The End of the World

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

Did you see that Simon Stiell, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, told an audience in London: “We have two years to save the world.”  I didn't and am grateful to Dominic Lawson in  The Times for making me splutter into my museli when I read it.

Seriously?  How can someone in such a responsible position come up with such gibberish?  Does he believe it, is he just trying to frighten the rest of us, or does he feel that such visions are expected of him?  Maybe all those or more.  But he's not a climate expert; he's an engineer with an MBA.  As Lawson rightly notes, such apocalyptic warnings never come from experts involved, and none of the IPCC reports have warned of human or planetary extinction through our emissions.  

But why did I splutter when I'm so used to this sort of anti-Millennialism from climate cults leaders?  Al Gore used to do it.  Greta T was adept at it before she discovered intersectionality. The Prince of Wales (now King Charles) did it all the time.  None has any relevant credentials, but people still fell at their feet in awe and wonder at their very insightful insights. The Prince warned in March 2009 that only 100 months remained to avert “irretrievable climate collapse” and in October 2021 he told COP leaders that they were in the last-chance saloon; again, obviously.  Only they weren't and we're not.

Lawson points to a 2021 paper for the International Journal of Global Warming by Rode and Fischbeck of Carnegie Mellon University: “Apocalypse now? Communicating extreme forecasts”.  This contained a graph plotting such forecasts, their advocates and the due date.  I recommend it.

He also cites Professor Mike Hulme, founder of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia.  In 2006 Hulme noted that the increasing use of catastrophe rhetoric had altered the public discourse such that it was now characterised by doom laden phraseology.  In his book Climate Change Isn’t Everything: liberating climate politics from alarmism, he wrote:

“Climate kills and climate change is real … [but] climate change is not like a comet approaching Earth.  There is no good historical evidence that it will lead to human extinction or the collapse of human civilisation … climate is not and never has been static.  It is a changing condition to which all life continually adapts as a natural response.  Human societies continually adapt.”

And he observed that such scaremongering has led to “panic, fear and disengagement among people as ‘the end’ is imagined to be approaching”.   Clearly all this despair mongering has gotten through to young people especially, many of whom seem to live in terror of what they think is coming.  Teachers and schools take note; it's not too late to find a better balance in your messaging.  Although we face one of humanity's greatest ever challenges, it's not necessarily existential, given that we are rightly seized of the problem.

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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  • Catastrophe alarmism is a media tool used to drive a mindset that benefits the people spreading the alarm. Many may be doing so with the best of intentions - noting the rest of the road to somewhere associated with this quote - but rarely messaging how best we might adapt and thrive within changing conditions we cannot avoid by simply using technology and political power to maintain a system which created the problems in the first place.