Back in December 2020, New Zealand declared a climate emergency. Lots of other Western governments had already beaten us to it and decided things were so bad, climate-wise, that a new level of alarm was required to shake the public out of their stupor and make us appreciate the grave danger we are all in. The fact NZ waited so long before joining the club suggests that we were somehow sheltered from the worst effects of the climate crisis but now it was starting to hit home.
Most members of the public who watch the weather forecast, then step outside to see what’s really happening that day, would have been forgiven for wondering what all the fuss was about. Things seemed just the same as last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. There are certainly no signs of apocalyptic changes brewing in our atmosphere.
Anyway, what do we know? There must be lots of bad stuff happening in the background which is set to hit us next year, otherwise why would all these scientists and politicians be getting so worried. The media are certainly on board, bombarding us with claims of worsening weather patterns and extreme weather events. Surely, the comprehensive climate data collected over the past century would support the alarmist narrative and clearly demonstrate the imminent calamity.
Mmmm...it appears not! 
“Cyclones are more frequent and more intense” - since 1900 there has been a slight decreasing trend in the total number of hurricanes hitting the US, and no increased trend in the number of major hurricanes. Other areas of the world also show no increasing trend in frequency or intensity of cyclones.
“Tornadoes are more frequent and more intense” - the frequency of severe (F3) and devastating (F4 & F5) US tornadoes has declined since 1950, with the most intense period being 1950-1975, which happens to coincide with a slight cooling in the global temperature.
“Devastating floods are increasing” - Global warming should increase precipitation and it has. However, there has been no evidence of increased flooding. In fact, data shows that hazardous floods have decreased. The reason for this is uncertain but the bottom line is that floods are certainly no worse than they were.
“Extreme droughts are increasing” - overall, there is a downward trend in drought frequency, which should not be surprising with an overall increase in global precipitation. You can’t have it both ways, it seems.
“Extreme weather events (EWE) are killing more people” - Since the 1920’s, global death rates from EWE’s have declined by 98.9%, despite the world’s population more than tripling. Between 2010-18, only 0.035% of all-cause deaths were from EWE’s.
“More people are dying from extreme heat” - deaths from abnormal cold are 17 times more common than deaths from abnormal heat, and even in hot countries like India are 14 times more common. So the planet warming up a little is good for mortality rates.
“Wildfires are more common and intense” - in the US, 4-5 times the land area was burned between 1920 - 1960, peaking in the 1930’s, compared to today's levels. The 1930’s also saw the worst heat waves in the US over the past century. Area burned has increased since the late 1990’s, compared to the 1960’s onwards, but this is likely due to lack of forestry management in several countries, driven by the green movement who have promoted leaving forests to regenerate naturally. That is of course what happened in the first half of the 20th century with devastating results. Aborigines and other indigenous peoples know the value of controlled burns and have long practised this to mitigate much worse wildfires.
“Humans will starve as crops fail” - the exact opposite has happened! Since 1960, global cereal yields have tripled and food supplies per capita have increased by 31%.
“Sea level will rise, inundating coastal areas and submerging islands” - Sea level has been largely rising since the start of our current interglacial, about 14,000 years ago. In total it has risen about 120m and has been up to 2m higher than today’s level. Virtually all of that rise was prior to the use of fossil fuels; since then there have been only modest increases of about 3mm/year.
A study of the world’s beaches shows that 24% are eroding, 28% are growing and 48% are stable. Even more sand for the kids to play with than we had before!
Even islands in the Pacific and Indian Oceans appear to be surviving the onslaught remarkably well, with almost 90% stable or increasing in area. Considering most oceanic islands are old volcanoes which sink with age as the crust they sit on cools, that would appear to poke a stick in the eye of a climate emergency. Good to know that when Covid ends, if it ends, we can still book that family trip to our favourite island resort and know that our beachside vale will still be there.
In addition, there is no evidence of increased disease; life expectancy continues to increase and the global poverty rate continues to fall. So what’s going on here?
Could our political masters be trying to manipulate us into accepting their demands for massive changes to our economies and lifestyles by using a scare tactic that just doesn’t match reality? If so, it has to be the biggest con-trick ever attempted, and on a global scale too.
When our own Climate Change Commission released its final report a couple of weeks back, Jacinda declared that climate change was a matter of “life or death”. Really! Maybe the recent whiff of Hollywood fame has made our PM think she’s starring in a blockbuster disaster movie. She’s certainly over-playing her part and is in dire need of some acting lessons.
Like most Hollywood scripts, our current climate emergency shows scant regard for the facts...which, of course, should never be allowed to get in the way of a good story!
 Indur M Goklany: Impacts of Climate Change: Perception and Reality 2021, The Global Warming Policy Foundation
Derek Mackie is a geologist with a keen interest in current affairs.