A scandalous 2019 Foreign Affairs article by the director-general of the World Health Organization asserted: “Climate Change Is Already Killing Us.” Says [Steven] Koonin, “Astoundingly, the article conflates deaths due to ambient and household air pollution (which cause … about one-eighth of total deaths from all causes) with deaths due to human-induced climate change.” The WHO says indoor air pollution in poor countries, mostly the result of cooking with wood and animal and crop waste, is the world’s most serious environmental problem. This is, however, the result not of climate change but of poverty, which will become more intractable if climate-change policies make energy more expensive by making fossil fuels less accessible.
As is now customary, the report emphasizes climate change in recent decades but obscures, or fails to mention, historical precedents that weaken the case that humanity’s influence on the climate has been catastrophic. The Summary for Policy Makers section says the rate of global sea-level rise has been increasing over the past 50 years. It doesn’t mention that it was increasing almost as rapidly 90 years ago before decreasing strongly for 40 years.
Extreme weather events are invoked as proof of impending disaster. But the floods in Europe and China and record temperatures across regions of the U.S. are weather, not climate—singular events, not decadeslong trends. Both Europe and China have experienced equally devastating floods in past centuries, but these are forgotten or deliberately ignored. The drought and wildfires in the Western U.S. are part of a trend going back a few decades, but forest management and expanding human presence in the forests are perhaps more important than climate change in causing these events.
Of interest to the nonfatuous was the track of real-world temperature changes. The IPCC estimates a rise of 1.1 degrees celsius in the past 150 years. This information, which it highlighted in bold print, led the IPCC in much finer print to lop 0.5 degree Celsius off its likely worst-case impact of a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide.
In other words, real-world warming, the IPCC finally acknowledges, has been less than that expected from its climate models.
At Columbia, president Lee Bollinger (a former law dean), said that introducing Critical Race Theory was “urgent and necessary.” And Professor Gillian Lester, referring to the Columbia Law faculty, stated, “Their scholarship, teaching and advocacy have illuminated the pervasive effects of structural racism in our society and the law.”
But is teaching CRT anything to brag about, in law school or any other educational institution? Many think not. For instance, professors Richard Vedder and Amy Wax, writing for Independent Institute, state, “the most pernicious aspect of CRT instruction is not its content, but the one-sided, dogmatic intolerance of any alternative points of view.”
Americans should address the very real challenges posed by the PRC’s oppressive shift under Xi Jinping. But they should remain engaged with China and especially the Chinese people. Liberty is under siege but not forever lost.