Competitive Enterprise Institute: global warming no worry because people ‘adapt’

The Competitive Enterprise Institute produced a new documentary on climate change and released it this week in a series of brief segments on YouTube. The documentary promises “The Truth About Global Warming,” but the first segment gets right down to the business of deception.
The first video, titled “Heat Waves,” reports reliably that temperatures have risen in U.S. cities in the last 35 years, but that heat-related deaths have declined. That’s true. Then the video quotes Patrick J. Michaels of the conservative CATO Institute saying, “The more frequent heat waves are, the fewer people die. That’s because they adapt.”
They sure do. They adapt by turning on their air conditioners. Heat-related deaths have declined in U.S. cities since the early 1970s largely because more people have air conditioners, and secondarily because cities do a better job of finding and cooling off people who don’t. How do we know that? From a study conducted in 2003 at the University of Virginia by none other than Patrick J. Michaels and three of his colleagues. That study concludes:
This systematic desensitization of the metropolitan populace to high heat and humidity over time can be attributed to a suite of technologic, infrastructural, and biophysical adaptations, including increased availability of air conditioning.
But neither Michaels nor CEI mention air conditioning, technology, or infrastructure in the video. Instead, they suggest global warming is nothing to worry about because people “adapt” to heat.
If people adapt to heat by buying air conditioners, it will certainly stimulate the market for air conditioners, and that would promote competition and enterprise. Elsewhere in the video, the Competitive Enterprise Institute argues that the best solution to global warming in developing countries is “rapid economic growth.” Certainly, rapid economic growth would enable more people to buy air conditioners while a warming planet makes them increasingly attractive.
But many of those potential customers won’t have water to drink. Heat-related mortality is only one of a suite of consequences of global warming. Try using an air conditioner to stop flooding in coastal cities, drought in the Colorado River Basin, the collapse of agriculture or habitat destruction across the globe.
In his first interview as Energy Secretary, Steven Chu said, “I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen. We’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California. I don’t actually see how they can keep their cities going” either.
What happens if you turn on an air conditioner after your city falls apart? Trust the Competitive Enterprise Institute and we may find out. The video:
[youtubevid id=”w6dlGpDXkb8″]

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