John Kerry’s Claim Climate Change Kills 15 Million A Year Draws Ethics Complaint

A government watchdog filed a formal complaint against Climate Czar John Kerry for claiming 15 million people die every year from greenhouse gas emissions, saying there’s no scientific basis for the statement.

June 23, 20235 min read

John Kerry, President Joe Biden's special envoy for climate.
John Kerry, President Joe Biden's special envoy for climate. (Getty Images)

A government watchdog filed a formal ethics complaint this week over the scientific integrity of statements made by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry. 

The Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate hosted a summit in May, and Kerry gave a speech at the event where he stressed the urgency for reaching net-zero emissions in the agriculture sector. In support of this policy position, Kerry claimed that 15 million people are dying every single year as a consequence of greenhouse gas emissions.

According to Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT), a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that aims to promote ethics in government and restore the public’s trust in government officials, the statement has no scientific basis.  

Hysterical Claims 

The statement violates rules set forth in a memorandum by President Joe Biden, according to the group and it filed an ethics complaint with the Department of State and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.   

“We request an immediate investigation into whether Mr. Kerry’s claim violates the Biden Administration’s scientific integrity policies and what the appropriate remedial action should be to adequately correct the public record and deter similar hysterical claims in the future,” PPT stated in its complaint.  

The complaint warned that when the public loses trust in officials’ scientific claims, people will ignore or disregard even the most logical, scientifically grounded, evidence-based directives.  

Left’s Playbook 

Wyoming State Rep. Cyrus Western, R-Big Horn, told Cowboy State Daily that Kerry’s remarks are “another page out of the left’s playbook.”  

“The more radical the language they can use, the more extreme policy they feel they can get away with,” Western said.  

Western said that these statements are made to push policies that shut down coal plants before their retirement age, which threatens the reliability of the electricity grid and drives up energy costs.  

Western said that proponents of these policies will continue to use drastic statements to get support for their agenda.  

Sheer Audacity  

According to the public trust group, research and predictions on deaths caused by climate change don’t reflect Kerry’s estimate — not even close.

“Even the most generous and far-reaching journey through academic literature leaves one empty-handed,” the group’s complaint stated.  

The most dire estimations place a figure of deaths from climate change, at 3.4 million per year by the end of the century, according to the group which noted this is a prediction on future outcomes based on certain assumptions that may or may not come true.  This is not a statement of current fact.  

“The sheer audacity of the statement, repeated twice in Mr. Kerry’s speech, is shocking both on its face and in its comparison to well-established causes of death,” the group stated.  

The world’s biggest killer, according to the World Health Organization, is a specific type of heart disease, which claimed less than 9 million lives in 2019. That was followed by strokes, which caused 6 million deaths.  

The State Department did not return a request for comment from Cowboy State Daily. 

Not A Pollutant 

Dr. Matt Wielicki, a former assistant professor in the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Alabama, told Cowboy State Daily that, contrary to Kerry’s claims, carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, from a strictly scientific and atmospheric perspective.  

Wielicki, who has a Ph.D. in geochemistry from the University of California – Los Angeles and has authored and co-authored more than a dozen peer-reviewed studies in the field of geology, explained in a substack article that carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring component of the Earth’s atmosphere and plays a vital role in the planet’s carbon cycle.  

There are several air pollutants, including particulate matter, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and lead. These can impact human health and their reduction, Wielicki said, can be very beneficial to human health. 

However, across most nations, Wielicki said, the countries with the highest cumulative greenhouse gas emissions also have the cleanest air, while countries with the lowest cumulative greenhouse gas emissions tend to have the dirtiest.  

“It's the nations that are relying on non-fossil fuel energy sources — primarily biomass and dung, essentially, for cooking and heating — they have the highest rates of air pollution,” Wielicki said.  

These dirtier fuels are terrible for indoor air pollution, Wielicki said, which is far worse for health than outdoor air pollution.  

Wielicki agreed that Kerry’s claim has no scientific basis, and Kerry, he said, has been a vocal opponent of denying developing nations, particularly those in Africa, access to fossil fuel development opportunities. This effectively has the impact of preventing the nation’s poorest populations from cleaning up their air.  

“He can bend facts all he wants, but he’s making a statement that’s exactly the opposite of the truth,” Wielicki said.

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