In the video below Skeptical Environmentalist author Bjorn Lomborg succinctly explains why immediate carbon reduction efforts are terrible public policy. Part of his presentation makes a strong case that the consequences from global warming claimed by those pushing carbon capping are vastly exaggerated and one sided.

Lomborg also recently tackled specific claims made President-elect Barack Obama. In The Australian, Lomborg writes:

Obama went on to say why he wants to prioritize global warming policies: “The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear. Sea levels are rising. Coastlines are shrinking. We’ve seen record drought, spreading famine, and storms that are growing stronger with each passing hurricane season.”

Yes, global warming is happening, and mankind is partly responsible, but these statements are – however eloquent – seriously wrong or misleading.

Sea levels are rising, but they have been rising at least since the early 1800s. In the era of satellite measurements, the rise has not accelerated (actually we’ve seen a sea-level fall during the past two years). The UN expects about a 30cm sea-level rise during this century, about what we saw during the past 150 years.

In that period, many coastlines increased, most obviously The Netherlands, because rich countries can easily protect and even expand their territory. But even for oft-cited Bangladesh, scientists just this year showed that the country grows by 20sq km each year, because river sedimentation wins out over rising sea levels.

Obama’s claim about record droughts similarly fails even on a cursory level: the US has in all academic estimates been getting wetter through the past the century (with the 1930s dust bowl setting the drought high point). This is even true globally during the past half-century, as one of the most recent scientific studies of actual soil moisture shows: “There is an overall small wetting trend in global soil moisture.”

Furthermore, famine has declined rapidly in the past half century. The main deviation has been the past two years of record-high food prices, caused not by climate change but by the policies designed to combat it: the dash for ethanol, which put food into cars and thus upward pressure on food prices. The World Bank estimates that this policy has driven at least 30 million more people into hunger. To cite policy-driven famine as an argument for more of the same policy seems unreasonable, to say the least.

Finally, it is simply wrong to say that storms are growing stronger every hurricane season. Even for the Atlantic hurricane basin, which we tend to hear about most, the total hurricane energy (ACE) as measured by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has declined by two-thirds since the record was set in 2005. For the world, this trend has been more decisive: maximum ACE was reached in 1994 and has plummeted for the past three years, while hurricanes across the world for the past year have been about as inactive as at any time since records began to be kept.