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Extreme weather claims 'overstated', wildfires not actually increasing: BC think tank

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Claims that extreme weather events are becoming worse and more frequent are largely “exaggerated,” says a report from a British Columbia think tank.

According to Kenneth P. Green of the Fraser Institute, while media and political activists have claimed that “the evidence of increasing damage from increasing extreme weather is strong, it is far from conclusive.”

“Claims about extreme weather should not be used as a basis for establishing long-term regulatory regimes that will harm Canada's current living standards and leave future generations worse off,” Green said in a summary of his report.

He added: “Based on such claims, governments are imposing increasingly restrictive regulations on Canadian consumers of energy products and, in particular, on the Canadian energy sector. These regulations impose significant costs on the Canadian economy and may place downward pressure on Canadians’ living standards.”

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<p dir=Green said that, contrary to the claims of many activists, “many types” of weather events “show no signs of increasing,” while some are actually decreasing.

“Drought and floods have not shown a clear trend of increase,” he said. “The intensity and number of hurricanes do not show an increasing trend.

“Globally, there is no clear trend in wildfires increasing in number or intensity, while in Canada the number of wildfires and the area claimed from the 1950s to the present have actually declined.”

However, the BC Wildfire Service said in December that the 2023 fire season would be the most destructive in the province's history.

In his report, Green cites – and contradicts – the claims of broadcaster David Suzuki, politician Al Gore, left-wing activist Greta Thunberg and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

And while he agrees that extreme temperatures are increasing worldwide, he emphasizes that the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has less confidence in other extreme weather events such as wildfires, droughts and floods.

“There is only moderate confidence that many extreme weather phenomena have increased since 1950,” his report concludes.

“Other claims of observing extreme weather changes since 1950 are given even less confidence by the IPCC.”

He adds: “While there is good evidence that the Earth's atmosphere is warming moderately and that there are some consequences of this that humanity will have to deal with, the evidence for larger climate threats is overstated.”

When the IPCC released its sixth assessment report on climate change in 2021, Guterres said it was an “alarm for humanity.”

He later said countries that increase their fossil fuel production are “really dangerous radicals.”

Earlier this month, meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he wanted to ensure young people “are confident that the world won't be on fire when they grow up and raise their own children,” referring to climate change.

You can read Green's full report here.