Lomborg: No, We’re Not Experiencing ‘Extreme Weather’

Here’s a must-read piece by Bjørn Lomborg where he takes Paul Krugman, et al., to task for linking the drought in the Midwest to climate change. An excerpt:

“Everyone knows” that you should drink eight glasses of water a day. After all, this is the advice of a multitude of health writers, not to mention authorities like Britain’s National Health Service. [. . .] 

Now the British Medical Journal reports that these claims are “not only nonsense, but thoroughly debunked nonsense.” [. . .] 

The drink-more-water story is curiously similar to how “everyone knows” that global warming only makes climate more extreme. A hot, dry summer (in some places) has triggered another barrage of such claims. And, while many interests are at work, one of the players that benefits the most from this story are the media: the notion of “extreme” climate simply makes for more compelling news.

Consider Paul Krugman, writing breathlessly in The New York Times about the “rising incidence of extreme events” and how “large-scale damage from climate change is … happening now.” He claims that global warming caused the current drought in America’s Midwest, and that supposedly record-high corn prices could cause a global food crisis.

But the United Nations climate panel’s latest assessment tells us precisely the opposite: for “North America, there is medium confidence that there has been an overall slight tendency toward less dryness (wetting trend with more soil moisture and runoff).” Moreover, there is no way that Krugman could have identified this drought as being caused by global warming without a time machine: climate models estimate that such detection will be possible by 2048, at the earliest.

And, fortunately, this year’s drought appears unlikely to cause a food crisis. According to The Economist, “price increases in corn and soybeans are not thought likely to trigger a food crisis, as they did in 2007-08, as global rice and wheat supplies remain plentiful.” Moreover, Krugman overlooks inflation: prices have increased six-fold since 1969, so, while corn futures did set a record of about $8 per bushel in late July, the inflation-adjusted price of corn was higher throughout most of the 1970’s, reaching a whopping $16 in 1974.

The whole piece here.

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