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Bjorn Lomborg

Get the facts straight

Examining the Latest False Alarm on Climate

2019-05-30

You’ve probably seen the latest alarming headlines: Rising sea levels from climate change could flood 187 million people out of their homes. Don’t believe it. That figure is unrealistic—and it isn’t even new. It appears in a new scholarly paper, whose authors plucked it from a paper published in 2011. And what the earlier paper actually found was that 187 million could be forced to move in the unlikely event that no one does anything in the next 80 years to adapt to dramatic rises in sea level.

In real life, the 2011 paper explained, humans “adapt proactively,” and “such adaptation can greatly reduce the possible impacts.” That means “the problem of environmental refugees almost disappears.” Realistic assumptions reduce the number to between 41,000 and 305,000—at most, less than 1/600th of the figure in those headlines.