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Less is more in climate change, not just fashion

Summary:
A quite startling piece of prestigitation here, we have proof that less is more. True, this is about the “science” of climate change so perhaps not all that remarkable given the manipulations that take place here. The claim from the WWF’s Global Futures report is that the effects of climate change will cause significant damage to the global economy:Loss of nature will wipe £368bn a year off global economic growth by 2050 and the UK will be the third-worst hit, with a £16bn annual loss, according to a study by the World Wildlife Fund. Without urgent action to protect nature, the environmental charity warned that the worldwide impact of coastal erosion, species loss and the decline of natural assets from forests to fisheries could cost a total of almost £8tn over the next 30 years.It said

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A quite startling piece of prestigitation here, we have proof that less is more. True, this is about the “science” of climate change so perhaps not all that remarkable given the manipulations that take place here.

The claim from the WWF’s Global Futures report is that the effects of climate change will cause significant damage to the global economy:

Loss of nature will wipe £368bn a year off global economic growth by 2050 and the UK will be the third-worst hit, with a £16bn annual loss, according to a study by the World Wildlife Fund.

Without urgent action to protect nature, the environmental charity warned that the worldwide impact of coastal erosion, species loss and the decline of natural assets from forests to fisheries could cost a total of almost £8tn over the next 30 years.

It said the loss appeared to be modest at just 0.67% of global income in 2050, but the estimate was conservative and the total was likely to be much higher should areas like the Antarctic deteriorate at a faster pace, causing greater warming and higher-than-forecast sea levels across the world.

The problem with the claim is that it’s nonsense.

The paper is here. Here is actually what they’ve done.

One possible future is called SSP5. This has high economic growth and also high future emissions. Another is SSP1, this has lower economic growth and also emissions.

We’re fine so far. They also say that higher emissions will cause more damage than lower. We’re fine with that as a logical assumption, something internal to the case being built. Then they say that higher emissions will cause damage to ecosystem services, these damages will lead to a reduction of GDP from what it would be in the absence of those emissions/damages. All of this is equally fine as a chain of logic. Sure, it may or may not be true but it’s logically valid.

Then they do something absurd. Remember that SSP5 gives higher GDP growth in the first place. That’s the bit they don’t account for. The thing they never do tell us is whether that final, net, outcome of more growth and more emissions is higher or lower than the slower growth and no emissions damage pathway.

It’s necessary to do that calculation ourselves. And the result is that - working from here and page 13 is the important part - the higher growth hugely outweighs the damages. That is, if we’re to work with the idea that higher GDP is a better thing then the pathway that leads to the damages is better, as it produces a higher end GDP. Or, the damages aren’t in fact damages at all, they’re reductions in benefits.

The actual end result of the calculation is that humanity is better off, overall, having the growth and the emissions. Which absolutely isn’t what the WWF is saying to us, not at all. Something that rather calls into question the credibility of the report and the people doing it, doesn’t it?

The overall point here being that climate change is important. So it would be rather better if we were all presented with the true facts about it instead of being fed near casuistry in the form of propaganda.

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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