2020 Talking Points on the So-Called Climate Crisis

By Alex Epstein

While climate catastrophists claim that our climate is less livable than ever because of fossil fuels, it is actually more livable than ever thanks to our fossil fuel powered climate protection systems. Rising CO2 levels will cause mild, manageable warming as well as significant global greening--not a crisis.

Quick summary

  1. When you hear scary claims about a “climate crisis,” keep in mind that climate catastrophists have been claiming climate crisis for 40 years. For example, Obama science advisor John Holdren predicted in the 1980s that we’d have up to 1 billion climate deaths today.1
  2. After 40 years of “climate crisis” predictions by climate catastrophists, human beings are safer than ever from climate. The climate death rate has decreased by *98%* over the last century.2
  3. Fossil fuels were supposed to make climate far more dangerous in the last 40 years but they have actually made it far safer by providing low-cost power for the amazing machines that protect us against storms, protect us against extreme temperatures, and alleviate drought.3
  4. Fossil fuels' CO2 emissions have contributed to the warming of the last 170 years, but that warming has been mild and manageable—1 degree Celsius, mostly in the colder parts of the world.4
  5. Fossil fuels' CO2 emissions have not only contributed to mild and manageable warming, they have also caused the benefit of significant global greening. Thanks to fossil fuels the Earth is far greener than it was just 40 years ago.5
  6. If the world continues using fossil fuels to provide reliable, low-cost energy to billions of people, the result will not be a climate crisis but continued manageable warming, significant greening, and a far better life for billions of people.
  7. If America tries to rapidly eliminate fossil fuel use through a Green New Deal or Biden Climate Plan we will not prevent a crisis, we will cause a crisis by making energy completely unreliable and unaffordable for American industry and American consumers.


  1. “As University of California physicist John Holdren has said, it is possible that carbon-dioxide climate-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020.” -Paul Ehrlich, The Machinery of Nature (1986), p. 27

  2. For every million people on earth, annual deaths from climate-related causes (extreme temperature, drought, flood, storms, wildfires) declined 98%--from an average of 247 per year during the 1920s to 2.5 in per year during the 2010s.

    Data on disaster deaths come from EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain, Brussels, Belgium – www.emdat.be (D. Guha-Sapir).

    Population estimates for the 1920s from the Maddison Database 2010 come from the Groningen Growth and Development Centre, Faculty of Economics and Business at University of Groningen. For years not shown population is assumed to have grown at a steady rate.

    Population estimates for the 2010s come from World Bank Data.

  3. Using the average world population in the 1980s (4.8 billion) and the 2010s (7.3 billion) and the average deaths per year from all meteorological, hydrological, and climatological disasters for both decades (66,697 and 18,342 respectively), the annual deaths rates per one million people from climate-related disasters has declined by over 80% from 13.8 to 2.5.

    Disaster deaths from EM-DAT, CRED / UCLouvain, Brussels, Belgium – www.emdat.be (D. Guha-Sapir).

    Population estimates from World Bank Data.

  4. The decadally smoothed data from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4 dataset (column 1 contains the year, column 2 the decadally smoothed temperature anomaly data in °C) shows an increase of 0.974°C between 1850 and 2019.

    It also shows a warming of 0.275°C between 1850 and 1945, before atmospheric CO2 concentrations really took off.

  5. Regional trends vary, but overall the world's leaf area increased by 5.4 million square kilometers, or an amazon rainforest worth of greening, between 2000 and 2017 alone with over 1/3 of vegetated land showing an increase while only 5% showed a loss of green vegetation.

    “Long-term satellite records reveal a significant global greening of vegetated areas since the 1980s, which recent data suggest has continued past 2010.

    Global vegetation models suggest that CO2 fertilization is the main driver of global vegetation greening.” - Piao, S., Wang, X., Park, T. et al. Characteristics, drivers and feedbacks of global greening. Nat Rev Earth Environ 1, 14–27 (2020).