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How the IPCC Reports Mislead the Public, Exaggerate the Negative Impacts of Climate Change and Ignore the Benefits of Economic Growth

Study finds climate change panel ignores its own findings and pushes plans that will prolong poverty for developing nations

December 7, 2011

Los Angeles, CA (December 7, 2011) - By the year 2100, developing countries will be richer than the United States is today, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's worst-case temperature change scenario.  Moreover, the faster developing countries grow and the more emissions they produce, the wealthier they will be - even taking into account all the damage that is expected from climate changes caused by those emissions.

These surprising findings about developing countries and global warming are based on the very studies that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's own reports rely upon. But you wouldn't know it based on the IPCC's dire warnings. Instead of honestly explaining that people in the future will be better off regardless of climate change, the IPCC reports emphasize the potentially negative impacts of global warming while downplaying the benefits that come from economic growth and technological progress, a new Reason Foundation report finds. Worse yet, the Reason study shows that the IPCC recommends a course of action that its own set of global warming scenarios show would make developing countries poorer - both today and in the future.

With the current climate talks in Durban flailing, the new Reason Foundation study finds serious flaws and even contradictions in the climate change impacts reports and other studies used by governments to justify their involvement in those very climate talks.

The study by Indur M. Goklany, who has represented the United States at Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change negotiations in the past, details how studies on the impacts of climate change disregard the economic and technological advances that poor countries are expected to make - even under the IPCC's worst-case global warming scenario.

"Using the IPCC's own highest emission scenario, we show that by 2100 the Gross Domestic Product per capita of today's 'developing' countries will be double that of the U.S. in 2006, even taking into account any losses resulting from climate change. Thus developing countries will have significantly more resources and better technology to cope with climate change than even the U.S. does today," Goklany says. "But these advances in adaptive capacity and what they'll mean for our ability to cope with any potential warming are virtually ignored by the IPCC when it assesses the possible impact of global warming."

The study outlines three approaches to tackling climate change: cutting emissions of greenhouse gases; focused adaptation; and economic growth. "The best strategy by far to combat climate change is economic growth," says Julian Morris, the study's project director and vice president at Reason Foundation. "Economic growth is the best way to eliminate poverty; meanwhile, the resulting wealth and technological advances  will enable people better to address all the problems they face, including any challenges that global warming may present."

Full Report Online

"Misled on Climate Change: How the UN IPCC (and others) Exaggerate the Impacts of Global Warming" is online here and here (.pdf).

Other recent Reason Foundation studies have shown that worldwide deaths caused by extreme weather events are the lowest they've been in more than a century and detailed how technology can combat climate change and ensure we have the food supply to feed the world's growing population. These reports are online at:

The Steep Decline in Deaths from Extreme Weather Events Since 1900

Reducing Poverty and Minimizing Climate Change's Impact Now That the World's Population Is Over 7 Billion

About Reason Foundation

Reason Foundation is a nonprofit think tank dedicated to advancing free minds and free markets. Reason Foundation produces respected public policy research on a variety of issues and publishes the critically acclaimed Reason magazine and its website, Reason.com. For more information, please visit Reason.org.

Contacts

Chris Mitchell, Director of Communications, Reason Foundation, (310) 367-6109



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