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Royal Society Climate Threats Create Needless Stress

Royal Society Climate Threats Create Needless Stress

“There’s not one chance in a million that the future will unfold in the manner predicted by the NZ Royal Society’s report “Human Health Impacts of Climate Change in New Zealand”, said the chairman of the NZ Climate Science Coalition, Hon Barry Brill. “A gypsy fortune teller’s crystal ball would provide a more reliable resource for New Zealand policymakers.”

The foundation for the entire report is set out in the second paragraph: “Our climate is changing … we can anticipate air temperatures to rise by another 2.5°C to 5°C by the end of the century.”

These forecasts are wild and irresponsible exaggerations, that contradict the consensus predictions reported by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These official figures were not alarming enough for the Royal Society, so they have simply cranked them up.

Projected change in global mean surface
air temperatures relative to 1986-2005

Expected Pathway Mean Increase to 2065 Mean increase to 2100
2.6 1.0° 1.0°
4.5 1.4° 1.8°
6.0 1.3° 2.2°
8.5 2.0° 3.7°

All but one of the IPCC’s projections are less than half of the Society’s fevered imaginings. RCP8.5 provides for outer extremes but, in practice, nobody believes it could ever happen. Its scenario requires a world where the population exceeds 15 billion, all countries (e.g. Bangladesh, Somalia) become as wealthy as USA, technology is frozen for 100 years, and the world turns back to coal for its main energy supply.

Even the far-out 3.7°C projected for RCP8.5 has to be upped by 35% to satisfy the “Health Report”.

Then there’s the crass assumption that New Zealanders are already suffering health effects from recent increases in average temperatures. This is just not true. Actual data from NIWA’s 7SS (which is used to calculate NZ averages) show there has been no warming trend at all in the past 19 years. There may be controversy as to whether global warming has “paused” since the El Nino of 1998, but New Zealand has certainly benefitted from its home-grown “hiatus” during the last 19 years.

(See graph of NZ7SS Temperatures 1998-2016 at )
Not satisfied with doubling the temperature forecasts, the Society then applies a relentlessly negative lens to the expected effect. It ignores the scientific literature concluding that global warming will do more good than harm until average temperatures rise by at least 2°C. It ignores the fact that the increase of plant-fertilising atmospheric CO2 from 0.03% to 0.04% has already driven a 14% increase in agricultural output.

The report does recognise that “climate change has already led to changes in the length of the growing season” but says “studies also find that increases in CO2 levels result in greater pollen production”. They dwell on the potential increase in allergies but completely overlook the growth in the food supply! But when they do deal with food, they assume a catastrophic reduction in world vegetable and fruit production, which they prophesy will result in 500,000 extra deaths by 2050!
A similar dystopian view is taken of weather. Although noting that New Zealand winters see around 1600 more deaths than occur in the summer, they are more concerned about 14 heat-related deaths per annum when temperatures exceed 20°C.
The real (but unconscious) irony in all this is that much more harm is done by climate alarmism than by climate changes. The report notes (at p9):
“Routine exposure to images, headlines, and risk messages about the threat of current and projected climate change provide a powerful and on-going stress-inducing aspect of an individual’s everyday environment. Between 2005 and 2016 there were on average 422 articles published per month mentioning global warming or climate change in print or online media in the New Zealand region, according to the global media database Factiva (vii). In the US, psychological responses to such stress have been show to include heightened risk perceptions, general anxiety, pessimism, helplessness, eroded sense of self and collective control, stress, distress, sadness, loss, and guilt.”

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