Essentially, the poor pay for the virtue-signalling of the rich. Dr Matt Ridley opens chapter 14 of Climate Science: The Facts with some blunt claims.
Here is a simple fact about the world today. Climate change is doing more good than harm. Here is another fact. Climate change policy is doing more harm than good.
On top of that he points out that the poor are carrying the cost of today’s climate policy. That is something for the ALP and the social justice warriors to think about.
This should remind people of another great postwar example of destructive virtue-signalling – massive foreign aid to the developing nations aka the Third World. That did more harm than good for the people of the Third World, apart from the crony criminals in power. The great Lord Peter Bauer was onto that very smartly, starting in the 1940s and his findings have been consolidated lately, notably by William Easterly The White Man’s Burden: Why the west’s efforts to aid the rest have done so much ill and so little good. There are exceptions to the rule such as hands-on medical care and private education.
Ridley mentions in passing some of the cases where apparently smart people have made very bad calls, starting with a prominent and wealthy leftwinger who he debated on TV. Faced with the charge that climate policy was hurting the poor he replied “But what about my grandchildren?”. As though the future wellbeing of the presumably affluent and privileged grandchildren of the talking head might be threatened by policies that help the poor who are with us at present. Ridley also cited a son of Charles Darwin who thought that eugenic breeding programs were essential to save civilization and Paul Ehrlich who in 1972 predicted that millions would die due to over-population (prompting the one-child policy in China).
As for being a climate denier.
I am a card-carrying member of the consensus that climate change is real and partly man-made. I also concede that climate change probably does already cause some harm in some places. The point is that the harm is currently smaller than the good it is doing through longer growing seasons, milder winters [?], slightly higher rainfall and faster growth rates of crops and forests because of CO2 fertilization. And that net good stands in stark contrast to the net harm caused by climate change policy.
Global greening is well documented on the basis of satellite observations and other lines of evidence. A team led by Dr Zaichun Zhu from Peking University found that 25 to 50% of the vegetated parts of the planet have greened lately and 4% have browned. According to Dr Zhu “The greening over the past 33 years reported in this study is equivalent to adding a green continent about two times the size of mainland USA (18 million square km).”
Another team found that the growth rate of some common reef-building coral increases with more CO2 up to 0.06% which is 50% more than the current level.
The Downside: 1. Ethanol subsidies. He reports that ethanol uses 5% of the world’s grain, mostly corn. This put up the price of food dramatically in 2008 and the poorest suffer. He cites an estimate that almost 200,000 people die annually from this impost. This is probably on the high side and many different figures circulate but even Mike Hulme who is a dedicated but nuanced alarmist reported in strong terms on this situation. He wrote this in Why We Disagree About Climate Change:
The UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food condemned the growing of biofuels as ‘a crime against humanity’ because they diverted arable land to the production of crops which are then burned for fuel instead of sold for food’…Rather than contributing to the theoretical food security of hundreds of millions of the world’s poor in 50 years time, it has reduced the actual food security of tens of millions of the world’s poor today.
To be continued with biodiesel programs, the promotion of diesel cars (less CO2 but more nitrogen oxides and particulates), burning wood pellets shipped across the Atlantic, wind power, solar farms, fuel poverty, the neglect of more serious environmental problems and more.