Confronting The Fear Of Climate Disasters

Executive Summary

Contributed by Robert Lyman © 2024. Robert Lyman’s bio can be read here.

Proponents of the thesis that humans are causing catastrophic climate change insist that changes in the earth’s climate observed over the past century and a half are causing significant increases in extreme weather events and major economic losses.

United Nations organizations often support this view. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) regularly issues reports on climate change and weather as though the two are inexorably linked. In May 2023, the WMO published a report entitled Economic costs of weather-related disasters soars but early warnings save lives. The reported economic losses rose significantly from about USD$184 billion in the 1970s to about USD 1.47 trillion from 2010-2019.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) periodically issues reports describing how disasters, linked allegedly to climate change, are harming agriculture and food security. In 2023, it issued a report entitled The Impact of Disasters on Agriculture and Food Security. It warned that “disasters are producing unprecedented levels of damage and loss to agriculture around the world…Research aimed at deciphering the impact of climate change on agriculture indicates that climate change is likely to lead to more frequent anomalies and a decrease in agricultural production.

Both reports neglected to provide context for their findings. In more than 80 percent of the disasters in the developed countries cited by the WMO, the economic losses were equivalent to less than 0.1 per cent of the countries’ gross domestic product. Over the period 2000 to 2021 the global value added of agriculture, forestry and fishing rose by 84 percent from about USD 2.0 trillion to USD 3.7 trillion per year. In other words, global agricultural production was not “reduced” by disasters.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) seeks to define and assess what it considers to be real or potential adverse effects of climate change. Every few years the IPCC publishes an “assessment report” in which it attempts to set out the state of the knowledge. The most recent report was the Sixth Assessment Report, published in 2021. The executive summary of this report states that evidence of observed changes in extremes and their attribution to human influence has strengthened, in particular for extreme precipitation, droughts, tropical cyclones and compound extremes (including dry/hot events and fire weather).It gives an impression, reflected in media reports, that the world faces a grave situation.

A more detailed reading of the assessment reveals an entirely different conclusion.

The most revealing part of the report concerns the probability and timing of the emergence of “climate impact drivers” and the related “impacts” and the IPCC’s collective judgments about whether the impacts are already occurring or may be expected to emerge in future. The only impacts for which the IPCC has a “high confidence” of impacts already increasing are in mean air temperature, extreme heat, mean ocean temperature, and atmospheric carbon dioxide at the surface. There is also “high confidence” of decreases in the dissolved oxygen in the ocean and in lake, river and sea ice. There is a “medium confidence” that ocean salinity at the surface has already occurred. There is also “medium confidence” that decreases in cold spells and in permafrost have already occurred.

For the rest of the potential climate impacts, there is a “low confidence in the direction of change” of most of the impacts that get almost endless media attention, including precipitation, aridity, drought, fire weather, cyclones and severe wind storms, snow and sea ice, sea levels, coastal erosion, ocean acidity and air pollution. The dire outcomes that so many in governments and the media predict are, in many cases, not confidently foreseen by the IPCC scientists even under the worst-case scenarios.

Maybe the mainstream media should report this.


  1. Andrew Roman

    I’m unimpressed with expressions like “medium confidence” as confidence is a psychological concept based on assessment of the likelihood of a causation.

  2. Fran Manns

    Extreme weather corrrelation to the solar cycle; weak cycle = more extremes…

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