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How Much Climate-Change Denial Can the Market Bear?

Shane Smith responds to an unscientific “analysis” of the VICE on HBO segment, “Greenland is Melting.”

I generally like Forbes. The people there provide a good platform for high-quality content, and they have written many nice things about us.

I was therefore surprised to read this piece of garbage by John Tamny, which Forbes published this weekend. In response to my recently-aired story about Greenland's melting glaciers, Tamny calls me a global-warming "alarmist" and asks if I will be seeking refuge from rising sea levels in Dallas, Texas.


Ironically, the front page of this morning's New York Times features the prominent headline, "Panel's Warning on Climate Risk: Worst Is Yet to Come." A similar article in today's Wall Street Journal is headlined, "Climate Change Impact Is Wide, UN Says. Scientists Call for Swift Action on Greenhouse Gas Emissions."

They are both referring to the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The IPCC's report, released on Monday, was the result of the efforts of 309 scientists from 70 countries who drew on more than 12,000 research papers. In its own article, The Guardian called it "the most comprehensive picture of climate risks to date."

Rajendra Pachauri, the panel's chairman, said in a press conference that he hoped the IPCC's report would "jolt people into action." The report links climate change to a worldwide rise in wildfires, drought, and flooding.

"We are now in an era where climate change isn't some kind of future hypothetical," The Guardian quotes the report's leading author, Chris Field, as saying. "We live in an area where impacts from climate change are already widespread and consequential."

Climate change will drown world heritage sites. Read more here.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry issued a forceful statement in which he declared, "Unless we act dramatically and quickly, science tells us our climate and our way of life are literally in jeopardy. Denial of the science is malpractice."


Tamny writes that his own "analysis" is "wholly free of science, as I'm not a scientist" — but not before he questions the impact of Greenland's ice erosion on global sea levels by likening it, perplexingly, to an ice cube melting in a cup of water. He must have missed the publication of a report earlier this month in the journal Nature Climate Change that found a significant loss of ice in Greenland's northeast, which was long thought to be stable.

"The Greenland ice sheet has been one of the largest contributors to global sea-level rise over the past 20 years," the authors noted. They believe that projections of a global sea-level rise are underestimated because they have failed to account this surprising increase.

Rather than science, Tamny prefers "market signals" that he says "reflect a catastrophe-free future that supports the view of global-warming 'deniers.' "

Did the markets predict Hurricane Katrina? ($125 billion in damages/costs)

Did they predict Hurricane Sandy? ($71 billion in damages/costs)

How about the Fukushima disaster? ($58 billion clean-up)

Typhoon Haiyan? (7,500 dead or missing and $12.5 billion in cleanup costs)

The drought in California? ($5 billion estimated loss in 2014 revenue alone)


Market analysts anticipated none of these because their focus is the economy, NOT the environment. Those guys are looking to make money, while scientists are overwhelmingly in agreement that not only is global warming happening, but that the worst is yet to come.


That's what makes Tamny's piece particularly insidious, because he's not just sticking his head in the sand, which would be bad enough, but he is actually arguing that global warming is not happening because rich people are buying houses on the coast. He is using Forbes as a platform to spew nonsensical gibberish.

And what timing! The world is being called to action on climate change, and Forbes is denying that it is even happening. Why? Apparently because, according to Tamny, Warren Buffett said so.

(Actually, it appears Buffett's views are more nuanced than Tamny would have you believe.)

In answer to your question, Mr. Tamny, I'll not be moving to Texas — a state that suffered the worst drought in its history in 2011. Farmers there are likening conditions this year to the Dust Bowl.

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Chevron started a newspaper to mask its safety abuse record. Read more here.

Artificial light is now harming rain forests. Read more here.