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Happy New Year! Start 2021 with renewed hope thanks to good climate-news stories

Global Warming Policy Forum

A list of positive climate stories from the last 12 months

At the end of the year, in an annual ritual of apocalyptic doom-mongering, climate campaigners howl that the last 12 months saw unprecedented extreme weather events — from heat waves and wildfires to floods and hurricanes — claiming these natural disasters are proof that climate disasters are getting worse.

Of course natural disasters have been happening for millions of years and continue to hit one part of the globe or another almost on a daily basis. What is really noteworthy, however, is that the number of people killed by climate-related disasters has been declining dramatically for the last 100 years – and by 15% in the last 20 years alone.

No wonder that weather disasters this year have already faded into memory as the Covid-19 pandemic has been dominating the news.

Here, we take a look at 12 encouraging climate news stories which our GWPF team covered during 2020.

January: Global deaths from natural disasters drop to record low

Globally, in 2019, about 9,000 people lost their lives in natural catastrophes compared with 15,000 in 2018. This confirms the overall trend towards lower numbers of victims thanks to better prevention measures.

February: Staying power of Kilimanjaro snow defies Al Gore’s gloomy forecast

Kilimanjaro has a habit of defying predictions. Some climate scientists had forecast that all of its ice fields and glaciers would have completely melted by now. Yet data suggests a number are stubbornly clinging on, albeit shrunken.

March: Sea level rise was a constant phenomenon even before industrialisation, new study finds

A study by the University of York found evidence for a period of enhanced pre-industrial sea-level rise of about 2-3 millimetres per year in three locations — Nova Scotia, Maine and Connecticut, which were largely natural, without any human constructions or man-made factors.

April: Earth Day at 50: None of its eco-doomsday predictions have come true

From predicting ecological collapse and the end of civilization to warnings that the world is running out of oil, all environmental doomsday predictions of the first Earth Day in 1970 have turned out to be flat out wrong.

May: Scientists discover that coral reefs can adapt to warming ocean temperatures

Some coral reefs are adapting to warming ocean temperatures by making their own sunscreen in the form of bright neon colors — a strategy which invites coral animals to return to reefs and is seen as a critical adaptation to maintain healthy coral reefs around the world.

June: Instead of extinction, Antarctic penguins could experience ‘population boom’ due to global warming

Antarctic penguins could experience a ‘population boom’ due to global warming as melting sea ice means they have to spend less time foraging for food.

July: Siberian heatwaves are fairly common: Hottest summer on record was in 1917

There was nothing remotely exceptional about the heatwave at Verhojansk, with the hottest summer on record way back in 1917. 

August: No trend in hurricane activity in 167 years, new empirical study shows

Hurricane and major hurricane landfall counts exhibited no significant overall trend over 167 years of available data.

September: Not scared: Research reveals “climate-complacency” across Europe

Most European citizens do not particularly care about climate change. That’s the striking finding from new research on the views of 70,000 randomly sampled European men and women. Only 5% described themselves as “extremely worried” about climate change. The climate and the environment ranked only fifth in people’s overall views about priorities.

October: UN disasters report reveals big decline in climate-related disasters since 2000

A new United Nations report on The Human Cost of Disasters has been described as “an embarrassment” and “a catalogue of errors” after it emerged its headline claim of a “staggering rise in climate-related disasters” was refuted by its own data. The UNDRR’s own data shows that climate-related disasters have actually been declining for 20 years.

November: New footage reveals Netflix faked walrus climate deaths

A GWPF video provides new evidence that the 2019 Netflix documentary film series, ‘Our Planet’, withheld facts behind the controversial walrus story it promoted as evidence of climate change.

December: Scientists discover Arctic warming of Greenland ice sheet driven by geothermal activity

A team of researchers understands more about the melting of the Greenland ice sheet. They discovered a flow of hot rocks, known as a mantle plume, rising from the core-mantle boundary beneath central Greenland that melts the ice from below.