National Climate Assessment Is Heavy on Fear, Light on Science

National Climate Assessment Is Heavy on Fear, Light on Science
January 31, 2013

Steve Goreham

Steve Goreham, a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, is a speaker, author, and researcher on... (read full bio)

The National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee on January 11 issued a draft report titled “Climate Change and the American People.” The report was produced by the 60-person NCADAC and supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of our federal government. The report concludes, “Climate change is already affecting the American people” and U.S. communities will face “economic or health-related challenges.” Sadly, common sense is hard to find in the 1,146-page document.

Guided by Climatism

The report is driven by the misguided ideology of Climatism, the belief that manmade greenhouse gases are destroying Earth’s climate. According to Climatism, Earth’s climate has been unchanging for thousands of years, but carbon dioxide emissions from human society are now causing dangerous global warming. Furthermore, any change in Earth’s climate must be bad for U.S. citizens.

‘Extreme’ Claims

The document uses the word “extreme” more than 600 times, to create an alarming picture of the future. It predicts “extreme heat events … extreme weather … extreme snowstorms … extreme winds … extreme drought … extreme floods … extreme rainfall,” and many other “extremes,” all claimed to be due to mankind’s relatively small emissions of CO2, a trace gas in our atmosphere. The report’s conclusions are based on computer model projections.

There is no empirical evidence to show U.S. climate events are becoming more severe. When Hurricane Sandy devastated New York City last year, it was only a Category 1 storm in terms of wind speed. No strong hurricane (Category 3 winds or stronger) has made landfall in the United States during the last seven years, the longest such period on record. The count of strong to violent U.S. tornadoes has been flat to declining over the last 30 years.

Even a chart on page 59 of the NCADAC report shows U.S. droughts were most severe during the 1930s and 1950s.

It would take a Ph.D. thesis to refute all the unsupported assertions in the report, so let’s focus on just one: the claim that warm temperatures are a health risk for U.S. citizens. In Chapter 9 the document states, “Extreme heat events have long threatened public health in U.S. metropolitan areas.… [C]limate projections indicate that extreme heat events will be more frequent and intense in coming decades.” The chapter goes on to conclude climate change will cause an “increase in heat-related deaths.”

Bizarre Temperature Worry

The computer models cited in the NCADAC report estimate, on average, that global temperature will increase by 3oC (5.4oF) by the year 2100. According to the report, this will pose a health hazard for U.S. citizens by causing extreme heat waves. The average temperature in Chicago is 49oF, and the average temperature in St. Louis is 56oF, a difference of 3.9oC. Are more people dying in St. Louis due to this “extreme” temperature difference?

Earlier this month, I flew to Houston with a planeload of coughing and sneezing passengers. The news media reported that we were in the midst of an influenza epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control define the U.S. flu season as lasting from October to March. According to the World Health Organization of the United Nations, the flu season for the Southern Hemisphere is from April to October, during their winter months. Could it be that a cold climate has a greater negative impact on human health than warmer climate?

Cold and Sickness

In fact, scientific studies show more people get sick in cold weather and more die as a result. The late Dr. William Keating of Queen Mary and Westfield College led a team that studied temperature-related deaths for people aged 65 to 74 in six European nations. Keating’s team found deaths related to cold temperatures were more than nine times greater than those related to hot temperatures in Europe. Heart attacks, strokes, and respiratory illness were responsible for most of the cold-weather deaths.

Dr. Matthew Falagas of the Alfa Institute of Medical Sciences in Athens, Greece analyzed seasonal mortality for eleven nations, including the United States. The research showed the average number of deaths per month was lower in summer and fall months and peaked in the coldest months of the year for all nations.

Most of us have an Aunt Susan or an Uncle Henry who has retired or plans to retire to another climate. The favored locations are Alaska, Canada, and North Dakota, right? Nonsense! Senior citizens wish to retire to the warm climates of Florida, Texas, and Arizona. But don’t they know our government warns about premature death in warm climates?

In fact, Aunt Susan and Uncle Henry have more common sense than the U.S. government.

Steve Goreham (steve@climatism.net) is executive director of the Climate Science Coalition of America and author of the new book The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism: Mankind and Climate Change Mania. This article first appeared in the Washington Times and is reprinted with permission.

Steve Goreham

Steve Goreham, a policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, is a speaker, author, and researcher on... (read full bio)