Sorry, New York Times, Data Refutes the U.N.’s Warning That Insufficient Climate Action Is Leading to ‘Collective Suicide’

The New York Times (NYT) reported on a speech made by United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, in which he claimed that the world is committing suicide if there is no collective action on the alleged climate emergency. Data refutes Guterres fearmongering. Multiple metrics of human progress show that life has been improving amidst modest warming.

The NYT article, “U.N. chief warns that humanity faces ‘collective suicide’ over climate crisis,” describes the speech given by Guterres as a “dire warning” that he gave to U.N. representatives, “calling for more concrete action to tackle what he called a climate emergency.”

The NYT writes:

“We have a choice,” Mr. Guterres said in a video message. “Collective action or collective suicide. It is in our hands.”

Mr. Guterres did not directly address the heat wave punishing much of Europe, but his comments came as swaths of the continent faced dangerously high temperatures on Monday, spurring wildfires in some areas.

Guterres’ extreme statement was timed, as NYT reports, to coincide with recent heat waves in Europe. The paper fails to report on recent record cold happening elsewhere in the world, as reported by Climate Realism here.

Neither Europe’s ongoing heatwave, nor any other particular weather event can be honestly attributed to climate change. Also data from across a range of scientific disciplines show that living conditions for most people have dramatically improved even as the climate has warmed.

Regarding heat waves, as discussed by Climate Realism many times, here, here, and here, for example, real world data does not show heat waves are getting worse, or that they can be attributed to climate change.

Rather than climate actions causing a “collective suicide,” as Guterres warned, data from studies like this one from The Lancet, show that premature deaths due to non-optimal temperatures have declined substantially over the past century. As explained in Climate Realism, here, here, and here, for example, at least ten times more premature deaths are tied to cold temperatures than hot weather (See the figure below). As the Earth has warming, deaths tied to temperatures have fallen.

Figure 1. Global heat and cold related deaths graphed by region, from 2000-2019. Graph created by Willis Eschenbach from Monash study data.

In addition, data also reveal, human deaths caused by weather disasters are significantly fewer now than in the early 20th century, having declined by more than 99 percent, as shown in Figure 2 below.

Additionally, contrary to the oft repeated assertions of climate alarmists within and outside of the corporate media, crop production and yields have grown dramatically during the Earth’s present warming, with hunger, malnutrition, and starvation declining as a result. Data from the U.N.’s own Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), discussed in dozens of Climate Realism posts here, here, and here, for example, show essential cereal crops—and all kinds of other fruits, vegetables, and other foodstuffs—have repeatedly set new records for production and yield over the past 30 years. This is partially because of increased carbon dioxide fertilization, longer growing seasons due to modest warming, and fossil-fuel driven technological advancements in farming techniques.

Since 1990, the FAO reports major cereal crops globally have repeatedly set records, as displayed in graph generated below.

Barring unforeseeable catastrophes outside of climate change, it is unlikely that crop production and yield trends will suddenly reverse.

Before Secretary General Guterres pronounces dire warnings of climate doom, he should check the data, including data developed by the United Nations which he heads. Evidence indicates Guterres is more concerned with creating a panic, driving youths to protest, and motivating government action that gives his agency more control, than presenting the facts about the effects of climate change. Real climate scientists and journalists ought to call him out on this, and make it clear that data indicated the climate has never been less of a threat to human existence than it is now.

Linnea Lueken
Linnea Lueken
Linnea Lueken is a Research Fellow with the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy. While she was an intern with The Heartland Institute in 2018, she co-authored a Heartland Institute Policy Brief "Debunking Four Persistent Myths About Hydraulic Fracturing."

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