3 Environmental Doomsday Myths, Debunked


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A college student recently wrote the following in a campus newspaper about her climate anxiety

I stay up into the early hours of the morning, Googling some variation of «Is there hope for climate change,» and «Biden climate change plan good?» I fret over every piece of waste I encounter, wondering whether I should trash it or wash it and hope it qualifies for the recycling bin. The anxiety is crippling. Many young people clearly are suffering intense climate anxiety.

Human Extinction Due To Climate Change Is Imminent

At the source of much anxiety about climate change is the belief that humans are likely to go extinct sometime in the near future due to its effects. Michael Mann, who is a professor of atmospheric science at Penn State and a superstar of the movement to fight climate change, wrote that «There is no evidence of climate change scenarios that would render human beings extinct». In Michael Shellenberger’s book, Apocalypse Never, he notes that Stanford University atmospheric scientist Ken Caldeira also said that «climate change does not threaten human extinction».

The Climate Is Getting Substantially More Dangerous for Humans

Usually stemming from the belief that humans will go extinct from climate change is the perception that it is currently making life substantially more dangerous for humans. But, in fact, humans are actually much more protected from climate-related disasters than we were just 100 years ago. Yes, there is climate danger. But there is also climate resilience.

The reason for the dramatic reduction in climate-related deaths over the past 100 years has been the rapid economic and technological development that has characterized the US during that time. Whether it be more reliable infrastructure, access to cheap energy, or a better ability to forecast severe weather events before they take place, these have all led to rising human safety even in the face of climate change.

FEE’s Saul Zimet summed it up well when he wrote

This is because, while it is difficult to model a changing climate, it is impossible to model the future of human ingenuity, which will be composed of decisions and insights that only the people of the future can possibly know.


When it comes to the number of major hurricanes in the continental United States since 1900, he has not found a dramatic increase, but rather a slight decrease. The first is how intense the storm itself is and the second is how much damage there is as a consequence of the storm. On the second question, it is true but misleading to say that the economic costs of natural disasters, including hurricanes, have gotten worse. looked into economic damages from natural disasters over time as a percentage of GDP, he found that they have actually declined.

Even so, the rising dollar number with respect to damages is often cited as evidence that hurricanes are getting worse. The United States experienced 22 billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in 2020, shattering the previous annual record of 16 events. 2020 was the worst fire season on record, burning over 10.2 million acres and costing over $16 billion in damages and $3 billion in suppression costs. Over the past 100 years, such development and population increase have been widespread in the US.

As a result, we would expect more people to now take up space within the bull’s-eye.


In 2014, researchers from Auburn University and the Georgia Institute of Technology found «a significant declining trend» of global burned area since 1900. He has also, based on publicly available data, compiled his own numbers on the area burned in the US since 1900 as a consequence of wildfires. His data show a similar trend, with burned area reducing dramatically over time.

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Source: Jack Elbaum | FEE 

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