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Stuff you're not allowed to know #7: trends in natural disasters

04 Oct 2023 | Science Notes

We really mean it this time, you’re not supposed to be reading these dangerous, subversive authors. Think of the implications. This week the topic is trends in natural disasters. Which are just going up and up, surely. And in this our final week we have to acknowledge that there is one disaster series showing a strong upward trend across the 20th century, roughly matching the pattern of global warming. But there’s a catch.

Here it is:

Now do you believe humans are upsetting the delicate balance of nature? Except this chart shows the number of reported earthquakes, and not even in the deepest, gooiest bogs in the alarmist fever swamp will you find anyone claiming greenhouse gases cause earthquakes.

OK, you will. And it’s NASA. But never mind, because the people who publish the data don’t even claim there’s an upward trend in actual earthquakes, only in the number that got reported. Specifically they note: “one major contributor to the increase in disasters occurrence over the last decades is the constantly improving diffusion and accuracy of disaster related information.” In other words there probably used to be about as many earthquakes and other disasters as there are now, but relatively few made it into official records until the modern era of mass media. And this biases all the trends in disaster counts, which is a very important thing to keep in mind when hearing casual claims about rising rates of natural disasters.

Putting all natural disasters together yields an even more striking rise:

The authors ask: Is it really the case that natural disasters soared throughout the 20th century, then started trending down this century? And they argue that the answer is no. Instead, “the main reason of the increase in the second half of the twentieth century is the growing reporting capacity of individual states and [since] this capacity has stabilized on a reliable level, the number of disasters has become stationary or has even gone down.”

And so we leave you with the wise words of the authors of the paper we have been examining:

“Leaving the baton to our children without burdening them with the anxiety of being in a climate emergency would allow them to face the various problems in place (energy, agricultural-food, health, etc.) with a more objective and constructive spirit, with the goal of arriving at a weighted assessment of the actions to be taken without wasting the limited resources at our disposal in costly and ineffective solutions. How the climate of the twenty-first century will play out is a topic of deep uncertainty. We need to increase our resiliency to whatever the future climate will present us.”

We need to remind ourselves that addressing climate change is not an end in itself, and that climate change is not the only problem that the world is facing. The objective should be to improve human well-being in the twenty-first century, while protecting the environment as much as we can and it would be a nonsense not to do so: it would be like not taking care of the house where we were born and raised.

2 comments on “Stuff you're not allowed to know #7: trends in natural disasters”

  1. One interesting correlation which might be reported on would be between the level of climate change hysteria whipped up by the media and the level of suicides and other self-destructive behaviour amongst the younger generation.
    Just as a matter of interest, might future governments make it a criminal offense for those in positions of power to knowingly foment hysteria likely to cause self-destruction behaviour amonsgt younger people? Like, for example, the Secretary General of the UN giving speeches about boiling oceans?

  2. Once the satellite and internet communications started to bite, disaster reporting became instant. If there was nothing happening at home lazy "journalist"could always dig up a disaster somewhere in the world. And this is now turned into "climate is falling apart" reporting.
    My blessed mother, in her declining years, pined for the state of the world how it stumbled from disaster to another. 9/11 fires, floods, droughts...etc.
    She suffered, it did not make difference that all these things happened before, but no one reported them, because it was old news by the time video was flown over the oceans. It is no worse than it has been, our ability to report it across the globe makes it worse

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