When the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its highly anticipated report on global warming in early August, U.N Secretary-General António Guterres declared it "a code red for humanity," insisting that "the alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil-fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk."
Guterres' "code red" language was echoed by many reporters and activists, some of whom called humanity "guilty as hell" of "climate crimes." Others prophesied that the climate news was only going to get worse and that we faced a choice of immediately passing the Green New Deal or death.
Roger Pielke Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, thinks such reactions are not only wrong but "irresponsible." Pielke believes that temperatures are rising in response to human activity, but he also argues that the alarmism dominating the climate discussion is counterproductive. "Nowhere does the IPCC report say that billions of people are at immediate risk," he says, stressing the gap between what's actually in the report and the highly politicized way we discuss climate change.
Reason's Nick Gillespie talked with Pielke about why apocalyptic scenarios about temperature change are at odds with trends in energy use, how the planet is actually getting more hospitable to human life, and how ongoing incremental improvements in energy technologies will almost certainly lead to a brighter, cleaner future for all.
Narrated by Nick Gillespie, edited by John Osterhoudt and Ian Keyser