L.A. Times Should Publish Facts, Not Misinformed Opinions About Purported Climate Catastrophe

The Los Angeles Times (LAT) published an editorial, titled “On climate change, world leaders are saying one thing and doing another,” in which the author bemoans the fact that despite global leaders saying climate change poses an existential threat, the greatest threat to humanity, their actions to fight climate change are insufficient to prevent purported catastrophe. It is true that governments are talking the talk, but not walking the walk about the draconian policies they claim are necessary to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement. But it is false that climate change is worsening extreme weather or that if governments don’t enact sharp, rapid bans on fossil fuel development and use it will “throw humanity’s future into question,” as claimed in the editorial.

The LAT editorial board says:

World leaders will gather for the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai starting Thursday. And already, there are troubling signs that we’ll see another year of powerful countries spouting a lot of hot air but ultimately shirking their obligations to protect humanity from grievous and irreversible harm caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

A U.N.-backed report released earlier this month found that despite their promises, the world’s governments still plan to produce and consume more than twice as much coal, oil and gas in 2030 as they should to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, a gap that’s remained basically unchanged since 2019.

The LAT’s description of the state of climate negotiations and past COP meetings is accurate. A lot of hot air has been spouted and bold promises made that have not been matched by actions. Thankfully, however, what is claimed in the editorial, that “[t]he repercussions of countries not delivering on their pledges to cut heat-trapping emissions are life-or-death,” is patently false. Nor, as claimed in the editorial are, “[t]he consequences of inaction … already manifesting in the form of more ferocious heat waves, storms and wildfires, rising sea levels, drought, and damage to marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

Here are the facts. The 1.5℃ tipping point is a made-up number settled upon by politicians. As shown at Climate at a Glance: Tipping Point – 1.5 Degrees Celsius Warming and in numerous Climate Realism posts, here, here, and here, for example, there is no scientific evidence any specific rise in temperatures will produce increased incidences of extreme weather or cascading climate catastrophes.

Real world data refute the claim that heatwaves have become more severe or more frequent, as discussed at Climate at a Glance: U.S. Heatwaves, and at Climate Realism, here and here, for instance.

Evidence shows that neither storms nor wildfires have increased in number or intensity during recent decades of modest warming. Indeed, wildfires have actually declined both in the United States and globally.

Although ocean levels continue to rise as they do during interglacial periods and they have since the end of the last full ice age, data does not suggest they the are presently rising at a historically rapid rate. Recent claims that the rate of sea level rise has increased by an unusual amount in recent decades are based on a flawed reading of satellite data and bad math. The increase is not borne out by tide gauge data.

Nor is climate change resulting in islands sinking, coral reefs being destroyed, or ocean acidification killing sea life.

In short, none of the claims about damage from climate change asserted by the LAT’s editorial board as facts are true. To paraphrase the late Senator and Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan famous statement, although the LAT’s editorial board “is entitled to its own opinion about climate change, it is not entitled to its own facts.”

Contrary to the LAT’s claims, it is not that COP 28 will fail to make meaningful progress towards ending the use of fossil fuels that the world should fear, it is that it will succeed in securing enforceable carbon dioxide emission reductions. We should all be thankful that politicians are hypocrites when it comes to climate change. Had governments enacted the types of fossil fuel restraining policies sufficient to drastically cut carbon dioxide emissions to net zero on the timeline described in the Paris climate agreement, the world’s climate would not be made safer but millions more people than are already suffering under present policies would be suffering from poverty, hunger, and energy shortages. In the words of Alex Epstein:

Climate is no longer a major cause of deaths, thanks in large part to fossil fuels. … Not only are we ignoring the big picture by making the fight against climate danger the fixation of our culture, we are “fighting” climate change by opposing the weapon that has made it dozens of times less dangerous. The popular climate discussion has the issue backward. It looks at man as a destructive force for climate livability, one who makes the climate dangerous because we use fossil fuels. In fact, the truth is the exact opposite; we don’t take a safe climate and make it dangerous; we take a dangerous climate and make it safe. High-energy civilization, not climate, is the driver of climate livability.


Note: BTW, The Heartland Institute will discuss COP 28 this Friday LIVE on Climate Change Roundtable, and our President, James Taylor, will be on hand next week at COP 28 in Dubai to make these same points about the tremendous benefits of fossil fuels and fight false climate catastrophe claims. Keep an eye out for our efforts.

H. Sterling Burnett
H. Sterling Burnett
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is the Director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News. In addition to directing The Heartland Institute's Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environmental Policy, Burett puts Environment & Climate News together, is the editor of Heartland's Climate Change Weekly email, and the host of the Environment & Climate News Podcast.

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  1. False alarms are just like crying fire in theater create fear and panic! You have to create a crisis or nobody will listen even if the facts are distorted to show the opposite!
    Politicians claiming unfounded accusations of of a climate hoax don’t have to prove anything as they are just out to create a narrative to get their message across to their followers that they are on their side! But they have no intention of abiding by their promises and so the hypocrisy continues to spread!


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