Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Asteroid impact model the best approach to climate change policy

By Tom Harris - posted Thursday, 23 November 2023

For two weeks starting on November 30th, we will be inundated with the avalanche of climate change alarmism that always accompanies the annual United Nations Climate Change Conferences. This year the event, officially called the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), will be held in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Leaders from across the world will tell us that we are in the midst of a climate emergency that threatens to destroy our civilization. We must therefore restructure our entire energy infrastructure to achieve net-zero emissions to "save the planet."


Yet, the 1,828 experts who endorsed the World Climate Declarationsay the opposite. They explained:

There is no climate emergency. Therefore, there is no cause for panic and alarm. We strongly oppose the harmful and unrealistic net-zero CO2 policy proposed for 2050.

To decide which position makes the most sense, and what, if any, greenhouse gas reduction policies are needed, we must determine some way to properly assess the risk of human-induced climate change. It is insufficient to simply say that the consequences of catastrophic climate change would be so dreadful that any and all actions to prevent it are justified. We must also account for the probability of such events occurring in the foreseeable future.

We conduct risk assessment all the time, of course. When we go outside, we risk being hit by a falling tree, a truck or lightning, events that would obviously be personally catastrophic if they actually happened. But we conclude that, if normal safety precautions are taken, the chances of these things occurring is so low that we have no hesitation about leaving our house.

The same approach should apply to public policy formulation. If risk assessment only entailed responding to possible outcomes, then our governments would be building an asteroid defense system. After all, a large asteroid impact could destroy life on Earth and perhaps even shatter the planet itself, a far worse outcome than even the most extreme climate change forecasts.

But governments conclude that the probability of a such an impact in the foreseeable future is too small to justify spending trillions of dollars on the issue. So, while we should continue to watch the skies for possible threats from space, we dedicate the majority our money and attention to dealing with known, immediate problems such as crime, terrorism and local pollution.


Planning for the possibility of catastrophic human-caused climate change is similar, or at least it should be. Here's why:

The amount of climate change that is due to human activity (i.e., that which is "anthropogenic") must have been very small to date. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that surface temperature, averaged over all land and ocean surfaces, rose only about 1.2 degree Celsius between 1880 and today.

That rate of change is so low that no one would even notice it in their entire lifetime.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

7 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Tom Harris is an Ottawa-based mechanical engineer and Executive Director of the International Climate Science Coalition.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Tom Harris

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 7 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy