President Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accords has produced an all too predictable escalation in progressive hysteria, including portentous claims that it will exacerbate a global health crisis allegedly caused by climate change. The Los Angeles Times retails a list of these assertions under the headline, “Health experts are furious with Trump for pulling out of the Paris climate agreement.” But their indignant ululations are so overwrought and fact free that it is difficult to take them seriously. The high dudgeon of these “health experts,” in other words, amounts to little more than political theater.
And their acting is as bad as the “science” upon which they base their alarmist expostulations. The statement of Mary Pittman, president and CEO of the Public Health Institute, reads like a script from a low-budget 1950s science fiction film: “Climate change is perhaps the most important public health issue of our time. Aggressive, unilateral and mutual action is urgently needed to protect our people and our planet.” Likewise, Alden Meyer from the Union of Concerned Scientists and Dr. Georges Benjamin of the American Public Health Association stop just short of flapping their arms around and shouting “Danger, Will Robinson!”
In an effort to provide some “scientific” cover for these outraged experts, the author of the Times piece refers her readers to the climate and health assessment from the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). Sadly, the scientific credibility of USGCRP is somewhat less than stellar. It has, for example, consistently overstated the adverse health effects of extreme heat — a phenomenon that has itself been wildly exaggerated without ever being credibly connected to anthropomorphic climate change. As climatologists Patrick Michaels and Paul Knappenberger write in Lukewarming: The New Climate Science that Changes Everything:
The Human Health chapter [of the USGCRP assessment] is the worst single chapter we have ever read on climate change. It is littered with statements of ‘fact’ that are easily challenged by the simplest observations.
Michaels and Knappenberger go on to point out that, among its many other flaws, much of the reasoning in the USGCRP assessment is self-fulfilling and circular. For example, among the warming-induced health hazards that it cites is the “distress associated with environmental degradation” and the “despair that knowledge of climate change might elicit.”
You might add, “caused by scientists pushing insane hypotheses as facts.” How depressing! Some of the government’s pronouncements on global warming are able to render even lukewarmers speechless.
Michaels and Knappenberger also remind us that the ill effects of the USGCRP reports go far beyond providing cover for climate change alarmists, mendacious journalists, and lame duck Democrat presidents who want to impress their far left base by unilaterally committing the nation to essentially meaningless but incredibly expensive climate change agreements:
It is cited (directly or indirectly) as a primary source for the science of climate change and as justification for federal regulations aimed at mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. Because the USGCRP gets it wrong, so do policymakers.
Thus, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses inaccurate USGCRP data on extreme heat to formulate wrong-headed regulations and provide useless advice to the American public. This nonsense continues unabated despite independent scientific studies that show heat-related mortality going down due to adaptation, particularly among the elderly. A study conducted by Jennifer Bobb, Roger Peng, Michelle Bell, and Francesca Dominici of Harvard University’s School of Public Health shows the risk of dying from excessive heat has dramatically declined in the U.S. and Europe. Their research produced the following results:
This study provides strong evidence that acute (e.g., same-day) heat-related mortality risk has declined over time in the United States, even in more recent years. This evidence complements findings from U.S. studies using earlier data from the 1960s through the mid-1990s on community-specific mortality rates… as well as European studies that found temporal declines in heat-related mortality risk… and supports the hypothesis that the population is continually adapting to heat.
The EPA has not merely ignored these data, its ecocrats are still using taxpayer dollars to promulgate climate change myths debunked by the Bobb study and others corroborating its findings. As recently as October of 2016, the EPA teamed up with the Centers for Disease Control to publish a guidebook titled, “CLIMATE CHANGE and EXTREME HEAT: What You Can Do to Prepare.” This booklet advises the public that the number of deaths related to extreme heat is still rising and that the elderly are particularly vulnerable to this alleged threat. In other words, the EPA and the CDC are promoting anti-science propaganda.
This is the kind of behavior that forced Patrick Moore, former President of Greenpeace, to become a vocal critic of the faux science that now drives the Warmist movement. And it is why President Trump was right to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accords. The overwrought claims of “health experts” notwithstanding, there is no global health crisis that can be credibly tied to climate change, even if the planet is in the midst of one of its occasional warming phases. So, who should we trust on this? Posturing progressives or real scientists like Michaels, Knappenberger, Bobb, and Moore? I’m betting on the science nerds.