Issue # 25 - Reframing Climate Change: Understanding the Past & Present Pt. 2

Climate Change Mar 23, 2023

Welcome to the latest issue of The Qi of Self-Sovereignty. The newsletter exploring what it means to be free in an increasingly not-so-free world.

Whether you're looking to locate your authentic self or investigate sovereignty, you're in the right place! In each post, with just a few minutes of reading, I aim to expand your awareness through a quote and a piece of content that made me go hmm...

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Thought-Provoking Quote:

"If you think the economy is more important than the environment, try holding your breath while counting your money." - Guy McPherson

This is part two of a two-part series. In the first part, we discussed the misnomer that is climate change, as our planet's climate has been changing since the dawn of time.

More specifically, we explored the widely held belief that our activities are disrupting the natural equilibrium of carbon dioxide (CO2), leading to the phenomenon we know as climate change. We then went on to investigate that, while CO2 is often demonized as the primary culprit of this environmental crisis, not only does the data not add up, but C02 is also an essential component of life itself.

You can find the first part here:

Issue # 24 - Reframing Climate Change: Understanding the Past & Present Pt. 1
Welcome to the latest issue of The Qi of Self-Sovereignty. The newsletter exploring what it means to be free in an increasingly not-so-free world. Whether you’re looking to locate your authentic self or investigate sovereignty, you’re in the right place! Each week, with just a few minutes of readin…

In part two, let's shift our focus away from C02 and delve into another common perspective regarding the climate change discourse:

Response 2: Climate change is creating unnecessary climate events and excess deaths!

There tend to be two paths this conversation takes:

  1. A warming climate increases heat-related deaths.
  2. Climate change is increasing the prevalence of natural disasters, causing unnecessary deaths.

Let's touch on each of these separately.

In August of 2021, the Lancet published a detailed study which explored the prevalence of global temperature-related deaths.

To quote the article:

"The authors estimate that 1.7 million deaths worldwide in 2019 were linked to extreme heat and cold (356 000 were related to heat)."

From this sentence, we can discern two things.

First, in 2019, there were 55.4 million deaths worldwide, with temperature-related deaths accounting for a mere 3% of that total. Even if there were a moderate increase in temperature-related deaths, it would have only a minimal impact on the overall global mortality rate. So, while we should take the issue of temperature-related deaths seriously, we must also keep in mind that it is just one of many factors contributing to global mortality.

Second, and more importantly, out of those 1.7 million deaths, only 20%, some 356,000, were heat-related. That means the vast majority of temperature-related deaths are from cold exposure rather than heat exposure.

This means if temperatures are rising nominally, we should expect to see a reduction in temperature-related deaths considering the majority are related to cold.

So I guess this idea that climate change is increasing heat-related deaths doesn't seem to hold water.

Let's now examine climate change's impact on natural disasters. For this, I am going to reference a book which has greatly helped me in unraveling the complex topic of climate change:

Insightful content which made me go, hmm...

That book is "False Alarm," by Bjorn Lomborg.

What makes this book a must-read is that Lomborg goes out on a limb to argue against the extreme and urgent actions some activists and politicians recommended to combat climate change—something very few are doing.

Although he acknowledges that climate change is a real and important issue, he believes the current policies and proposals are too costly, inefficient, and focused on the wrong solutions. He then proposes a more pragmatic and evidence-based approach that prioritizes innovation, technological progress, and economic growth while also tackling other global problems such as poverty, disease, and education.

With this book in mind, let's take a stab at the second common discussion point surrounding climate events and excess deaths:

Climate change is increasing the prevalence of natural disasters.

One of the primary challenges in monitoring the frequency of natural disasters is the limited data available, as reliable records only date back about a century or so.

Despite having limited data that only goes back around 100 years, we can still use the available information to identify potential trends in the prevalence of natural disasters. By analyzing this data, we can determine whether there is an upward or downward trend in the frequency of these events over time.

Similar to C02 in the last newsletter, let's look at a few different sources…

With wildfires being a nightmare for most, it can be easy to understand why people fear them. I wouldn't want to see my house burned down.

However, it's crucial to determine whether the apparent increase in the frequency, severity, and damage of forest fires is due to an actual rise or simply due to greater media coverage. For instance, for me living in British Columbia, before the internet, it's possible that I would not have been aware of forest fires in California. Therefore, it's important to assess whether there has been a real increase in the prevalence of forest fires or if it is only a result of more widespread media coverage.

Figure 1 below shows a drastic decline in forest fires from the 1940s onwards. This was not by chance but due to increased technology and understanding of fire suppression techniques.

Figure 1: US Forest Area Burned 1926-2017

That said, a notable trend occurred in the 1990s, as there was a slight increase in the rate of forest fires. One possible explanation could be the accumulation of brush over decades from a more aggressive approach to fighting forest fires. When fires are suppressed, the underbrush never burns. As a result, these fires quickly become much more severe when a fire does occur.

Another study found that through analyzing satellite imagery, we have experienced a 25% reduction in global burns over the past 18 years alone.

"In total, the global amount of area burned has declined more than 540,000 square miles, from 1.9 million square miles in the early part of the last century to 1.4 million square miles today." - Bjorn Lomborg

But we have to be honest with ourselves. Even with this data, it is hard to determine whether there has been an increased prevalence of forest fires as we now have a greater capacity to manage them.

However, one thing is for sure. There doesn't seem to be a significant rise in forest fires, which would indicate that the media may be blowing this narrative out of proportion.

That said, current forest fire data does indicate an increase in forest fires in areas of increased population density. This suggests that this increase in fires we're experiencing may be human-caused rather than natural.

Critics may respond by saying that forest fires have done more damage in recent decades, which points to increased forest fires. In saying that, this pushback doesn't consider inflation and increased population density.

When a forest fire hits an area, it will appear to do more damage today than, say, 100 years ago for two reasons:

  1. As the currency is worth less, the dollar value of the damage appears greater.
  2. As the global population has swelled, there are more man-made structures to be damaged.
"When we look at the US West, the number of homes built in high-fire-risk zones has increased drastically from half a million in 1940 to almost seven million in 2010. This is more than three times faster than the US-wide housing increase over the same period, so of course many more homes are likely to experience wildfire." - Bjorn Lomborg

Ok, so if forest fires have no clear trend, why don't we look at flooding?

As noted above, it's hard to discern the effects of damage when our currency has been falling in value due to inflation.

That said, there are ways around this.

One method to remove the effects of inflation is to look at the cost of environmental damage as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). This means that no matter how much the currency has lost value, if the damage is increasing, so should the cost of damage in relation to GDP.

However, when we examine the cost of flooding as a percentage of GDP, as shown in Figure 2 below, we do not observe an increase in expenditure. In fact, we see a slight but clear downward trend.

Figure 2: US Flooding Costs As a % of GDP.

Just like forest fires, the idea that climate change is causing increased flooding doesn't seem to hold up.

As one study puts it:

"North America and Europe, provide a firmer foundation and support the conclusion of the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] that compelling evidence for increased flooding at a global scale is lacking."

And the same is true for drought. To quote Bjorn Lomborg once more:

"One 2014 study even shows a persistent decline in global drought since 1982, and another from 2018 finds this downward trend goes all the way back to 1902.

So if forest fires and floods don't indicate an increased prevalence of natural disasters, let's look at hurricanes– the most expensive weather-related disaster.

Two-thirds of all catastrophic weather losses worldwide from 1980 to the present were due to storms making landfall in the United States.

If natural disasters have increased, we should most likely see such signs in the frequency of hurricanes.

But unfortunately, we reach a dead end again.

The same study, citing the impact of hurricanes, noted that landfalling hurricanes in the continental US show no trend in either frequency or strength. In fact, if there is a trend, it is a downward trend (albeit statistically insignificant).

And, as noted above with forest fires, it's important to remember that a hurricane hitting Florida in the early 1920s with a population of ~1 million would have done minimal damage compared to today when Florida's population sits at ~22 million.

So if the evidence doesn't support increased dollar damage from hurricanes, floods or forest fires, where are these so-called increased deaths coming from?

I'm going to keep on digging and reporting on this topic in the future, so stay tuned.

To end…

Hopefully, the last two newsletter posts have offered some relief on the climate change front. Although we are clearly experiencing climate change, it's not black or white whether we, humans, are behind that change, or if the described change is as disastrous as it is made out to be.

Regardless, I am all for reducing unnecessary environmental destruction and energy wastage. But, we should consider how certain "green" beliefs impact our decision-making... especially toward transitioning away from reliable energy sources.

Energy abundance is vital for self-sovereignty. When we arbitrarily create dependence on certain types of energy, such as "green energy," we increase energy grid fragility, giving up control to mother nature.

Forcing a transition toward currently unreliable green solutions is most likely not the solution. Particularly when considering 84.3% of global energy production is from fossil fuels, and a further 4.3% is from Nuclear.

We have to figure out more effective ways of working in symbiosis with our planet, striving to reduce environmental destruction, all while at the same time minimizing the impact of our self-imposed arbitrary energy policies that primarily affect the lower and middle classes.

One solution could be to redesign our economy to disincentivize consumption, which is wrecking havoc on our environment, and promote saving.

The big question now is, how?

I believe the answer lies in our money.

As for why, you'll just have to wait... Over the past three months, I have been hard at work on a book that I'm eager to share with you all. It will be available in the coming months, and as valued supporters, you'll be the first to know when it's ready. I appreciate your continued support and can't wait for you to read it.

Lastly, if I'm misinterpreting any of the data or you have alternate evidence, I would love to hear from you, as in the end, I am about seeking truth and doing what's best for humanity and our planet.

Thanks for taking the time to read this issue of The Qi of Self-Sovereignty. I hope you found it insightful.

I always welcome feedback and thoughts. So, do not hesitate to respond to the newsletter email, comment on the article or reach out via Twitter.


The future is bright!