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Truth is the First Casualty of Global Warming

The truth about climate change is nuanced: it is real, and in the long term it will be a problem, but its impact is less than we might believe. And yet we are too eager to believe the problem is far worse than science shows, and – conversely – that our solutions are far easier than reality dictates.

BRUSSELS – The latest global climate summit in Poland has generated familiar predictions of doom and disaster from environmental activists. Climate change seems to freeze our capacity for critical thinking: we are too eager to believe the problem is far worse than science shows, and – conversely – that our solutions are far easier than reality dictates.

Consider weather events: it is second nature now to link these to climate change. Whenever a flood hits, the media blames global warming and warns that floods are increasing. But the most authoritative conclusion by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is that it is not even clear whether floods have increased or decreased globally over the past century.

Both European forest fires and US hurricanes are blamed on global warming. But, despite getting more news attention than normal, forest fires in Europe 2018 have affected less than half the average area burned; in Europe’s southern countries, which contain 90% of the affected forest, the burned area has halved over 35 years. On hurricanes, IPCC scientists say there have been “no significant observed trends” globally over the past century. The frequency of all US land-falling hurricanes has actually been declining since 1900, as has that of major US hurricanes.

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