A post by Steve Milloy of Junkscience has turned up some interesting figures about the ‘Population Bomb’. Here they are:

Per capita global food production has […] increased by 26.5 percent between 1968 and 2005, according to the World Resources Institute. The number of people who starve to death daily declined from 41,000 in 1977 to 24,000 today, according to The Hunger Project, an organization combating global hunger
http://junkscience.com/ByTheJunkman/2008082108.html

If you multiply 24,000 by the number of days in a year, this works out at about 8.7 million deaths from starvation per annum; a million more than the whole population of Greater London.

Later in his article, Milloy mentions that:

According to U.N. statistics, the number of people in the developing world who were considered to be undernourished in 1968 was estimated at about 900 million. That estimate is on track to be reduced by more than 50 per cent by 2015, according to the U.N.

The United Nations is an organisation that loves to take credit for any improvement in the human condition, and it has no shame about self-administered pats on the back. But looking more closely at these figures, we find some rather nasty facts that we should all be ashamed about.

If the number of undernourished people in the developing world has almost halved in the last forty years, that still leaves nearly 450 million people today almost half a billion out of a global population of about 6 billion – who do not get enough to eat. And of course malnutrition increases mortality rates from numerous causes other than starvation.

The downward trend is encouraging, but it should not be used to disguise the fact that in the first decade of the 21st century, more than one in 13 of the world’s population are deprived of the most fundamental necessity of existence; they are not getting enough to eat.

If these figures applied equally to both the first world and the developing world, then what would the reaction of European and North American governments – and the electorates that have voted them into office – be? Just imagine what our priorities would be if 13 out of every 100 people in the UK were undernourished? What would the headlines in the media say?

At the moment there is much hand-ringing among world leaders about the ‘world food crisis’,which has been caused, in part at least, by demand for biofuels. And until quite recently, biofuels were hailed as one of the alternative sources of energy that could stop climate change. The organisation that has done more than any other to spread alarm about possible global warming is, of course, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN agency.

I only saw the starvation and malnutrition figures because I happened to get an email notification about Steve Milloy’s article. So far as I know the press and the rest of the mass media made nothing of the story. Contrast this lack of reaction with the following, which comes from a lead story in the Washington Post in 2005:

Climate Shift Tied To 150,000 Fatalities

Most Victims Are Poor, Study Says

By Juliet Eilperin

Earth’s warming climate is estimated to contribute to more than 150,000 deaths and 5 million illnesses each year, according to the World Health Organization, [another UN agency] a toll that could double by 2030.

The data, being published today in the journal Nature, indicate that climate change is driving up rates of malaria, malnutrition and diarrhea throughout the world.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/16/AR2005111602197.html

Not surprisingly, this story was the subject of worldwide headlines within hours, and the mantra ‘climate change is killing 150,000 people a year’ has remained popular with global warming advocates ever since.

Whether or not the small rise in global temperatures that we saw during the 20th century was caused by human activity, and can therefor be controlled, has yet to be decided. What is certain is that it is well within our capabilities to make sure that people get enough to eat, provided that the political will exists to give this matter priority.

I have no opinion on the validity of the WHO’s research, which was carried out by the University of Wisconsin; it is the public attitude that interests me. The figure for supposed climate change induced deaths is one-three-thousandth of that for malnutrition. There is a body of research that shows that mortality anomalies are higher when temperatures fall than when they rise, and it is common ground that natural variation in temperature has always been a characteristic of Earth’s climate. One thing that we can be sure of is that global temperatures are not, and never have been, constant. There will always be a trend either up or down, and there will always be some people who suffer as a result.

Many climate change sceptics consider that the present concerns about global warming now amount to hysteria, and our assessment of the scientific evidence is no longer rational. If this is the case, then millions in the developing world are going hungry unnecessarily while the eyes of the first world are focused on efforts to control the climate.

This kind of hysteria kills.

101 Responses to “How many people has ‘climate change’ killed?”

  1. Re: #100, Peter

    You say:

    An appropriate analogy would be that we are all marching lemming-like towards the cliff edge.

    Lemmings don’t relying on output from GCMs to determine whether the cliff edge exists. And why must you aportion views to your oponents which so exactly fit your arguments?

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