CNN Says Fossil Fuels Kill More People Each Year Than The Holocaust. Here’s The Truth
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 08: Brian Stelter attends CNN Heroes at the American Museum of Natural History on December 08, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for WarnerMedia)
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for WarnerMedia

“Reliable Sources,” the CNN show dedicated to critiquing media misinformation, falsely claimed that the death toll from burning fossil fuels kills 10 million people a year, “larger than the Holocaust.” To help combat this alleged epidemic, a fellow guest added, reporters should not bypass scientists and simply report that the world’s extreme heat is an “injustice” caused by a 40-year conspiracy of the oil companies.

Brian Stelter, who once asked White House spokesperson Jen Psaki how to best cover the White House, asked two climate alarmists to tell him how to cover environmental issues on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources.”

After another guest said that “everyone should be a climate reporter,” Stelter asked New York Magazine editor-at-large David Wallace-Wells, “What does it mean, David, to be a climate reporter?”

Wallace-Wells replied that it means seeing “that climate is threaded through every aspect of our lives, at the very highest level through the geopolitics and competition of nations … not to mention their physical health.”

“Today, best estimates suggest that air pollution from the burning of fossil fuels kills about 10 million people every year, which is dying at the scale of the Holocaust — in fact, larger than the Holocaust, every single year,” Wallace-Wells, the author of The Uninhabitable Earth, added. “And yet, we don’t see many public health stories, we don’t see many moral crises stories addressed to that issue.”

While there is no moral equivalence between releasing fine particulate matter through the generation of energy and the deliberate gassing of 6 million Jews by the Nazi regime, unfortunately for Wallace-Wells, the estimate of 10 million climate-related deaths a year is fallacious, according to the study’s authors.

The World Health Organization previously estimated that 7 million people died from all forms of air pollution, not merely fossil fuels. But in April, Harvard researchers using a computer model known as GEOS-Chem published a study in the journal Environmental Research which more than doubled that number. But the authors noted that, while the model’s original estimate of fossil fuel deaths came in at 10.2 million, that figure “predates substantial decline in fossil fuel emissions” from China, “bringing the global total to 8.7 million.”

Even though they used a radically different threshold to link fossil fuels to deaths, the study found 5.4 million of those deaths took place in China and India. Wallace-Wells simply stuck to the highest possible estimate.

He also ignored how fossil fuels save millions of lives a year by giving people access to clean cooking, which reduces air pollution from charcoal and wood emissions. “Every year, almost four million people die from household air pollution, which is mostly coming from cooking,” according to Forbes. That does not take into account fossil fuels’ other lifesaving applications.

Stelter should have been on guard; climate scientists have criticized Wallace-Wells’ history of making “erroneous statements” and relying on inaccurate data. His best-known work on the subject, The Uninhabitable Earth, claims that climate change will destroy human life on the planet by the end of the century. “It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today,” he wrote.

His “doomist framing” cannot be supported by the science, according to Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric science at Pennsylvania State University. After noting numerous factual errors with the original article that formed the basis of the book, Mann said Wallace-Wells had done nothing but “overstate the evidence, particularly when it feeds a paralyzing narrative of doom and hopelessness.” Bjorn Lomborg wrote a book-length refutation, noting how human beings could avoid most of the catastrophes Wallace-Wells predicts with existing technology.

Stelter, who prides himself on sticking with facts over narrative, then turned to Emily Atkin, the founder of HEATED, which bills itself as “a newsletter for people who are pissed off about the climate crisis.”

Atkin said that journalists who are reporting on extreme weather, like the heat in the Pacific Northwest last week, do not need to establish whether climate change played a role. They can simply assure their readers that it did — and blame it on greedy oil executives.

“It’s not an excuse that you need to talk to a climate scientist anymore to include something in your story that says, ‘This extreme heat event was made more likely by climate change,’” Atkin said. “And what I would also argue is that you should probably have a sentence in there saying, ‘Climate change is caused by fossil fuels,’ because climate change is not something that’s happening to us; it’s something that’s being done to us.”

“It is injustice due to a 40-year campaign to lie and prioritize short-term profit over the health of vulnerable people. So, those are just basic facts.”

Stelter labeled the story of climate change “a corruption story.”

“That makes it sexy, to be honest,” said Atkin. “It makes it a good story to tell.”

But that does not necessarily transform the narrative into an accurate story that serves its readers, rather than political ideologues pushing an extreme Green agenda.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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