between water scarcity, drought, and incidence of civil wars. They found that factors other than the environment were much more significant in explaining the onset of conflict. They conclude:
“The results presented in this article demonstrate that there is no direct, short-? term relationship between drought and civil war onset, even within contexts presumed most conducive to violence … Ethnopolitical exclusion is strongly and robustly related to the local risk of civil war. These findings contrast with efforts to blame violent conflict and atrocities on exogenous non-?anthropogenic events, such as droughts or desertification. The primary causes of intrastate armed conflict and civil war are political, not environmental.”17
Furthermore, my detailed review of the empirical literature on the role of environmental degradation as a source of conflict shows:
“By themselves, environmental factors and climate change are not threat multipliers. The review of actual experiences with environmental stresses and calamities reveals that they contribute to conflict and state instability only at the margins. From tribesmen in Africa to nation states in both the developing and developed world, environmental and climatic variables fail to demonstrate explanatory power as a source or driver of conflict.”
With each new IPCC assessment report moderation begins to replace exaggeration. The effect of doubling CO2 on temperature has been reduced by at least 40% and is likely to go lower with the next report. This change reflects the fact that actual temperatures have not tracked, even closely, with the model projections that the IPCC has relied on. The fact that there has been a hiatus in warming over the past 17 years while CO2 emissions have continued to increase is empirical evidence of lower sensitivity. And has been pointed out, since the end of the little ice age, CO2 levels in the atmosphere have doubled and yet the temperature has only increased 0.8 degrees C.
The valid message to be extracted from last week’s report is the importance of adaptation. No matter what the cause of climate change, it always has and always will. Hotter or colder, we are better off with resilient economies that can adapt. Richer nations can; poorer one don’t. Promoting global economic prosperity is the best way to deal with an uncertain future.
This article appeared on the FuelFix weblog at http://fuelfix.com/blog/2014/04/07/the-bankrupt-intergovernmental-panel-on-climate-change-ipcc/