President Daniels’ Washington Post editorial on Oct. 12 cherry-picks a phrase from the 2018 IPCC “Key Economic Sectors and Services” report where the authors state “(the) impact of climate change will be small.”

On the next page, the authors explain “Global economic impacts from climate change are difficult to estimate. Economic impact estimates completed over the past 20 years vary in their coverage of subsets of economic sectors and depend on a large number of assumptions, many of which are disputable, and estimates do not account for catastrophic changes, tipping points, and many other factors….Not all key economic sectors and services have been subject to detailed research.”

The problem of data disparity was the subject of an article published last week in Scientific American. Researchers used AI to analyze 102,000 climate change studies and found “There are clear divisions across geographic and economic lines…High-income countries are nearly twice as likely to have high evidence for climate impacts as low-income countries. Low evidence…is especially prevalent across Africa and Asia... That means large swaths of the Earth’s population live in places where there’s been relatively little research on the consequences of climate change.”

Among those studies that have quantified the global impact of climate change, a 2016 article in Nature states that “In line with the results of other studies, we find an enormous global inequality where 20 of the 36 highest emitting countries are among the least vulnerable to negative impacts of future climate change. Conversely, 11 of the 17 countries with low or moderate GHG emissions are acutely vulnerable to negative impacts of climate change.”

Convincing leaders in wealthy countries they must stop damaging less-affluent countries is what it means to speak truth to power.

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