If ‘global warming’ is such a big problem, and extreme weather events are becoming more common and more intense, we should expect deaths from such events, both in absolute and specific terms, to be increasing. But they aren’t. In fact, they have plummeted in the last century, as the graphic on the right shows (click to enlarge)†.
And in case you’re wondering what happened after 2008, the figures for 2009—2013 are continuing to decline even further, with deaths per year down to under 25,000 for this most recent period.*
Why is this? It’s not because extreme weather events are decreasing – increased reporting, better communication and greater population spread in remote areas has meant such events have increased significantly. No, it’s because as global wealth has steadily increased, our ability to deal with such events has improved out of sight. Better adaptation, construction and planning, affordable thanks to economic progress, has enabled a much larger population to cut death rates from 241 per million per year to just 5.
As Fraser Nelson writes in The Spectator (and to whom the hat is duly tipped):
We tend not to hear about all this because journalists, like politicians, are in the business of identifying and drawing attention to problems. And rightly: it’s human nature to be never satisfied, to always raise the definition of success, to always strive for something better. For as long as food banks remain needed, for as long as people are sleeping rough in Britain and hungry in Asia, for as long as anyone dies of a preventable disease like Malaria then there’s still plenty to be outraged about.
But what is going wrong with the world is vastly outweighed by what is going right.And the run of depressing news stories can actually blind us to the greatest story of our age: we really are on our way to making poverty history. Thanks to the way millions of people trade with each other, via a system known by its detractors as global capitalism.
It’s a story that no one organisation or government can take credit for – and a story that doesn’t particularly suit anyone’s agenda. But the story is there, for those with an eye to see it.
I don’t believe there can be a clearer message from these data – crippling the global economies with pointless carbon taxes will not change the weather, and will seriously hamper our ability to adapt to and prepare for whatever climate change may occur in the future, be it warming or cooling.