WaPo Wonders: Is 'Climate Change' Good?

One of our mantras at The Pipeline has always been "Climate changes. Always has, always will." Which is to say, we've never denied that modern-day weather patterns are different—even significantly different—than those in ages past. In fact, we've written quite a bit about the Roman and Medieval warming periods, as well as the Little Ice Age, of the 16th through 19th centuries. We've looked into the benefits of warming (the expansion of the Roman Empire and the building of the great cathedrals of Europe coincide with the Roman and Medieval warming periods) and even of an elevated concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (which have contributed to record-setting crop yields throughout the world). Which is to say, in general we don't dispute the underlying scientific data, just the questionable conclusions drawn from it.

So it is nice to see the mainstream media acknowledging, however begrudgingly, that we have a point. For instance, the Washington Post recently published an article by Harry Stevens entitled, "Will global warming make temperature less deadly?" The piece begins by mentioning a 2021 study which found that between the years "1991 and 2018... more than one-third of deaths from heat exposure were linked to global warming." Stevens notes that this study received a great deal of attention at the time: "hundreds of news outlets covered the findings." But a follow-up paper got a lot less coverage:

A month later, the same research group... released another peer-reviewed study that told a fuller, more complex story about the link between climate change, temperature, and human mortality. The two papers’ authors were mostly the same, and they used similar data and statistical methods. Published in Lancet Planetary Health, the second paper reported that between 2000 and 2019, annual deaths from heat exposure increased. But deaths from cold exposure, which were far more common, fell by an even larger amount. All told, during those two decades the world warmed by about 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit, and some 650,000 fewer people died from temperature exposure.

While the findings aren't necessarily conclusive—he points to the relatively short time horizon of twenty years—Stevens notes the finding that "on every continent, cold deaths surpassed heat deaths," and finds the authors' conclusion plausible: “The results indicate that global warming might slightly reduce net temperature-related deaths in the short term.” The conclusion itself contains a certain amount of hedging, perhaps because they're concerned about providing aid and comfort to "climate deniers," as they like to call us.

Gaia's just fine, thanks.

Stevens, too, is concerned about the way this result will be interpreted on right-wing Twitter, which is why he pivots to an economic study about the disproportionate impact of global warming on the world's poorest nations. According to that study, "Niger, one of the poorest and hottest countries in the world, is projected to suffer the largest increase in temperature-linked mortality, while cold, wealthy Finland sees the largest decrease."

But this is a non-sequitur. As Hot Air's David Strom points out in his discussion of this study, "Niger is facing this possible future not primarily because it will get a bit hotter, but because it is so poor." (It is also located in Africa instead of near the Barents Sea.) To avert that country's (projected) fate, it makes much more sense to help stabilize its governance and improve its economy than to, say, ban gasoline engines and natural gas heating everywhere else in the world.

Still, a win is a win. The leftists at the Washington Post are willing to grant us that there are some serious benefits to the climate's inevitable changes. This is something for our side to celebrate.