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The Truth Hurts For Climate Change Doom-Mongers

Ross Clark, The Times

Science has been twisted into a morality tale of greedy humans

The former BBC newsreader Martyn Lewis has spent 20 years campaigning for bulletins to carry more good news and less bad. Could we make him chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)?

His first job could be to flag up a University of Reading paper in the journal Nature Climate Change this week which finds that emissions of greenhouse gases have actually helped the Sahel region, south of the Sahara, to recover from drought.

This is not how things are supposed to be according to the popular narrative of man-made climactic apocalypse. Read only the IPCC’s reports and you would gain the impression that Africa was destined to become a vast dustbowl of dying animals and scorched plains beyond even the ability of Bob Geldof and Live Aid to save. “By 2020, in some [African] countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 per cent,” was a typical offering in its 2007 report.

Only when the Dutch government ordered a review of the IPCC’s output did it emerge that this remarkable claim had no scientific basis. It was just a twisted observation that during drought years crop yields in one country, Morocco, can fall by half. A further generalised claim that crop yields are falling in the Sahel was based on one crop in one small part of the region.

Climate change has evolved into a morality tale in which mankind must face his comeuppance for despoiling the planet. Any evidence that seems to support this synopsis is whipped up, while any evidence of positive effects of a changing climate is quietly put to one side.

“Heat-related deaths will rise by 257 per cent by 2050,” screamed the headlines when Public Health England last year tried to quantify the effects of future heatwaves. It seemed to get lost in the small print that there are at present 2,000 excess deaths a year from heat and 41,000 from cold — and that the latter will come down if the climate turns warmer.

There are bound to be positive as well as negative effects of climate change. It should be part of the IPCC’s work to assess whether research on the subject is biased, not to simply pick out the bleakest scenarios and exaggerate them.

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