No, AP, A 1.5°C Temperature Rise Won’t Cause “…Death, Destruction and Damage”

A May 17, 2023 story by The Associated Press (AP) climate reporter Seth Borenstein received wide pickup worldwide by multiple media outlets. Titled, “The likelihood that Earth briefly hits key warming threshold grows bigger and closer, UN forecasts,” the article claims that Earth will experience “…death, destruction and damage to global ecosystems” due to the coming El Niño event expected this summer. The claim is wrong because Earth has already experienced that level of warming in modern history, and global temperature data shows it occurring, with none of those deleterious effects evident.

The claim of impending doom is based on a single study, titled “Exceeding 1.5°C global warming could trigger multiple climate tipping points.”  AP and many other news outlets are treating the study’s speculative claims as proven, as they anticipate that the forecast El Niño induced warming will push Earth past that temperature value this year. Previously, Climate Realism covered the topic of hitting the 1.5°C temperature threshold in “Media Can’t Agree on the Number of Climate Tipping Points, Much less When.

The media claims there will be future disaster on a temperature rise of 1.5°C – the problem is, they don’t seem to realize that this threshold has already been passed.

Below in Figure 2 is the Berkeley Earth average surface temperature record for Europe since about 1780. Europe is a good location to analyze, because some of the longest continuous temperature records are from Europe. It shows that not just 1.5°C, but 2.0°C of warming has already occurred.

Figure 2. (click to enlarge) Berkeley Earth average European temperature showing a 2.0°C rise since about 1820. Source: Annotated by Anthony Watts

Yet even with 2°C of atmospheric warming since about 1820, the claimed catastrophic climate tipping points have not occurred.

Despite evidence to the contrary provided by real-world-data, climate alarmism over future tipping points seems to be a constant feature of the media, but they never happen – “its déjà vu all over again.”

Further, as explained in Climate at a Glance: El Niño and Global Warming, the warming from the El Niño event expected this summer in the Pacific Ocean are natural patterns that have been going on for millions of years, and have nothing to do with claims of carbon dioxide driven warming.

Leave it to Borenstein and the AP to raise alarm about expected disasters from a 1.5°C temperature rise while ignoring the fact this is a natural event that has been going on for millennia, and we’ve already exceeded a 1.5°C temperature rise and nothing bad has happened.

Perhaps, if Borenstein and his corporate media employers write on this topic again, they might provide some balance to their stories, explaining temperature history has shown that there is nothing to fear. However, that is not likely, because it has recently been revealed that AP has been the beneficiary of an $8 million grant, specifically designed to bolster writing alarming climate stories such as this one. The Washington Examiner reports:

In the year following a grant of more than $8 million to the Associated Press from key climate change advocates, the news service has poured out at least 64 stories warning of environmental calamity, according to a new media study.

With that sort of track record and big money driving the editorial decisions, truth seems to have taken a back seat to the “disasters for dollars” plan at the AP.

Anthony Watts
Anthony Watts
Anthony Watts is a senior fellow for environment and climate at The Heartland Institute. Watts has been in the weather business both in front of, and behind the camera as an on-air television meteorologist since 1978, and currently does daily radio forecasts. He has created weather graphics presentation systems for television, specialized weather instrumentation, as well as co-authored peer-reviewed papers on climate issues. He operates the most viewed website in the world on climate, the award-winning website

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