Climate change kills 300,000 a year! At a guess.
Posted by softestpawn on May 29, 2009
While the climate change believers throw around wild accusations of the deniers throwing around wild accusations of watering down studies ( George Monbiots is an old but oft quoted example ), a “Global Humanitarian Forum” press release has gone through the usual raving hippy sites like a dose of measles through a JABS community. All under the headline “Climate Change does in 300,000 a year” or similar, and even The Guardian and CNN are at it.
And why not? It has all the hallmarks of a good press release: it’s got Big Scary Numbers (300,000 deaths a year!!!111!) that can be quoted over and over to give it a semblance of certainty, opportunities for pictures of poor suffering people, it’s from an organisation with a UN celebrity attached and it’s been reviewed by ‘international experts’.
It must be true.
And then there’s the chance for a bit of righteous outrage: “something must be done” – from those who would ‘facilitate’ that doing, of course. And oh gosh, that’s handy, soon negotiations start in Bonn, preludes to replacing the expensive and impotent Kyoto, where things could be talked about being done.
So is there any value behind it? So far there’s only a brief summary online so let’s look at where it comes from. A bit ad-hom, but ho-hum.
Here’s their own news update, and we can see that it hasn’t in fact been written by the GHF, it was commissioned by them from Dalberg Global Development Advisors who appear to be a ‘facilitating’ and ‘partnering’ consultancy. Easy to scoff at (and I do), but charities and public bodies are notorious for not knowing how to run as a business, and it can take some time to for private and charity/public bodies to sort out how to work together. There might really be a business opportunity.
But they have no apparent experience as a research group.
Alright, but it was reviewed by ‘international experts’. As if ‘international’ is a relevant qualification, and ‘expert’ was any kind of meaningful one. In fact the experts are themselves: Rajenda Pachauri is indeed in the IPCC (and also happens to be on the board of the GHF), Jeffrey Sachs is of Columbia University (and is quite active on the Forum), and Barbara Stocking is indeed senior in Oxfam (and also on the Forum board).
The report was commissioned by them and then reviewed by them, and released as a ‘comprehensive study’. There’s less quality assurance on this than there is in journal peer review – itself not even a quality control.
Imagine an oil company commissioning a similar report and reviewing it itself; it would have been, rightly, laughed at contemptously.
Otherwise, just browsing the Globally Human Forumite site, there are long interminable speeches calling for ‘more investment in technology and renewables’ and ‘we’ve identified the needs, now we just need the money‘.
So. It looks like a fairly standard ‘charity’ parasite. Staff jet around the globe, ‘facilitating’ with other charity parasites, earning nice fat salaries on foreign jollies, discussing how the world is in a bad way and identifying simple, outrageously ignorant and mindlessly chidlishly stupid ways of fixing it. The sort of thing most of us do in the pub after a few beers. Nice work if you can get it.
The Economist seems to have bothered to find and look at the report rather than just repeat the press release, and spared a few paragraphs to politley rubbish it.
Update: hand-wavy methodology extract is here (PDF). Amongst the very dodgy assumptions, they appear to have taken two points in time for earthquake disasters and used them to try and ‘remove’ non-weather effects, presumably like population increase, urbanisation etc. That’s the basis for their man-made climate change effect. Quite apart from everything else that’s wrapped up in that technique, yes, it’s that straight line drawn through a dataset that is so popular in this industry.
Particularly ironic is that they use only the period 1980-2005, and global warming believers frequently claim you need at least 30 years to establish climate trends, anything less is weather.
So in fact this report merely says that weather kills people, and we already knew that.
Update 2: Roger Pielke has more here but he is a famous ‘denier’, so must be terribly biased. Obviously.