Bjorn Lomborg has an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Examining the Latest False Alarm on Climate," which contains a helpful illustration of the way the media uses studies to whip up anxiety around one of their pet projects.
In the piece, he discusses a spate of recent startling headlines all of which suggest that, in his words, "Rising sea levels from climate change could flood 187 million people out of their homes." This claim has its origin in a paper published all the way back in 2011, and when you actually read the paper, you see that it needed to make some pretty questionable assumptions in order to arrive at that figure. As Lomborg explains, the paper found that "187 million could be forced to move in the unlikely event that, in the next 80 years, no one does anything to adapt to dramatic rises in sea level."
In other words, in order for their projection to make sense, the paper's authors had to take worst-case climate scenarios (which are already questionable) projected out over a century and then disregard what we know about actual human behavior. If sea-levels rise as much as these authors are claiming (which is, once again, not certain), leading to significant coastal flooding, one hundred eighty-seven million people -- not to mention their governments -- aren't just going to sit there until they're neck-deep in water. What would actually happen, says Lomborg, is we would deal with those problems as they arise.
We have more know-how and technology than ever to build dikes, surge barriers and dams, expand beaches and construct dunes, make ecosystem-based barriers like mangrove buffers, improve building codes and construction techniques, and use land planning and hazard mapping to minimize flooding.
The one hundred eighty-seven million displaced people headline, then, is a canard, based on dubiously applied data, whose object it is to frighten you into signing onto a sprawling environmentalist program. While flooding will likely be a serious problem over the next 80 years, as it is in many parts of the world today, targeted policies and spending could go a long way towards reducing their human and financial costs.
They're also more likely to be successful than the beef-and-airplane bans our mainstream media overlords have in mind.