There is a direct line of correlated causal factors and related responses. Apocalyptic-scale alarms incite survival fear in populations. Exaggerated fear leads to irrational acceptance of mythical apocalyptic scenarios and embrace of related harmful salvation schemes. The feature of “imminence” in apocalyptic scenarios, with dates repeatedly set just years or decades ahead, heightens fear and pushes populations to abandon democratic processes and embrace totalitarian solutions. Nothing is too crazy when you are told that you must help “save the world”… or else.
More re site Project: Countering fear, exaggerated and unnecessary fear, notably, the fear some great metaphysical threat behind life, most commonly expressed through myths like apocalypse.
There is an ultimate meaning issue behind much human fear over history. It has to do with how early people, moved by their primary impulse for meaning, understood reality and life and explained that via their myths (systems of belief/meaning). The ancients struggled to understand and explain the obvious imperfections of the world (natural disasters, disease, animal predation and human cruelty) and the consequent suffering from that imperfection. Their solution was the creation of a complex of ideas that have continued to shape human understanding into the present in both religious and “secular” versions. And many of these primitive themes continue to incite unnecessary alarm in populations.
The central theme of early human narratives, the single most prominent pathology that has dominated human consciousness across history, has been the myth of some greater punitive, destroying Force or Spirit that punishes humanity through the natural world. This anti-human myth has deformed human consciousness with fear, anxiety, shame/guilt, and despair.
Bette Midler (Feb. 2021) offered a recent example of this still common belief in divine retaliation through nature- https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/bette-midler-texas-outages-god-punishing-ted-cruz-john-cornyn. She may have been joking somewhat, with only a smidgeon of truthiness, but her comment voiced, once again, the oldest and most destructive religious belief in our history- that of angry, vengeful gods punishing imperfect humanity.
The associated myth of “fallen humanity” validates the idea of vengeful, punitive deity. Humanity is basically corrupt/sinful and therefore deserves punishment and destruction (people love to apply these ideas to their “enemies”). Note these themes, for example, in Sumerian and biblical flood myths where early people claimed the gods were punishing bad people. These myths of destroying deity punishing ‘bad to the bone’ humanity continue today in so-called “secular” versions- i.e. vengeful Gaia, pissed Mother Earth, angry Planet, or karma, all punishing the “virus or cancer” on the planet that is corrupt and greedy humanity.
Summary of earlier post- Probing the deeper roots of alarmism eruptions
The great narratives of humanity across history have always embraced the same basic complex of ideas/themes. Again, one foundational idea undergirds most human belief systems- that of some punitive, destroying Force or Spirit (deity) that would mete out final justice and ultimately put all things right in the cosmos (reward the good, punish the bad).
That core idea has long been supported by a larger complex of related ideas- that we humans deserve to be punished because we are bad to the bone and we have ruined the original paradise, the originally perfect world that God created. We have sent life into decline toward something worse, toward disaster and ending. Therefore, we deserve judgment and punitive justice as payback for our sins. What is the judgment? A great apocalyptic destruction and ending of the world. Our salvation or solution? We must make a sacrifice to appease the upset deity, and we must purge the evil that we have created in this world. Then we may be saved, and paradise can be restored, notably for the true believers of the angry deity, the true believers of the apocalyptic narrative.
Science has helped to overturn the old Fall/decline/apocalypse narratives. We know that there was no original paradise. To the contrary, life on Earth began in a brutally hostile environment but has improved across the entire trajectory of this planet. Life is not declining toward a disastrous ending but continues to rise and improve over the long term. So also, we humans have developed and improved immensely over the history of human civilization, with declining rates of homicide as a main indicator. Our becoming something better across time counters the essential anti-humanism of the old narratives- that we fell from some better past state (i.e. original noble savages) to become something worse in the present. Our history shows that we are fundamentally good and we have continued to improve across history.
Further, the improvement of life is via ‘gradualism’ and not through the coercive purging schemes of apocalyptic alarmists, schemes that push for “instantaneous transformation of life”. See Arthur Mendel’s ‘Vision and Violence’ for detail. These elements of ideologies take us into the realm of democracy versus totalitarianism issues.
The contradiction between Historical Jesus and Paul illustrates the main problem of the old mythical/religious narratives (i.e. the pathology of threat theology). The profound contradiction between the non-retaliatory theology of Jesus and the retaliatory God of Paul points to the basic issue- i.e. the wrong-headed theology that has long been the orienting center of the old narratives.
Note: I refer to Historical Jesus as someone quite opposite to the New Testament “Jesus Christ” where the “diamond” of Historical Jesus is buried under the “dung” of Paul’s Christ myth. And those are the terms used by Thomas Jefferson and Leo Tolstoy to communicate the stark difference between these two entities/persons.
The central issue or idea
Historical Jesus appears to have introduced a unique first in human history. He went directly to the root of the human problem. He overturned the central bad idea in the old mythical/religious narratives- the idea of a punitive, destroying Force or Spirit. He pointed to a new core reality that was only love and nothing but love- a scandalously and inexpressibly wondrous ‘no conditions’ love. His “stunning new theology” meant that there was no ultimate threat behind life. The deity that was love was all about universal inclusion, unlimited forgiveness, and unbounded generosity, mercy, and goodness. Toward everyone, whether good or bad.
Jesus presented this new theology of a non-retaliatory, non-punitive deity in his statement that “there should be no more eye for eye justice but instead we should love our enemies. Why? Because God does. How so? God gives the good gifts of life inclusively, indiscriminately to both good and bad people” (Matthew 5 and Luke 6). Conclusion? There was no threatening God behind the natural world. There was only unconditional love.
James Robinson was right that the “non-retaliatory deity” of Jesus was “his greatest contribution to the history of ideas”. That single insight blew all the God theories of the ancients right out of the water. Using another metaphor, the Jesus insight on theology went to the taproot of the primal human fear and severed that root entirely. All previous God theories (mythical/religious) had included these features in their deities- i.e. vengeance, exclusion of the bad, and ultimate justice as some form of payback punishment, including ultimate destruction.
Insert: Because Historical Jesus believed God was no conditions love, he could advocate for treating all others the same way- with unconditional love.
But Paul subsequently rejected that new theological discovery of Jesus and retreated to the same old foundational theme of all past narratives that the core Reality was retaliatory, punitive, and destructive (e.g. Romans 12: 17-20). He expressed that pathology of threat theology in his apocalyptic Christ myth- e.g. “Lord Jesus will return in flaming fire to punish and destroy all that do not believe my Christ myth” (see Thessalonian letters). Paul’s Christ myth shaped the rest of the New Testament and the branch of Christianity that has powerfully influenced our modern world.
Paul’s influential Christ myth then brought the old threat theology themes into Western consciousness and society. Paul’s Christ is most singularly responsible for the continuing dominance of the apocalyptic myth in our world, in both religious and secular versions (see, for example, “Paul and Jesus” by James Tabor). Modern secular materialists also embrace these primitive themes of punitive, destroying deity threatening a violent apocalypse. We see that primitivism in the diverse contemporary versions of threat theology- i.e. vengeful Gaia, angry Planet, pissed Mother Earth, retributive Universe, and payback karma.
The Jesus/Christ contradiction points to the core of the human problem- the lingering influence of the old narrative themes (i.e. threatening Force/Spirit behind life) still shaping human consciousness and life. Fortunately, the insight of the Historical Jesus (non-retaliatory deity) offers the liberating, humanizing potential for an entirely new narrative. See Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives below for more detail.
To solve the alarmism problem thoroughly and for the long-term future, it is necessary to include this ultimate meaning stuff (“human spirituality”) that science does not deal with.
Summary: A main project on this site is to counter the curse of alarmism and expose its historical roots in apocalyptic mythology (“The most destructive idea in history”, Arthur Mendel in Vision and Violence). Alarmists exaggerate legitimate problems in life out to apocalyptic-scale, thereby distorting the true state of any given problem. For example, alarmists view the mild climate warming over the past century (a roughly one-degree Centigrade average warming during an abnormally cold period on Earth) as portending a “climate crisis/catastrophe”, even the end of life or the end of the world, according to Congresswoman AOC and other alarmists. Father of global warming alarmism, James Hansen, stated in 2008, “Its all over in five years”. Al Gore has stated that we are currently living through the apocalypse of Revelation. https://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/Al-Gore-s-Apocalyptic-Environmentalism-2494868.php
That exaggerated alarmism, promoted with endless prophesies of the collapse of nature, looming destruction and death, then incites the primal survival impulse in populations. Agitated fear of survival then makes people susceptible to the salvation schemes of alarmists, schemes that have repeatedly caused far more harm than any original problem might have caused. “Decarbonization” is the current salvation scheme advocated by the fear-inciting prophets of apocalyptic environmentalism.
Another example: Rachel Carson, the mother of modern environmentalism, was undoubtedly a well-intentioned person and her concerns regarding chemicals were legitimate. It is important to properly understand chemicals, their potential impacts, how to handle them safely, and the right applications and limits of varied chemicals. But Carson ignored the available science during her time, particularly the science on the chemical DDT. That science showed that DDT did not harm wildlife and did not cause cancer in humans. But she chose to create an apocalyptic narrative in Silent Spring- using a shoddy alarmist presentation, and often arguing from anecdotal situations to make general conclusions that were not backed with good evidence. She influenced the subsequent ideological/political campaign that exaggerated the danger of DDT, and thereby discredited a highly beneficial chemical that had saved hundreds of millions of lives. Her message, and that of related environmental agencies, was a terrible misrepresentation of DDT.
Carson’s apocalyptic narrative in Silent Spring influenced the growing ban on DDT that subsequently resulted in millions of further deaths from malaria, and many of those were children (see details in ‘The Excellent Powder: the science and history of DDT’ by Tren and Roberts).
We are all responsible for the outcomes of the policies that we advocate and support.
Reflexive skepticism (not denial)
I am a reflexive skeptic of every new alarm that erupts into public consciousness- whether political/economic, disease related, or environmental alarms. There are problems all through life that are real and must be responsibly confronted and solved. But they are too often presented to the public in hysterical terms that incite unnecessary fear in populations. Fear then promotes irrationality and herd support for what have repeatedly turned out to be harmful salvationist schemes. If “we’re all gonna die” then no measure is too extreme, so shut down the world in order to save us from the apocalypse.
We have been through an endless series of alarms just over the past 70 years that more rational follow-up evaluation has repeatedly exposed as exaggerated scenarios. Most of the alarms turned out to be lesser-scale problems than what has been portrayed by alarmists. The media have justifiably discredited themselves with the public for presenting the alarms in “sky-is-falling” terms (“imminent crisis… looming catastrophe…. coming disaster” are favored media descriptions). Media unquestioningly parrot the alarmist scientists, politicians, and others that incite the panics.
Media obsession with alarmism narratives and exaggeration has been analyzed well by sociologist Dave Alteide in “Creating Fear: News and the construction of crisis”.
The list of exaggerated alarms:
There was the global cooling alarm of the 1970s. Then, prophesies of the end of minerals, oil, and resources in general. Also, ‘population bomb’ explosion and mass-death famines. Apocalyptic plagues from SARS, bird and swine flu, Ebola, AIDs, and mad cow disease. Environmental apocalypses in the form of the “disappearing lungs of the planet” (deforestation), species holocaust, soil erosion and the collapse of agriculture, ocean fisheries collapsing by 2048, ozone depletion, acid rain, chemical apocalypses (i.e. DDT and CFCs), and killer bees.
Then, technology-induced apocalypse via nuclear war, Artificial Intelligence, or Y2K. And climate catastrophes and end-of-life scenarios via warming, rising oceans, extreme storms, mass climate migration and wars, and the myriad other apocalyptic-scale outcomes attributed to climate change. As John Holdren, Obama’s science advisor, prophesied- one billion people would die by 2020. And so on…
What drives these alarmist eruptions that have too often become episodes of mass-hysteria?
When considering any problem in life, why do so many people instinctively lock onto worst-case scenarios and frame problems in terms of potential worst-case outcomes, often in the face of contrary evidence? With our extensive historical record of falling for exaggerated alarms, we should have learned by now to hold a healthy skepticism toward the alarmist presentations of any problem or issue.
We need to embrace Julian Simon’s good scientific approach that helps us to get to the true state of any problem/issue. Simon taught us to look at the complete big picture and the longest-term trends associated with any problem/issue. That will help, from the start, to restrain the tendency of many in science and media to exaggerate problems and incite irresponsible and destructive alarmism movements.
Alarmists have exhibited other troubling behaviors such as discrediting, dismissing, and even trying to outlaw skeptics to their alarmist scenarios. Remember Obama’s AG, Loretta Lynch, tried to criminalize skeptical climate science in 2016. Challenge an alarmist and you will quickly experience and understand “outrage culture” and “cancel culture” extremism.
Alarmists also exhibit what appears to be an anti-human zeal for an apocalyptic outcome, something that will ‘cull’ humanity- the “virus or cancer” on the planet.
Inciting fear in populations also unleashes the ugly tribal spirit- i.e. the mindset that we must fight some evil enemy that causes the imagined threat to life. The tribal spirit usually splits along ideological/political fault lines in our societies. Tribal fear also unleashes the totalitarian impulse to coerce and control “enemy” others in order to save something that is believed to be under threat. And if you can present the threat in the most extreme terms then that justifies arguing for more severe measures against your enemy, hence, satisfying the totalitarian impulse to dominate the other.
Note also the increasing desperation of alarmists to re-enforce their “end-of-world” narratives as skeptical scientists repeatedly prove their apocalyptic threats to be wildly overstated. Richard Landes details these patterns in apocalyptic-millennial movements in his excellent history- ‘Heaven On Earth’.
Most critical to watch in alarmist eruptions is the demand for “coercive purging” of some purported/imagined threat. Alarmists argue that because their manufactured threat is imminent and dire that affirms their calls for setting aside democratic processes and respect for freedom (i.e. “the end of the world is nigh”).
Unfortunately, follow-up scientific research does not calm or change the minds of many people who have embraced the alarmist’s narratives. Science by itself does not appear to change the minds of alarmists regarding their claims of looming apocalypse. This is because there are fundamental issues of meaning behind alarmist movements. Humanity has long embraced a set of ideas/myths to explain the meaning of life on this imperfect world. Part of thorough and long-term problem-solving must include dealing with those primitive ideas that have long embodied people’s “primal fears” and understanding of ultimate meaning issues. We are more than just rational actors oriented solely to the empirical, as valuable as that has been for understanding life.
For multiple millennia humanity has been indoctrinated with the apocalyptic complex of myths. No wonder then, that even today our initial response to problems in life is to believe that the worst is coming. Apocalyptic has become hardwired in human consciousness over the millennia. It still dominates our meta-narratives today, both religious and secular/ideological.
A lot of comment on this page deals with mythological/religious themes. Simply because, in the struggle against alarmism- the most destructive movement on the planet today- scientific evidence alone is not changing many minds. There are other factors at play, as Roy Spencer noted, https://www.drroyspencer.com/2019/11/climate-extremism-in-the-age-of-disinformation/
No disparagement here: Scientific evidence is critical to combat alarmism. But then there are those deeply rooted things, even subconsciously rooted things, things that incite primal human fears and lead people to instinctively embrace alarmist narratives/scenarios. I refer to things like the apocalyptic myth that has been deeply embedded in human conscious/subconscious for millennia and is all tangled with human emotion. People that appeal to apocalyptic scenarios incite primal human fears (survival fears) and that leads to the loss of rationality in populations.
The myth of apocalypse continues as a prominent theme in the world religions. It dominates Hollywood story-telling, both movies and TV. Note that the number of apocalyptic movies has increased over recent decades- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_apocalyptic_films. How does this correlate with the growing chorus (notably over the past 50-70 years) of prophesies from scientists, politicians, and Hollywood types that the end is nigh via diverse calamities like global cooling (1970s), resource exhaustion, population bomb and mass starvation, and most recently climate change?
Arthur Herman stated that the apocalyptic idea of decline “became the single most dominant and influential theme in culture and politics in the twentieth century” (The Idea of Decline). The ideology of Declinism emerged in the 19th Century as a new “secular” expression of primitive apocalyptic mythology. It has continued to pick up momentum over the past two centuries during the very time that industrial, technological civilization emerged as the greatest surge in human progress ever. The actual trajectory of modern life has been so entirely opposite to the declinist narrative.
Another indicator that apocalyptic dominates modern worldviews and deforms human consciousness: World surveys affirm that a majority of humanity believe the world is declining toward something worse (YouGov survey- in “10 Global Trends” by Bailey and Tupy).
The battle against alarmism must go to the deepest roots of the problem and deal with the ancient myths that still dominate human meta-narratives, consciousness, and subconscious.
Endless incitement of fear: John Kerry continues to promote fear over more mild warming in our abnormally cold ice-age era, affirming AOC’s end-of-days prophecy in 2018 that the end of the world would be in 2030. https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/539593-kerry-warns-the-us-has-9-years-to-avoid-worst-climate-consequences
Kerry’s alarmism is the latest in an endless litany of end-of-days prophesies (tipping points, last chances, final warnings, etc.) https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/08/23/the-guardian-gives-us-a-last-chance-to-heed-climate-warnings/
Apocalyptic is a difficult pathology to root out.
– Super-predator gods
– Human story in Campbell’s “Hero’s journey” framework
– Illustrating madness movements in Manoboland
– Indur Goklany- there is no climate emergency.
– Rethinking drugs and addiction.
– Madness movements.
– The paleo-climate big picture for understanding climate issues.
– A list of Alarmist claims versus facts.
– There is a logarithmic decline in the warming influence of CO2 with increasing atmospheric levels (overturns the alarm over rising CO2 levels).
– 18 prominent myths and alternatives in theology/spirituality (the larger mythical background of contemporary alarmism movements like environmental alarmism).
– “Both-sideism” or Independent status.
– Bill Maher and self-awareness
I suspect that many people continue to fear, even if at a subconscious level, the same monsters that most humans have feared across the millennia of our existence.
We have evolved from a past where fear of predators was a dominant daily reality and such fear was essential to our survival. With developing consciousness and the primal impulse for meaning, early people then projected their perception of predator threat out to the metaphysical realm. They created mythical super-predators in the form of spirits/gods/deities (see, for example, Alex Garcia’s “Alpha God”). They created ultimate predators- gods that were angry, retaliatory, and obsessed with punishing human imperfection. Those gods threatened to punish people’s sins through natural disasters, disease, and human or animal cruelty. Gods were viewed as the ultimate predators behind all such natural world phenomena.
Thus, the ancients created the monster of “threat theology”.
The ancients then further created a supporting complex of ideas to affirm their super-predator theology- what some have called the “apocalyptic millennial” complex of ideas. This complex includes the myth of a perfect beginning (original paradise). But, the mythological reasoning states, corrupt people ruined that paradise and sent life into decline toward something worse. Fallen humanity then deserved punishment and that would ultimately be an apocalyptic destruction of the world, followed by after-life harm as in the hell myth. However, people were given the hope of redemption if they would make a sacrifice to appease the angry deities, very much like offering a pacifying meal to the alpha predator. Further, the fallen world had to be purged of the evil and ruin that early humans had introduced in order to restore the lost original paradise (the element of millennial hope).
The cohering center of this complex of ideas was the myth of a super-predator God, a vengeful, punitive, and destroying deity. That core myth supports the full complex of related ideas.
The world religions eventually embraced the main themes of the above complex. The earliest mythologies (Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, Egyptian) already held these themes in a more scattered manner until Zoroastrianism framed them into a formal theology. Zoroastrianism then shaped the great Western religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam with these Fall/apocalypse/redemption/restored paradise themes. Eastern religions also have their own versions of the apocalyptic millennial myths. For example, Hinduism has great cycles of creation, rise, and then decline toward catastrophic ending.
Did our transition into the modern scientific age change things? Did we abandon the primitive mythologies of the ancient past? Not entirely. Religious people continued to straightforwardly embrace the apocalyptic millennial myths while more secular/materialist types embraced the very same themes in their modernized “secular” versions. Over the past few centuries of transition, mythological themes were given newer ideological and even scientific expression. Terms changed but the same old themes were still embraced.
And human fear of the super-predator deities continued. Many people today continue to fear the same super-predators of all past history, the deities of primitive minds. People like Nancy Pelosi have affirmed this continuation of primitive mythology with her comment last year (2020) that “Mother Earth is angry (with humanity)”. She voiced the common belief of many others.
We have simply created newer “secular” versions of threat theology gods to fear- deities like vengeful Gaia, angry Planet, pissed Mother Earth, retributive Universe, and payback karma. And these continue to center the full complex of primitive mythical themes. So yes, many still fear ultimate monsters behind life, super-predators.
Here again is the old apocalyptic millennial complex of myths in the modern environmental alarmism version: The past was better (original paradise). Humans in industrial civilization have ruined the original paradise world (the past wilderness world). Now life is declining toward something worse. Humanity deserves punishment and that will be in the form of an apocalyptic destruction of the world. But we can find redemption if we make a sacrifice to appease the angry deities. For example, we can sacrifice our good life in industrial society by decarbonizing. We can purge the world of the “evil” of fossil fuels and restore the lost paradise of the past.
The ongoing embrace of apocalyptic millennial mythology points to the real enemy and battle of life. It is a psychic battle as Carl Jung intimated. A battle with bad ideas that still dominate human consciousness and subconscious. And this is why I go after these primitive myths. Because frightened people, made desperate to survive by bad mythology like apocalyptic, are susceptible to salvation schemes that are horrifically destructive, such as the current plans to decarbonize our societies in order to “save the world”. This insanity is already battering the poorest people with rising energy/electricity costs and fuel poverty.
I would argue that we have long had the potent weapon to slay the ancient monster- the sword of unconditional (the stunning new theology of a no conditions deity). That single feature of unconditional overturns entirely the old mythology of retaliatory, punitive gods. Each of us has the weapon that we need to slay the monster of all monsters.
Interesting here is that the Historical Jesus was the first ever to present this weapon of unconditional deity. He was the first to slay the great monster of threatening deity. His “stunning new theology of a non-retaliatory deity” was his greatest contribution to the history of ideas, according to James Robinson. All previous deity theories (mythologies, religions) had embraced the feature of ultimate retaliation by deities in the form of judgment, punishment, and destruction for wrongs done (threat theology). That had been the human understanding of justice from the beginning. But Historical Jesus rejected retaliatory justice and the myth of a retaliatory God. He did this in his statement, “No more eye for eye but instead love your enemies because God does” (my paraphrase of his central theme). He argued that God does not retaliate with punishment, exclusion, or destruction but instead God forgives, loves, and includes all with scandalous generosity (i.e. sun and rain are given to both good and bad people).
So in conclusion, yes, there is a real monster. It may not be formally held in people’s worldviews that shape their daily conscious life. It may be more manifest from the subconscious. It consists of the primitive ideas that were long ago embedded in human worldviews and that have become the inherited archetypes of all humanity. These ideas are given expression in both religious and “secular/ideological” terms. This was stated by Campbell when he said that the same themes have been repeated all across history and across all the cultures of the world. You can detect the continuing presence of the old monsters by noting the themes of the apocalyptic millennial complex still manifest in people’s worldviews.
If there is no punitive, destroying Force or Spirit behind the material world, what then of natural disasters, disease, and human cruelty? That can all be understood in terms of natural consequences all through life. But there are no retaliatory, punitive spirits or gods behind such things. There is only love behind reality and life. And alternative “spiritual” traditions and theologies argue that this imperfect world with its suffering is best understood as a learning arena for human development. Through suffering in this world we learn the most important things in life- i.e. we learn good as contrasted with bad, we learn empathy from shared suffering, and more. Our suffering with problems stimulates us to find solutions that then benefit others. Problems lead to creative solutions that make life better for others.
Point? In all our engagement of “righteous” battles in life make sure that we are fighting the real monsters and enemies of humanity. Our real enemies are not one another. They are inside us. Remember Solzhenitsyn’s sage advice: “The real battle of good against evil runs down the center of every human heart”.
(Insert: My use of the feature of ‘unconditional’ broadly covers the related features of non-retaliation, non-punitive, non-destructive, and universal inclusion. All such themes were common to the original message of Historical Jesus (Q Wisdom Sayings Gospel), a person quite entirely different from the New Testament Jesus Christ.)
A “short version” list of “Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives (More detailed versions, with sources, are posted in sections below- see “The Four Main Essays”)
These are some of the main themes behind alarmism movements, whether religious or “secular/scientific”. The point is not to deny the common human awareness of the “spiritual” but to offer alternative themes to those presented by world religions and alarmist ideologies. This is also about digging down into the subconscious and touching base with human emotions.
1 Old story theme (the core theme): The myth of God as an ultimate judging, punishing, and destroying reality.
New story alternative: The stunning new theology of deity (Ultimate Reality/Mystery, Consciousness, Mind, Self) as an inexpressibly wondrous “no conditions” Love (i.e. no judgment, no punishment, no destruction in apocalypse or hell).
2 Old story theme: The myth of a perfect beginning (Eden) and a God obsessed with perfection and punishing imperfection (i.e. God angry at the loss of perfection).
New story alternative: The world began in imperfection (was purposely created imperfect as a learning arena for human struggle and development) but has gradually improved with emerging complexity, organization, and creative human input.
3 Old story theme: The myth that humanity began as a more perfect species but has “fallen” or degraded into something worse over history.
New story alternative: We have emerged from the brutality of an animal past to gradually become something better across history- more human/humane.
4 Old story theme: The myth that the trajectory of life declines toward something worse (i.e. toward some great collapse and ending).
New story alternative: Life has improved across history, notably with creative human input and guidance.
5 Old story theme: The myth that natural disasters, disease, human cruelty, and death are expressions of divine punishment.
New story alternative: While there are natural and social consequences all through life, there is no punitive, destroying deity behind the imperfections of life.
6 Old story theme: Humanity has been rejected by the Creator and has become separated from the Source, and now must be reconciled to God.
New story alternative: No one has ever been separated from the unconditional Love at the core of reality.
7 Old story theme: The myth of dualism in Ultimate Reality (i.e. a Good God versus an evil Force/Satan). This myth has validated the division of humanity into opposing groups of “true believers/unbelievers”, “saved” and “lost”, good guys versus bad guys/enemies, and other tribal divisions based on race/ethnicity, religion, ideology, nationality, gender, and so on.
New story alternative: We all come from the same originating Oneness and we are all equals in the one human family. The apparent dualisms of this material world do not represent any ultimate dualism.
8 Old story theme: The myth of looming apocalypse and the final destruction of all (i.e. God as ultimate Destroyer).
New story alternative: There are problems all through the world but no looming threat of final destruction and ending of life.
9 Old story theme: The threat of an imminent end to the world incites the panic-driven demand for “instantaneous transformation” of life (versus “gradualism” in the development of life). Threat of imminent collapse and ending incites the demand for urgent action to save the world, for “coercive purging” of some imagined threat.
New story alternative: There is no end of days on the horizon and consequently no need for coercive instantaneous transformation. We improve life gradually as we solve problems democratically.
10 Old story theme: The demand for a salvation scheme, for some sacrifice or payment.
New story alternative: Unconditional means absolutely no divine demand for debt payment, no conditions. None. No demanded sacrifice or punishment.
11 Old story theme: Retribution or payback/punishment is true justice.
New story alternative: Unconditional affirms restorative/rehabilitative justice that is victim-centered and holds offenders responsible, but forgives and treats all humanely.
12 Old story theme: The myth of future or after-life judgment, exclusion, and punishment/destruction.
New story alternative: Unconditional includes all in the end (sun and rain given to all, to both good and bad people). There is no ultimate judgment, exclusion, punishment or destruction (no such thing as Hell).
13 Old story theme: The myth of a hero messiah that uses superior force to overthrow enemies and purge the world so that he can coercively install a paradise for his “true believer” followers.
New story alternative: Authentic love does not intervene or overwhelm with force that violates the freedom of others. Further, the only savior/salvation that we can expect will come from ourselves. The only salvation that we need to be concerned about is to get busy solving problems in our world and improving life in some way. That will “save” life and the world.
14 Old story theme: The myth of Biblicism- i.e. the belief that religious holy books are more special and authoritative than ordinary human insight and writing.
New story alternative: There is no special religious authority above common human insights, such as in human rights codes or constitutions, or as found throughout ordinary human discussion and writing.
15 Old story theme: The myth of God as ruler, judge, Lord, or King (a lordship mediated via priesthoods and religious authorities).
New story alternative: There is no domination/subservience in God relating to humanity, or human relating to deity. God relates horizontally to humanity.
16 Old story theme: The myth that humanity is obligated to know, serve, or have a relationship with invisible reality (related myth- “humanity created to serve the gods”).
New story alternative: Our primary loyalty is to serve real people and their needs, in here and now reality.
17 Old story theme: The absence or silence of God in the midst of natural disaster or human cruelty. The Holocaust is the iconic example of such silence.
New story alternative: There is no Sky God somewhere up above the world. God has never been absent or silent but has always incarnated in all humanity (the human or humane spirit) and is seen in all human raging against evil and suffering, and all human effort to make life better.
18 Old Story Theme: The myth of the moral and spiritual superiority of the simple, low-consumption lifestyle (self-produced, using only local resources).
New Story Alternative: The search for a better life is the fundamental urge of love- to responsibly improve one’s life and the condition of one’s family. Enjoyment of life (i.e. free choice in consumption), along with the benefits of free commerce (self-determination), has been a huge boon to all humanity.
Added qualifier: Holding the belief that God is a no conditions reality (i.e. all are forgiven and included in the end) does not nullify the common-sense need for us to restrain violent people and prevent wrongdoing in this world. And likewise, our responsibility to restrain bad behavior in this life does not nullify the ultimate reality of God as unconditional love (all forgiven, included, and loved in the end).
Understanding our story in terms of Campbell’s story framework
Here is some personal material to illustrate how we can frame our personal stories with Joseph Campbell’s research on the common elements of all human story. Why Campbell’s framework? Campbell studied the world’s cultures, myths, and religions from across history. He then summarized the main elements familiar to all human life in his comments on ‘The Hero’s Journey’, outlining experiences that are common to all people.
Here is some inter-action with Campbell’s story themes.
Story theme: We go out into life to engage a journey, an adventure, to live a human story.
Our awareness of our existence as human beings begins in our first few years on Earth. Our earliest years are remembered in scatted ‘little-people’ experiences, usually the more traumatic ones that impress themselves more prominently on our memory. And parents, along with other adults, occupy a dominant place in such experiences. Children are intensely aware of and impacted by what big people say and do.
My earliest remembered experience, around 3 years of age, was of my Dad calling us into the kitchen of our house. My sisters and I stood before our white enamel wood stove while Dad stood to the side of the stove facing us. He held the forefinger of his hand close to the hot black surface of the stove and said with a warning intonation, “Just like your finger burns when you touch this hot stove so you will burn in hell if you don’t follow God”. He was referring to his Evangelical Christian God. That was my introduction to the hell-fire deity of fundamentalist Christianity.
Following years brought more re-enforcement of that sense of ultimate threat, of fire, burning, and pain if you did not believe and follow Dad’s religion. God would surely get us in the end, Dad warned.
Story theme: In our life journey we face a monster. Our monsters may be physical problems, or mental/emotional, psychological, social, and other.
During teen years, young people struggle for independence from parents as part of the transition to adulthood. The struggle for freedom from parental control can be a difficult navigation for young people. After mid to late-teen years of too many bad choices (juvenile delinquency, multiple probations) I was then again pulled back into my Dad’s religion for the next few years (late teens, early twenties). Dad moved our family to a small-town Christian Bible School in a neighboring province. It was an Evangelical school lit with 1970s Evangelical fervor over the soon return of the apocalyptic Lord Christ to violently end history and the world.
Over our years there, we were indoctrinated with themes of a deity that was enraged and obsessed with human imperfection and failure (sin). That deity threatened a soon-coming judgment, with possible exclusion from the tribe of true believers, and potential severe punishment, including eternal hellfire.
The Christian God then became my personal monster. That God was presented as Ultimate Threat. Evangelical Christianity beat that deity into our consciousness to dominate all thought and life as we were taught to worship, serve, pray to, meditate on, and have a relationship with that invisible, metaphysical reality. I did not have the mental tools at the time to challenge what was being taught.
Evangelical Christianity oriented its followers to an after-life reality that had to take precedence over this here and now world. And that other-worldly emphasis was backed with threat of the worst kind, the threat of ultimate after-life harm or loss.
And yes, love was also included in the mix of Christian themes. But it was a version of love that was grounded on the central demand for a violent, bloody sacrifice to appease “the fury of the wrath of God” (Revelation, Romans). It was a profoundly deformed understanding of love, a love that was highly conditional, easily offended, quick to retaliate harshly, and eternally merciless toward all who refused to believe it.
Story theme: We are wounded in our fight with our monster. Campbell also touches on the shamanic experience that involves the disintegration of a person with later reintegration around something new, some new discovery or truth.
Psychotherapist Zenon Lotufo (“Cruel God, Kind God”) speaks of the deforming influence of “cruel God religion”. He details the personality-deforming influence of the fear, anxiety, guilt/shame, and despair that Cruel God ideas promote. For a period of several years in my early Twenties I made the mistake of taking the ideas of Evangelical Christianity seriously. I did not possess the mental tools to resist the potency of Christian threat theology and its deforming influence.
That eventually resulted in a personal episode of disintegration, a sort of mental/emotional collapse during overseas missionary work for an Evangelical organization. It was a fall into a deep, dark hole. Co-workers may not have noticed much outwardly aside from some social withdrawal, but inwardly I experienced a descent into profound disorientation and disintegration. I had become overwhelmed by the fear, anxiety, shame, and guilt that had flooded my consciousness over the past years of intense religious indoctrination.
I would add that the human struggle with depression is often the result of complex factors that are hard to disentangle and fully understand- i.e. childhood experience and trauma, later life stresses, chemical/physical elements in relation to the brain, and more (genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors, according to the National Institute of Health and Medicine).
Add here the point from Erikson’s psychological development theory (human stages of development) that during late teens and early twenties young people are forming their self-image/identity. During those very years we were being taught that we were essentially evil, bad to the bone, as per the Christian doctrine of ‘inherited sinfulness’. Again, I took such stuff seriously for a few years.
Out of survival desperation I then began years of exploring alternative ideas around which to build an entirely new worldview, a new way of understanding and living. It was the beginning of a decades-long process of abandoning my religion and finding a new worldview with new themes/truths to center my life (see ‘Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives’, below). That was a “cognitive therapy” phase of life.
Subsequent years in university- undergrad and grad school- helped the process of re-integration around an entirely new worldview.
Story theme: In our struggle with our monster/problem we gain new insights, we learn lessons. And a wise man gives us a weapon to help us slay our monster, to overcome our monster.
Sparked by a fortuitous event, I started reading Bob Brinsmead in the mid-70s and that led to a journey of liberation from my Evangelical Christian religion. Campbell says that in our journey we will encounter a wise man who gives us the weapon to slay our monster. Bob was that wise man for me.
Over subsequent years I discovered and fully embraced the “stunning new theology of a non-retaliatory God”, a God that was “no conditions Love” of an inexpressibly wondrous kind. That unconditional feature became a defining core theme of a new emerging worldview. It became a central theme in a long process of re-integration around a new truth, with new ideas that would shape my life story. Unconditional became the potent weapon to slay/conquer my old monster God and defeat that monster.
I would eventually realize that the threatening deity of Christianity had never existed but was just the product of over-heated religious minds. The Ultimate Reality that had always existed, the Source that was only Love, had nothing to do with the primitive threat theologies of historical mythology and religion. There was no exclusion, no domination, no punishment or destruction with the no conditions reality that existed. Ultimate Reality was love and only Love of the most profound kind- absolutely no conditions. I was also amazed to discover that such a deity had been presented by the Historical Jesus before his message was buried under the retaliatory and highly conditional deity of Paul’s Christ religion (see ‘The Christian Contradiction’ below).
The feature of unconditional finally brought down my old monster God. Completely and finally.
The feature of unconditional also enables us to conquer the monster and enemy that lives inside all of us- the animal inheritance. What Campbell calls the “animal passions”. The animal passions include the impulses to tribal exclusion (small band mentality), to domination of others (alpha male/female), and to punishment and destruction of enemies. Unconditional counters those animal impulses with an orientation to the universal inclusion of all people, with respect for the freedom of all others, and with restorative justice.
Campbell says that the transition to mature adulthood comes when we embrace universal love. I would paraphrase that we mature as humans, we become the heroes of our story, when we embrace the more encompassing feature of unconditional love for all others.
Story theme: Out of our struggle with our monster we can then share the insights that we gain, the lessons that we learn, as a boon or blessing for others. As Julian Simon said, our problems are good for us because they push us to find solutions that can then benefit others. Suffering is also beneficial for sparking empathy for others that similarly suffer.
The offering that I would make from my struggle with my monster is the wonder of unconditional reality and life. I have made it the defining core of my larger encompassing worldview and ethics. It liberates human consciousness entirely from bad religious ideas/myths. Unconditional frees from the personality-deforming fear, anxiety, and shame/guilt of ‘threat theology’. Unconditional presents a potent central idea for an alternative worldview.
Comment on ‘Alarmism movements’
No one denies the importance of good information to enable people to assess risk over varied threats in life. But news media appear unable to present threats in a balanced and rational manner. As media continue to daily obsess over varied public threats I am reminded of David Altheide’s “Creating Fear: News and the construction of crisis”. Is it just me feeling the media are exaggerating things?
These quotes are from the link just below to the excellent essay by Ivan Jankovic:
“… human society, especially when politics gets involved – and this politics is a democratic one – tends, as if almost by rule, to make horrible and self-destructive decisions, all of which create and perpetuate irrational panic and excessive risk aversion…
“All reports compiled by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific organizations show that most natural disasters are not getting worse, and some are getting less severe.
“Why then do all too many people believe the very opposite? The answer is that the media is obsessively pushing the stories about disasters every day. In the age of satellite television and the internet there is no global disaster or catastrophe that is not immediately made visible to anyone with access to modern technology – hurricane, earthquake, forest fire – everything is immediately broadcasted and always accompanied by dramatic, often catastrophic messages of gloom and doom…
“The recent Covid-19 epidemic in the USA is a tragic cautionary tale. The respiratory disease, for everything we know, is similar to a severe, pandemic flu. The symptoms are similar, and the death rate according to the initial estimate of the Centers for Disease Control is between 0.16% and 0.33% (later estimates don’t provide a unique IFR, but a range of different IFR for different age groups show an extremely strong age gradient after 70 and an exceedingly low death rate for those younger than 40). A comprehensive review of all antibody studies done so far by world-renowned epidemiologist John Ioannidis found that the average death rate of Covid-19 is about 0.27%, with some regional variations.
“This is certainly higher than the seasonal flu, but very close to a severe pandemic flu, like the one the world experienced in 1957 and 1968 (without doing anything to “tackle” them). Indeed Dr. Anthony Fauci himself, the President’s principal scientific adviser for epidemics, in co-authorship with Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control, published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 26th of 2020, saying: “If one assumes that the number of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic cases is several times as high as the number of reported cases the case fatality rate may be considerably less than 1. This suggests that the overall clinical consequences of COVID-19 may ultimately be more akin to those of a severe seasonal influenza (which has a case fatality rate of approximately 0.1%) or a pandemic influenza (similar to those in 1957 and 1968) rather than a disease similar to Spanish flu, SARS or MERS, which have had case fatality rates of 9% to 10% and 36%, respectively.”
“An overwhelming majority of people who died of Covid were older than 70 and already had other significant ailments like heart disease, diabetes or obesity. Among children and young people the disease is much less severe than seasonal flu. Additionally, children are far less likely to transmit the virus than older people, which is in stark contrast to the flu, where children are the main spreaders and sufferers.
“All of these facts were known for a long time and are not disputed seriously by most experts. Yet, they’ve had almost zero influence on how people reacted to the disease and what politicians did in response to it. Schools and colleges were promptly closed in March 2020, almost all businesses were ordered to shut down and most of the population was forced to lock themselves up at home for months, pushing the country into the deepest economic depression since the 1920s!
“The same Dr. Anthony Fauci, who wrote on March 26th that the Covid death rate was likely “similar to severe seasonal influenza or pandemic influenza” the very next day said on television that “The mortality of [Covid-19] is about 10 times that of the flu”. Obviously, the reasons for this were not “scientific:” whatever the cause of this dramatic change in assessment might be, we have some doubts that Dr Fauci studied the problem so thoroughly in the night between March 26th and March 27th and discovered that Covid-19 was not similar to the flu, but ten times worse. We think it’s far more likely he did this for political or other, nonscientific, reasons, while ignoring science.
“The reason everything was shut down was mass psychosis and hysteria, fueled by media “reporting,” creating a powerful political pressure to “do something.” Media drumbeat of fear and panic, in a typical “if it bleeds it leads” fashion, using anomalous cases of young people dying or becoming severely ill, exaggerated or highly speculative projections based on models and not on the empirical data, and experts like Fauci and Redfield cooperating in lending their scientific credentials to the propaganda machine, even when their scientific findings did not justify alarmism.
“This helped spread panic among the population, by breathlessly pushing and promoting the outlandish forecasts by some irresponsible “experts” about millions of people who will die and so on.
“This constant drumbeat of apocalyptic fear mongering “convinced” (or rather scared) the majority of people that the end is indeed nigh, that everybody will die and soon and nobody is safe. As a predictable consequence, people started acting increasingly irrationally. The infamous scenes of toilet paper and hand sanitizer disappearing from the shelves are the most dramatic illustration of what happened, shortages of ordinary merchandise that developed in many parts of the country was another…
“The media scares the population with endless “reporting” about the upcoming carnage of this or that sort, people panic and demand that politicians do something about that and protect them. Politicians, concerned about their own popularity start doing something – usually the most ineffective and meaningless but expensive and theatrically appealing thing, to avoid looking “weak” and “indecisive.”
“The media then uses these “protective measures” as “proof” of how serious the situation is, feeding even more frenzy and fear, leading to even more panic and more citizens’ demands that politicians do something. Think of a small snowball, rolling down a hill, gathering more mass as it goes…
“If people expect politicians to eliminate or greatly reduce the level of risk and uncertainty in their lives (as they invariably do) then they relinquish an awful lot of power to politicians…
“Experts who predicted this surge and convinced politicians to essentially shut down the health care system for months for most other patients will be responsible for tens of thousands of preventable deaths. In America the number of people who sought doctors’ help for stroke and heart attack fell during the lockdown by 30%-50%. Many of these people were, because of the relentless media hysteria, too afraid to go and see a doctor. Some of them died, some of them got much worse and will be much more difficult to treat.
“Yet, all of these deaths and sufferings will be spread over a longer period of time and will not be shown on television. CNN will not be quick to run the stories about the carnage that their own hysterical “reporting” helped create. These people will die quietly and lonely, without anyone to plead their case in the public, and to avenge them by asking for accountability of those who were responsible for their deaths – politicians, media and “experts.”
Here is the full essay from Ivan Jankovic, “The political economy of mass hysteria and panic”.
Alarmism patterns and outcomes- a repeat summary from sections below
Alarmism is the exaggeration of real problems in life, exaggeration that stretches far beyond available evidence on the true state of problems. Alarmists exaggerate problems to apocalyptic-scale and even prophesy the end of the world. Note Congresswoman AOC’s prophecy in 2018, regarding climate change, that we had only 12 years to the end of the world. Or the father of global warming alarmism, James Hansen, prophesying in 2008 that “Its all over in five years”. There are many more similar prophesies by notable public figures.
That is stunningly irresponsible and dangerous fear-mongering that incites needless fear in populations and pushes people toward the irrational embrace of destructive policies. Apocalyptic has often driven people mad.
Good science is critical to help us understand the true state of our world, the true state of the problems throughout life that we must responsibly and rationally solve. Good science embraces skeptical challenge, it looks at the complete big picture (i.e. paleo-climate) and long-term trends, it tests and replicates, it observes real world evidence and makes conclusions based on that evidence not on faulty models. Unfortunately, scientific evidence by itself has not calmed or changed the minds of most alarmists.
This site probes related issues behind the past century’s repeated eruptions of environmental alarmism- notably, the still widespread embrace of an apocalyptic perspective that has long been embedded at the core of human narratives. Apocalyptic mythology was present in the earliest human writing, the Sumerian Flood myth. Apocalyptic mythology was later embraced by the world religions and was then given expression in “secular” form in the ideology of 19th Century Declinism- the idea that life is declining toward something worse, toward a great collapse and ending. Apocalyptic continues to dominate modern narratives, both religious and secular/ideological, notably the declinist narrative of environmental alarmism. Arthur Herman (The Idea of Decline In Western History) states that the idea of decline is “the most dominant and influential theme in the world today”.
The prominence of apocalyptic mythology across history has attuned populations to be receptive to the endless stream of end-of-days prophecies from alarmist prophets.
Consequently, the mythology of apocalyptic has blinded many to the amassed evidence that life has been on a long-term trajectory of improvement, a trajectory that has risen almost exponentially in recent decades. Against such evidence of life improving, many people still intuitively respond to and embrace apocalyptic scenarios. Over past millennia, belief in apocalyptic has become hardwired in human subconscious as unchallenged fact.
The outcomes of prophets inciting public fear have been horrifically damaging to human societies.
Arthur Mendel in Vision and Violence stated that apocalyptic has been “the most violent and destructive idea in history”. How so? Apocalyptic-scale alarmism sets in motion a pattern of irrational herd response that has repeatedly led to mass-harm and even mass-death outcomes. The apocalyptic-millennial scholars Richard Landes, Arthur Mendel, and David Redles detail the patterns and outcomes of Marxist apocalyptic, Nazi apocalyptic, and now environmental apocalyptic. Remember, for example, that Rachel Carson’s apocalyptic narrative in Silent Spring influenced the ban on DDT that resulted in the subsequent unnecessary deaths of millions of people, many children (See “The Excellent Powder: The science and history of DDT” by Tren and Roberts).
Apocalyptic patterns and salvationism solutions
First, there is the exaggeration of legitimate problems to apocalyptic scale and that incites widespread fear in populations (“we’re all gonna die”, the end is nigh). That agitated survival fear then renders people susceptible to alarmist salvation schemes that involve the ‘coercive purging’ of some threat to life (again- see Landes, Mendel).
Once alarmist solutions are embraced as necessary to “save the world”, then democratic processes are more readily brushed aside because the threat that is presented by alarmists is always “imminent and dire”. To re-enforce the feature of imminence, dates are repeatedly set that are just years or decades ahead, and just as repeatedly have to be reset as the end times never arrive. It is the endless prophesying of the never-arriving end-of-days.
Imminent-ending leads alarmists to argue that there is no time to waste indulging skeptics or unbelievers of apocalyptic, so ban, silence, discredit with personal attack, and even criminalize them, as President Obama’s AG, Loretta Lynch, tried to do in 2016.
Apocalyptic-scale alarmism, inciting widespread fear, unleashes the destructive totalitarian impulse under the guise of salvationism (again, “We must save the world”). We are watching this play out today in environmental alarmism, notably climate change alarmism, with its anti-humanism element that targets humanity as the enemy to be shut down because humanity is causing environmental disaster. Salvation is very much about being saved from humanity, the corrupting force on Earth (i.e. humans as the “cancer or virus” to be culled or purged from the world). The anti-humanism of apocalyptic alarmism has to ignore or dismiss the amassed evidence that humanity has creatively solved problems and has done well in caring for the planet. That does not mean there are no problems to be solved but that we have been “more creators than destroyers” (Julian Simon in Ultimate Resource).
The coercive, violent purging of some “evil” threat to life has always been central to apocalyptic mythology whether in primitive versions like Zoroastrianism, or contemporary world religions, or apocalyptic ideologies such as environmental alarmism.
Alarmists are now applying the coercive purging principle to broadly to human civilization, agitating populations with endless end-of-world prophesies and pressure to shut down industrial, fossil fuels society, to rapidly decarbonize the world. This irrational response to the mild 1-degree Centigrade warming of the past century will cause unimaginable suffering, mainly for the poorest people. Decarbonization schemes have already harmed many with exorbitant energy and electricity prices. https://www.thegwpf.org/new-paper-decarbonisation-plans-fail-engineering-reality-check/
Once the evil threat has been purged, alarmists argue that then the lost original paradise can be restored. The concept of paradise has been framed in apocalyptic millennial movements as communalism/collectivism in Marxism, Third Reich in Nazism, and restored wilderness world in environmentalism.
Recommend: Counter alarmism with good scientific evidence but do not ignore the deeper issues of meaning behind alarmism- i.e. the deeply embedded beliefs such as the apocalyptic complex of ideas/mythology.
Approach every problem in life with caution and a healthy skepticism. The history of exaggerated alarms over the past 70 years should serve as a warning that some people have a hard-wired bent to exaggerate problems. Alarming populations is highly irresponsible. Most irresponsible are news media with their obsession over creating fear and assaulting the public with endless worst-case scenarios (see Sociologist David Altheide’s ‘Creating Fear: News and the construction of crisis’).
Inciting needless fear… again, and again, and…
Politicians are once again trying to stir a frenzy of alarm over a natural and very mild climate change, a mild warming of 0.27 degree C. over the past 40 years, imperceptible to people, plants and animals (a total of 1 degree C. since 1880). Remember that this mild rise over the past century was part of the natural return to more normal temperatures after the descent into the abnormal bitter cold of the Little Ice Age of roughly 1650-1715.
All life goes through far greater swings in temperature, whether daily, monthly, or annually. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/02/01/the-so-called-climate-health-emergency/
Our contemporary mild warming has taken place while Earth is still in an overall long-term ice-age era, an abnormally cold time in world history, where 15-20 times more people die annually from cold than from warmth.
Further, our current ice-age era has severely limited wildlife habitat. As Patrick Moore notes, the highest species diversity is found in the warmer tropical areas of our planet. Yet we are endlessly told to fear a few more degrees of warming that would help spread that species diversity to currently colder areas. More warming would benefit all life with extended habitat because more warming impacts the colder areas more than it impacts the already warm areas. It is madness gone insane that we are made to fear what would benefit all life- more warmth and more basic plant food in the atmosphere.
Once again- a more optimal and more normal world is an ice-free world. That has been the state of our planet for some 90 percent of the past 500 million years when most modern life forms emerged and flourished.
Note: Alarmist madness is most visible in the insane demonization of the food of all life- CO2- and the absurd demonization of the fossil fuels that have sustained humanity’s rise out of poverty and subsequent progress with all the benefits that we value today.
Illustrating madness movements
Manobo friends have often told me of the pagagano movements that would sweep through their mountain villages on the Southern Philippine island of Mindanao. Someone would “receive a vision” that the end was soon to come and a great Diwata (godlike angel) would promise to come down and take them all to paradise. Those initiating the pagagano would call the rest of the villagers to gather in the village center. They would alarm the others with their vision and the threat that the end was soon coming. They would tell their fellow villagers to build unnecessary and costly long-houses for the rapture meeting place, abandon their growing crops, offer costly sacrifices to appease the threatening Diwata, and then just wait till the end-of-days arrived.
The apocalyptic prophets claimed that the Diwata would not take people to paradise unless they offered required sacrifices for their sins. Unbelievers and sinners would not be allowed to join the glory train.
During the pagagano varied villagers would concoct ridiculous money-generating schemes that in post-apocalypse hindsight were recognized as certifiably crazy. A friend Inoy gave me the example of one man cutting a hole in a door and telling the others that for a price they could put their hand through the door and shake the hand of a long-deceased relative of their choice. Inoy laughed embarrassedly as he told me that even the adults fell for it. A madness would possess normally more rational adults and nothing seemed too bizarre given the larger end-times mentality gripping the village.
These movements have swept through different areas of Manoboland repeatedly over their past history. And just as repeatedly the pagaganos would end disastrously for the Manobo communities. Crops were abandoned to rot in the fields, remaining food sources like pigs and chickens were wastefully sacrificed (the main sources of wealth in a non-cash economy), and disillusioned Manobo would then try to salvage whatever remained. Starvation would seriously threaten the villagers. Pagagano initiators would blame the rest of the group for the failure of the Diwata to return. The villagers must have not made enough sacrifices, they would argue, or their sins were just too great for the angel to return and take the whole group to paradise.
Things never ended well for people embracing those mad end-times movements. I have recently thought of those pagagano movements as our world is currently possessed with the madness of an end-times movement where people are engaging costly and unnecessary sacrifices to appease the threatening end-times angels of vengeful Gaia, angry Planet, or Mother Earth (Nancy Pelosi, 2020 re wildfires in California- “Mother Earth is angry”). The sacrifice today- decarbonization for the “sins” of fossil fuel civilization.
And today Progressives urge us to cover our landscapes with costly structures like wind-mills that do little to enhance human wellbeing and progress. Ah, many have not progressed much beyond the primitive madness movements that litter human cultures across history.
Global Warming Policy Foundation has just published Dr. Indur Goklany’s excellent summary of his research on climate- “Impacts of Climate Change: Perceptions and Reality”. Goklany was a member of the delegation that established the IPCC, the chief UN agency handling climate issues.
Goklany presents evidence showing that there is no “climate emergency” and there is no reason to fear the mild warming over the past century. Some points in Goklany’s paper:
-Sea level rise has not been threatening. In fact, there has actually been some expansion of land area on Earth (“Earth’s surface gained 33,700 km2 of land in coastal areas”). The vast majority of islands are stable or increasing in area. Only 11% are contracting.
-Heatwaves were more extreme in the past, notably during the 1930s in the US.
-Wildfire areas have not been increasing and wildfires across the world have been declining.
-Droughts are not increasing.
-Cyclones, tornadoes, and floods are not getting worse. They have not been increasing and are not becoming more frequent or intense.
-Human well-being has been improving, not worsening. People are living longer and healthier lives. Poverty is rapidly declining.
-Deaths from natural disasters have declined 99% since the 1920s.
-15 times more people die from cold than from warm temperatures every year.
-Fossil fuels have benefitted life immensely. More CO2 (basic plant food) has resulted in a massive global greening with increased forest cover and increased crop production. The increase in crop yield means that farmers have been able to produce more crop on the same land and therefore spare natural areas from conversion to agriculture. Others note that we have already passed “peak agriculture” and will continue the trend of returning more agricultural land back to nature into the future.
More detail at https://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2021/02/Goklany-EmpiricalTrends.pdf?mc_cid=41e10ffe91&mc_eid=bbd9cad85f
Rethinking drugs and addiction
Episodes of over-turnings: Mounting evidence has overturned the climate alarm narrative (not climate change that is happening but the alarmist exaggeration of climate change). The widely accepted belief regarding the cause of stomach ulcers has been overturned by the research of Dr. Barry Marshall and colleagues of Australia. And the war on fat that has dominated the past half century is now being reframed by evidence, contrary to the anti-fat narrative, that natural fats are good for us. Well, here is another overturning to consider- drugs and addiction.
I have been working my way through Johann Hari’s “Chasing the Scream: The first and last days of the drug war”. Some stunning material in this challenging book.
Hari offers research showing that over 90 percent of people using drugs do not get addicted (including using heroin, cocaine, and other ‘hard’ drugs). Addiction is not so much related to the chemical makeup of drugs but more strongly related to childhood abuse/trauma. Childhood abuse is the real cause of addiction. And withdrawal from drugs is not the horrendous physical experience portrayed in popular media. “The real pain of withdrawal is the return of all the psychological pain that you were trying to put to sleep with heroin in the first place” (p. 171, Chasing the Scream). And so on.
Most interesting is Hari’s tracing of the origins of the drug war in the US, and the misleading propaganda behind that.
I have just read the interesting bit on the rat experiment where rats in a cage were given a nipple providing morphine and they all appeared to become addicted to it. But one scientist noted that the cages in those experiments were empty except for the morphine nipples. So, replicating the experiment, he added cages with alternative things like food, things to play with, and other rats to have sex with. Hardly any of the rats in these ‘alternative environment’ cages then went to the morphine nipples.
But our understanding of addiction and the addictive power of drugs in humans was based on things like those faulty experiments with rats in empty cages. Those experiments re-enforced our faulty understanding of drugs and addiction and hardly anyone challenged that. And so it goes with varied other myths associated with drugs and addiction.
Hari’s book offers some excellent research on the drug war, its historical origins, the failures of prohibition movements (e.g. the associated increase in violence), the causes of addiction, and more.
Too many across the planet have slipped into what appears to be a paroxysm/seizure of mass alarm, having embraced history’s most discredited myth- that life is in decline toward some form of apocalypse. Over recent centuries, the primitive myth of apocalyptic has been reframed in the ideology of 19th Century Declinism- the belief that life is declining toward something catastrophic, that the world is becoming worse. Declinism is the falsest of all false narratives and must be held against a mass of contrary evidence that affirms the amazing progress that life has made, notably across recent centuries. Declinism is a serious disconnect from reality.
What kind of alarmist madness leads people to demonize the food of all life- CO2- and to demonize the fossil fuels that have lifted humanity out of poverty and into a trajectory of amazing progress over the past century or so?
Advocates of environmental alarmism, now focused on climate alarmism, shout “listen to the science”, and urge all to bow to the “consensus”. But there has never been a ‘scientific consensus’ to affirm Declinist exaggeration and alarmism (Note: Almost 32,000 scientists signed the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine ‘Protest Petition’ that challenged climate alarmism.). Nonetheless, the leading prophets of Declinist doom endlessly set ‘end-of-days’ dates that are just as endlessly passed. The apocalypse recedes ever further away over the horizon, but there is no waning of true believer’s zeal for some soon-to-arrive catastrophe, framed in terms of the next “final tipping point” or “Last chance” (John Kerry, Jan.28/2021). Father of warming alarmism James Hansen claimed in 2008, “Its all over in five years”. Congresswoman AOC added in 2018, “the world will end in 12 years” (2030). Many others, Stephen Hawking included, also added their voices to the apocalyptic prophesying. Al Gore stated that we are right now “living through the Apocalypse (of Revelation)”. Sheesh, eh.
Those who question the madness of the apocalyptic mob with good evidence to the contrary are shouted down and denied the common decency of open and free debate over facts. They are called “deniers” and “unbelievers” of the dogma. Bernie Sanders and Hilary Clinton repeated the true believer’s mantra throughout the 2016 Primary season, “They ‘don’t believe’ in climate change”. That statement reveals either intentional deception or profound ignorance of the basic issues of the debate. Take your pick. I would be generous and suggest ignorance.
Skeptics are banned from academic positions and communities (e.g. Susan Crockford of Canada, Peter Ridd of Australia), subject to ad hominem attack and humiliation, cancelled and silenced, fired, and sued, which has been Michael Mann’s response to questioners of his fraudulent research. Skeptics are even subject to criminalization efforts as when Obama’s AG, Loretta Lynch, tried to criminalize skeptical science in 2016. Alarmists have also called for the prosecution of oil company executives. The fundamental principles of modern science- skepticism/questioning, observation of the real world, replication, and verification- are often decried as “denialism”. Add to this the larger threat that alarmism poses to freedom of speech and human freedom in general.
Future generations will look back on this era of climate hysteria with embarrassment that apparent adult humans across the world fell into this ongoing spasm of apocalyptic madness.
Apocalyptic- bad mythology distorts the true state of life.
This site holds to a clear distinction between the concern for nature that all of us share, and alarmist extremism and exaggeration.
My own definition of alarmism: Exaggerating legitimate problems that must be solved out to apocalyptic-scale with end-of-days scenarios that distort the true state of things.
Promoting irrational fear then incites the survival impulse in populations and that renders people susceptible to coercive and destructive salvation schemes like “rapid decarbonization” that will be the “suicide of industrial civilization” (atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen).
This site is an anti-fear, anti-alarm project. Because evidence on the big picture of life and the long-term trends of life affirms that the world is not becoming worse, but to the contrary, life on all its main features has been improving toward something better. As Julian Simon concluded after researching the main resources and trends of our world, “We are more creators than destroyers… We have done well in improving life”.
Conclusion: Apocalyptic (and its “secular” version- Declinism) is a consciousness-distorting and society-deforming lie.
Intro to the paleo-climate big picture
Greenpeace co-founder/scientist Patrick Moore did it first with his GWPF lecture “Celebrating CO2”. Now he offers more detail in his new book “Fake Invisible Catastrophes And Threats of Doom”. Moore does not just challenge the basic assumptions of the climate alarm narrative, that is based more on apocalyptic mythology than on fact. More important, he overturns the alarmist narrative entirely with good paleo-climate evidence. He provides the big picture of the longer paleo-climate history that enables us to properly understand the climate issues of today. The big picture exposes the insanity of the endless alarmist mantra claiming recent years are “the hottest on record”.
(Insert on Moore offering a fact-based viewpoint that is entirely contrary to the basic alarmist narrative. Moore’s approach is a breath of fresh air, much like more plant food in the atmosphere. There is far too much fearful tiptoeing by politicians, and others, around enraged and howling alarmists. And of course, it is understood that skeptics are rightly fearful of being publicly excoriated and humiliated with pejoratives like “denier” and other ad hominem attacks. Unfortunately, many then give the nod to the basic assumptions of alarmism which are unproven, more apocalyptic-like exaggeration than anything remotely evidence-based.)
Conclusions: We have nothing to fear from more CO2 in our atmosphere and, in fact, we should encourage rising levels of this basic food of all life. Also, we have nothing to fear from more warming of our currently abnormally cold planet.
Climate change means that we will have to adapt to an ever-changing future world, but the benefits of more CO2 and more warmth far outweigh any negatives. Climate cooling is a far bigger threat to life. 15-20 times more people die every year from cold than from warmth.
A critical fact for the climate debate: “CO2 today is at one of the lowest levels in Earth’s history”, Patrick Moore.
We are currently in a “CO2 starvation era”. For most of the past 600 million years when most plant and animal life emerged on Earth, CO2 levels have been in the multiple-thousands of ppm (parts per million in the atmosphere). Life has thrived during that time. But some 150 million years ago CO2 began to “steadily decline to the lowest level in the history of life on Earth. During the last glacial maximum, 20,000 years ago, CO2 fell to about 180 ppm, only 30 ppm above the level where plants begin to die from CO2 starvation… Even at today’s 415 ppm carbon dioxide is still much lower than it had been during the majority of the existence of modern life” (Patrick Moore, ‘Fake Invisible Catastrophes and Threats of Doom’, p.40, 37). Moore traces the history and causes of that paleo-climate decline.
The human discovery of fossil fuels has saved life from further decline in CO2. If the 150 million-year declining trend had continued, all life would have eventually died. Moore is correct that plants need to regain the healthier 1000-1500 ppm levels of the past. Plants thrive at 2-3 times the present levels of CO2 at 415 ppm.
Alarmist claim: “The last time CO2 was this, high humans didn’t exist”. Moore’s response, “True. But humans did not exist until about 2 million years ago. As carbon dioxide declined from 2500 ppm during the last 150 million years it was not until about 5 million years ago that it had declined to today’s level of 415 ppm. It is rather preposterous to suggest that 415 ppm is somehow dangerous when all animal life, including our mammalian ancestors, lived through millions of years where carbon dioxide levels were at 2,000 ppm and higher”.
(Note: People live and operate safely at high levels of CO2, up to 8,000 ppm on US submarines- https://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/10/17/claim-co2-makes-you-stupid-as-a-submariner-that-question/)
A Paleo-climate baseline for understanding the present world
For most of history the planet was much hotter than today, by 5 degrees C. on average (19.5 C. versus today’s 14.5 C. average). And that past world did not fry because the heat was distributed mainly to colder areas such as the poles. We have evidence that during the earlier history of Earth the polar regions had tropical trees, and warm-habitat life forms such as camels. Animal and plant habitats were vastly more extensive as the polar regions over much of Earth’s past history were ice-free.
And CO2 levels were much higher, in the thousands of ppm (6,000 ppm during the Cambrian explosion when modern plants and early animal forms emerged). That meant much more of the basic food of life was available, and plant and animal life thrived and flourished.
That paleo-climate past must be the ‘big-picture’ baseline for understanding the present. Our current world is a sub-normally cold world that constricts most plant and animal life to mainly warmer regions. Note the fact that warmer regions today have far more animal and plant diversity which affirms the benefit of warmer climate on animals and plants. Colder weather causes more stress and extinctions of animal life (Ian Plimer in Heaven and Earth).
Rather than bemoan the loss of ice, and glaciers retreating, we should hope for more warming and melting. More climate warming is a return to a more optimal, more normal, and healthy planet. A planet without ice is a more normal and optimal world, which was the state of the planet for most of the past history of Earth. Our thinking on this has been completely upended with the endless unscientific alarmism over climate becoming warmer. That is insanity gone insane. A warmer world with more CO2 means a greener, healthier planet where all plant and animal life thrives. And where human civilization also flourishes.
If you care for plant, animal, and human life, then you will hope that it continues to warm and that CO2 continues to rise and supply plant life with more of its basic food.
Note: The interglacial before our current one, the Eemian (some 130,000-115,000 years ago), was 2-4 degrees C. warmer than today and sea levels were 5-8 meters higher. “The two interglacials that preceded the Eemian, the La Bouchet and the Purfleet, were also warmer and with higher sea levels.” (Moore, p.71). Our Holocene is much cooler than the previous three interglacials. Going further back in paleo-climate history, “The Eocene Thermal Maximum, which all the ancestors of every species on Earth today lived through, was a much as 10 degrees C warmer than today’s global average” (p.77).
Another note: People live and survive well in areas all across the Earth that experience annual average temperature differences from minus 14 degrees C to plus 30.5 degrees C. Why then are we being alarmed over a mild few degrees of warming? Most people (and most animals and plants) live through massive daily, monthly, and annual swings in temperature from cold to hot. Why are we being alarmed about much milder changes in climate? Most important, during this abnormally cold period on Earth (the current ice-age era that we are in) why are we being alarmed over a few degrees of warming that will benefit all life by returning our world to the more optimal warmth of most of the past history of Earth?
See details at https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/02/01/the-so-called-climate-health-emergency/
A brief education on the basic issues of the climate debate (list of alarmist claims/facts just below)
Below is a brief list of some of the basic issues related to the climate change debate. These cover areas of disagreement between alarmists and skeptics.
Skeptics do not deny climate change but know that credible evidence challenges the extent of the ‘manmade’ element. Good evidence shows that we contribute very little to Earth’s Carbon cycles, that CO2 contributes very little to climate change in general, and that more warming and more CO2 will not be catastrophic to life but will be mostly beneficial, as it already has been with a 30% greening of the planet since 1900 (a 30% global increase in biomass) with a 15% increase over just the past 4 decades.
This climate issue concerns the future of our children and our civilization. Climate alarmism has become an apocalyptic movement that demonizes the basic food of all life- CO2- and wants to decrease that food supply with a destructive salvation plan- decarbonization. That will be “The suicide of industrial civilization”, according to Richard Lindzen, atmospheric physicist and former MIT professor.
Posts on climate- evidence versus alarm
The following is mainly from the “alarmist claim rebuttal update” posted at Wattsupwiththat.com Jan.14, 2021 https://thsresearch.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/ef-cpp-alarmist-claim-rebuttal-overview-021118.pdf as well as from ‘Everythingclimate.org’ and other sites.
1. Alarmist claim: We have just experienced the hottest years on record.
Fact: For 97% of the past 10,000 years it has been hotter than today. https://alarmistclaimresearch.files.wordpress.com/2019/05/ac-rebuttal-heat-waves-070920.pdf
2. Alarmist claim: The rate of warming is becoming catastrophic.
Fact: The recent (1970s to 1990s) warming was mild and natural.
3. Alarmist claim: Global warming is causing more severe storms.
Fact: The long-term trend in severe storms is declining.
4. Alarmist claim: Global warming is causing more and stronger tornadoes.
Fact: “Strong tornadoes have seen a drop in frequency since the 1950s.”
5. Alarmist claim: Global warming is increasing the magnitude and frequency of droughts and floods.
Fact: “Our use of fossil fuels to power our civilization is not causing droughts or floods. NOAA found there is no evidence that floods and droughts are increasing because of climate change.”
6. Alarmist claim: Droughts are getting worse.
Fact: Droughts are not getting worse.
7. Alarmist claim: Global Warming has increased U.S. wildfires.
Fact: “These data show that the trend in the number of fires is actually down while the trend in the acreage burned has increased.” Globally wildfires have declined.
8. Alarmist claim: Global warming is causing snow to disappear.
Fact: The opposite is occurring with unprecedented snowfalls.
9. Alarmist claim: There is a 97% consensus that carbon dioxide from human activity is driving runaway climate changes.
Fact: “The 97% consensus claim is shown here to be simply a convenient fiction to bypass the scientific method and any inconvenient facts that arise to drive policies.”
10. Alarmist claim: Carbon pollution is a health hazard.
Fact: “The term “carbon pollution” is a deliberate, ambiguous, disingenuous term, designed to mislead people into thinking carbon dioxide is pollution.”
11. Alarmist claim: Global warming is resulting in rising sea levels.
Fact: “All data from tide gauges in areas where land is not rising or sinking show instead a steady linear and unchanging sea level rate of rise near 4 inches/century, with variations due to gravitational factors.”
12. Alarmist claim: Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland ice loss is accelerating due to global warming.
Fact: “Satellite and surface temperature records and sea surface temperatures show that both the East Antarctic Ice Sheet and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet are cooling, not warming and glacial ice is increasing, not melting.” Arctic ice extent has been measured from the end of the 1940-79 cold period which gave a misleadingly large baseline from which to evaluate Arctic sea ice extent. The extent of Arctic ice was previously smaller during earlier warm periods.
13. Alarmist claim: Rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations are causing ocean acidification, which is catastrophically harming marine life.
Fact: The ocean acidification alarm is false.
14. Alarmist claim: Coral reefs are dying.
Fact: Coral reefs are thriving.
15. Alarmist claim: CO2-induced climate change is threatening global food production and harming natural ecosystems.
Fact: “Far from being in danger, the vitality of global vegetation in both managed and unmanaged ecosystems is better off now than it was a hundred years ago, 50 years ago, or even a mere two-to-three decades ago.” Earth is greener today (a worldwide 15% increase in green vegetation since 1980) because of more basic plant food- i.e. CO2- in the atmosphere.
16. Alarmist claim: Humanity faces increasing threat from extreme weather.
Fact: Long-term data indicate that global death rates from all extreme weather events have declined by 99% since the 1920s.
17. Alarmist claim: The warming influence of CO2 on climate increases exponentially with rising levels of CO2.
Fact: The warming influence of CO2 decreases dramatically- i.e. logarithmically- with rising levels of CO2. Conclusion? There is no “climate crisis”- no reason to fear or to halt rising CO2 in the atmosphere.
This summary of new research…
“STUDY SUGGESTS NO MORE CO2 WARMING, OCTOBER 26, 2020, By David Wojick posted on Wattsupwiththat.com
“This astounding finding resolves a huge uncertainty that has plagued climate science for over a century.
“Precision research by physicists William Happer and William van Wijngaarden has determined that the present levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and water vapor are almost completely saturated. In radiation physics the technical term “saturated” implies that adding more molecules will not cause more warming.
“In plain language this means that from now on our emissions from burning fossil fuels could have little or no further impact on global warming. There would be no climate emergency. No threat at all. We could emit as much CO2 as we like; with no effect.
“This astounding finding resolves a huge uncertainty that has plagued climate science for over a century. How should saturation be measured and what is its extent with regard to the primary greenhouse gases?
“In radiation physics the term “saturation” is nothing like the simple thing we call saturation in ordinary language, just as the greenhouse effect is nothing like how greenhouses work. Your paper towel is saturated when it won’t pick up any more spilled milk. In contrast greenhouse gases are saturated when there is no more milk left to pick up, as it were, but it is far more complex than this simple analogy suggests. See full report at- https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/11/02/weekly-climate-and-energy-news-roundup-428/
Insert note: The steep decline in the warming influence of CO2 on climate. This quote from the October 31st, 2020 ‘Weekly Roundup’ report on Wattsupwiththat.com
“In the current atmosphere, with CO2 at about 400 parts per million (400 ppm), the influence of adding a molecule of CO2 is “suppressed by four orders of magnitude”, or about one-ten thousands that of the first molecules. Using the language common to those who study this field, both CO2 and water vapor are saturated; increasing these gases will not have a significant impact on the climate of the earth. Such an effect can be described by a logarithmic function, not its inverse, an exponential function which has been used in IPCC reports. Humanity’s addition of CO2 to the atmosphere is not causing a “climate crisis.”
“As stated by Richard Lindzen previously, doubling of CO2 will have little effect on the earth’s climate, a few percent (perhaps “a 2% perturbation”) of the total energy flowing onto the earth and out to space. Again, the exponential functions used by the IPCC are pure fantasy. Further, as will be discussed next week, cutting existing CO2 in half will have little effect and the residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere is not particularly meaningful. Carbon dioxide capture is of little or no value.”
MIT climate physicist Richard Lindzen’s summary presentations on climate and the minor role of CO2:
Quotes from “Climate Advice: Don’t worry, be Happer”.
“Contrary to the predictions of most climate models there has been very little warming of the Earth’s surface over the last two decades… the discrepancy between models and observations is most likely due to (the exaggerated climate sensitivity to CO2 in the models)”.
“More CO2 in the atmosphere will be good for life on planet earth. Few realize that the world has been in a CO2 famine for millions of years… Over the past 550 million years… CO2 levels have averaged many thousands of parts per million (ppm), not today’s few hundred ppm, which is not that far above the minimum level, around 150 ppm, when many plants die of CO2 starvation”.
“All green plants grow faster with more atmospheric CO2… Of equal or greater importance, more CO2 in the atmosphere makes plants more drought-resistant…. More greening and greater agricultural yields can be expected as CO2 concentrations increase further.
“Summary: The Earth is in no danger from increasing levels of CO2. More CO2 will be a major benefit to the biosphere and to humanity… more atmospheric CO2 will substantially increase plant growth rates and drought resistance.
“Historians in the future will write learned papers on how it was possible for a seemingly enlightened civilization of the early 21st century to demonize CO2”.
Joseph Campbell: “There is a deep and terrible mystery here, which we perhaps cannot, or possibly simply will not, comprehend; yet which will have to be assimilate if we are to meet such a test. For love is exactly as strong as life. And when life produces what the intellect names evil, we may enter into righteous battle, contending ‘from loyalty of heart’: however, if the principle of love (Christ’s “love your enemies”) is lost thereby, our humanity too will be lost.
“’Man’ in the words of the American novelist Hawthorne, ‘must not disclaim his brotherhood even with the guiltiest’”. (p. 168, Myths to live by)
I am trying to maintain a stance of “Both-sideism” or “Fierce Independence” re the big divides in our societies between Left and Right. This comes from earlier life experience of having given loyalty to a religious tradition (family inheritance), a loyalty that was pulled way too much toward a fundamentalist-like dogmatism. Once burned, twice shy, eh.
The journey out of that dead-end or blind alley involved recognition that it is healthier to try to maintain the stance of a human or a self in process, open to change, to further development and growth. Louis Zurcher long ago spoke to this in his little book ‘The Mutable Self’. He noted that human identity markers- whether race/nationality, occupation, religion, ideology, etc.- are often held too firmly or given too much importance and that leads to people finding their identity primarily in “fixed objects” and not remaining as “a self in open process”. Embracing identity markers too rigidly then re-enforces tribalism (us versus them thinking) with its harmful exclusion of differing others, effort to dominate “enemy” others, or to punitively destroy differing others.
The problem with affiliating too strongly with one or the other side is that you are then obligated by the tribal code and spirit to defend stuff on each side that you may not agree with, the baggage that comes with pledging loyalty to one group. Better to remain free to pick and choose and walk away from stuff that you disagree with when you choose to. And anyway, pledging loyalty to limited groups then interferes with the primary need to affirm the oneness of our human family. That should be our ultimate identity marker. Our common human spirit and consciousness. We are all ultimately “world citizens”. In this thing of life together.
I try to bring my “Fierce Independent” stance to varied issues in life. The climate alarmism issue however does fall more to one side of the ideological divide, to the Left or Liberal side. So dealing with that issue means speaking often more to folks on that side.
Both-sideism points have been made by folks like David Boaz in Libertarianism: A primer (and no, I am not Libertarian). Boaz says regarding the US situation, that Republicans need to embrace more freedom in regard to social issues and Democrats need to embrace more freedom in the economic realm.
Fortunately, we have a growing number of forums that are trying to cultivate more moderate Both-sideism approaches- going after both sides equally where they fail and trying to more fairly affirm the good things on both sides. Who said that when a society abandons the equal treatment of both sides, and a sense of unfairness increases, then that society is in trouble?
Just an “e.g.” or two: Forums taking a Both-sideism approach would include the podcast movement, Joe Rogan being notable here (Spotify), as well as more news-oriented forums like “Krystal and Saagar” of The Hill (YouTube). So also the “Jimmy Dore Show” (YouTube).
Vengeance unleashed- a “Both-sideism” viewpoint
Public outrage over the failures of others continues. We have all watched an intense eruption of “outrage culture” over the past four years (2016-2020), mainly in the US political and social arenas. A kind of back-and-forth hysteria from both sides over the “evils” of the other side, over their purported failures.
What drives people to focus on other’s failures with the harshest condemnation and then take the low road with childish name-calling that broad-brushes the entire other side with pejoratives like “Right Winger” or “Marxist”, “White Supremacist/racist” or “Leftist/Antifa”. And this is not to deny that such minority extremist groups do exist, but they are tiny fringe groups. Polls show that on both sides the moderates are in the majority, and regarding race in particular, the majority of Americans welcome diverse neighborhoods and workplaces. That bodes well for the future.
The real enemy or real battle:
Is our struggle with disagreeing people on the other side of some social divide really a righteous battle against evil?
I think often of Joseph Campbell’s wisdom: “There is a deep and terrible mystery here, which we perhaps cannot, or possibly simply will not, comprehend; yet which will have to be assimilated if we are to meet such a test. For love is exactly as strong as life. And when life produces what the intellect names evil, we may enter into righteous battle, contending ‘from loyalty of heart’: however, if the principle of love (Christ’s ‘love your enemies’) is lost thereby, our humanity too will be lost.
“’Man’ in the words of the American novelist Hawthorne, ‘must not disclaim his brotherhood even with the guiltiest’” (Myths To Live By, p.168).
We all hold positions on varied policies that we feel are legitimate stances, and we should energetically advocate for those policies. But, always, we have to be careful of the spirit in which we engage our advocacy, careful of how we treat differing others. They are not enemies. They are still family. The human “oneness” thing.
The big background picture
Note both historical and contemporary human narratives, and in particular, how revenge in all its varied forms holds a prominent position throughout the world religions, and is similarly a dominant theme in contemporary story-telling (e.g. literature, Hollywood movie-making, and TV). Punitive vengeance in our great public narratives has long been framed as rightful justice. People just getting what they deserve.
Our meta-narrative themes affirm our own worst impulses to payback, getting even, tit for tat, retribution, and severe punishment of other’s failures.
But something else deep within our common human spirit occasionally stirs in all of us. In the midst of our righteous indignation toward imperfect others we also feel the more humane promptings to mercy, kindness, forgiveness, inclusion, the sense of our oneness as a family, openness to granting second chances or more, and the humaneness of restorative justice. These are impulses that mark us as truly human or humane.
Further, what about some healthy self-awareness that we all share the same imperfection as all others and given the same life circumstances as those we feel outrage toward, we would probably have turned out just the same as them, or perhaps worse. And what about Solzhenitsyn’s sage caution that “The battle line between good and evil runs down the center of every human heart”. Perhaps we should start our battle against evil at home first before going out to change the world.
Making the world better must include beginning with ourselves, with fighting the real enemy and monster in life- i.e. the animal inheritance that resides within each of us. That means learning to deal with our own base impulses to tribal exclusion of differing others, to domination and defeat of opponents, and to vengeful, punitive treatment of others (i.e. the efforts to criminalize all sorts of infractions of opponents in varied social divides).
We know better. We know there is a better way to respond and treat others. We know that the best of our common human spirit orients us to generous inclusion of differing others, to respect for the freedom and self-determination of all others, and to restorative justice as the humane response to the failures of others.
Enough with this vengeance thing- tit for tat, hurt for hurt, humiliation for humiliation, punch for punch and the follow-up nasties of cancel culture, the vengeful lust for blood in banning, silencing, firing, de-platforming, and criminalizing others.
Bill, self-awareness is priceless
Bill Maher recently (Feb 5, 2021) went after “magical religious thinking” as in QAnon and Christian apocalyptic, and he was right to do so. So, a pat on the back, Bill. https://twitter.com/billmaher/status/1357915846731997185?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Etweet
But Bill, you believe in and propagate climate alarmism. You cannot fit a razor blade between primitive apocalyptic mythology, the dominant themes of the world religions today (all embracing some form of apocalyptic mythology), and the mythology-expressed as-“secular” ideology called Declinism- the dominant belief system of the climate alarm movement. So Bill you need to turn that blunt condemnation of crazy religiosity on yourself also. With your climate alarmism you have embraced the very same “mass delusion” that you rightly condemn in fundamentalist religious movements. Yes Bill, “you are at religion” also.
Bill, the movement that you affirm is just as irrationally apocalyptic as the most primitive mythologies and religions that you excoriate. Your environmental alarmism promotes the very same core themes of all apocalyptic across history- myths of a better past (original paradise), of corrupt people that ruined the original paradise, and myths of life declining toward something worse, toward some great collapse and ending.
Listen to the leading prophets of your climate alarmism movement: Congresswoman AOC prophesied in 2018 that the world would end in 12 years. Father of climate alarmism, James Hansen, prophesied in 2008, “Its all over in five years”. Al Gore has claimed that “We are now living through the apocalypse of Revelation”. John Kerry stated recently that the climate conference this year (2021) is “our last chance”. Endless prophesying of the end-of-days. The always imminent element in apocalyptic (up ahead just a few years or decades) justifies alarmist calls to shut down or overrule normal democratic processes because there is no time to waste.
Having alarmed populations and aroused people’s survival impulse, the apocalyptics then push a required salvation scheme- urgent action “to save the world”. That involves coercively purging the thing that they claim threatens life. All apocalyptic movements advocate for coercive and violent purging of something that they claim is threatening their world with disastrous collapse and ending. Violent purging of a threatening “evil” began with Zoroastrianism and was then passed on to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In climate apocalyptic the great threat is industrial civilization based on fossil fuels. Climate apocalyptic lasers in on irrationally demonized CO2 as the threat to life- the very food of all life that Maher has absurdly claimed is “poisonous gas”. The policy response that will accomplish the purging? Decarbonization of our societies.
The destructive outcomes of this foolish policy response are already being felt among the poorest people. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/02/05/shafting-the-poor/ and https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/02/05/uk-carbon-tax-to-drive-up-the-cost-of-gas-heating-milk-and-beef/
The costly purging is presented as a necessary sacrifice to appease an angry Mother Earth (or vengeful Gaia, angry Planet, retributive Universe, payback karma). Climate apocalyptics claim that the purging of the threatening “evil” that is fossil fuels, and the related sacrifice of human wellbeing, is unavoidable in order to save the world. The sacrifice is necessary to appease some angered deity and restore the lost paradise.
Different terms (“secularized terms”) are used by Declinist true believers like Maher but the core themes that he embraces differ not a whit from the more primitive past versions, just like those of his fellow true believers in apocalyptic Christianity. Yes, Bill Maher is “at religion”.
Sources: Historians/scholars have detailed how modern “secular” movements like environmental alarmism have embraced primitive apocalyptic themes (apocalyptic millennialism). See Arthur Herman’s “The Idea of Decline in Western History”, Richard Landes’ “Heaven on Earth”, Arthur Mendel’s “Vision and Violence”, and David Redles’ “Hitler’s Millennial Reich”.
Quotes from “Why I Am a Climate Realist” by Vijay Jayaraj https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/02/18/why-i-am-a-climate-realist/
“So, I am a climate realist. I acknowledge that there has been a gradual increase in global average temperature since the end of the Little Ice Age in the 17th century. I acknowledge that climate change can happen in both ways—warming and cooling. I do understand that anthropogenic CO2 emissions and other greenhouse gases could have positively contributed to the warming from mid-20th century onwards.
“I also acknowledge that warming and the increased atmospheric carbon dioxide that has contributed to it have actually helped society. The current atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, nearly 50 percent higher than in the 17th century, and the warming—which has occurred chiefly in winter, in higher latitudes and altitudes, and at night, thus raising cold temperatures but with little effect on hot temperatures—have actually resulted in optimal conditions for global plant growth, thus aiding in the flourishing of the agricultural sector.
“The Bengal tiger populations have bounced back, and polar bear populations are steady, thanks to conservation efforts. Forest area in Europe is increasing every year, and countries are planting tree saplings at a record rate. Life expectancy has reached all-time highs in many countries, and more people are constantly pulled out of extreme poverty every year (although business lockdowns to fight COVID-19 threaten to reverse that trend). Access to freshwater has improved and human productivity has increased drastically.
“So, there is no actual climate emergency. Instead, what we have celebrities, activists, un-elected political bodies like the UN, and even some climate scientists religiously promoting a popular doomsday belief…”
Thinking of Texas
The world still suffers from the abnormal cold of the ice-age era that we have been in for the last few million years. 15-20 times as many people die every year from cold than die from warmth. And animal/fish habitats are still severely restricted due to cold average temperatures. The habitats with the most species diversity, where life flourishes the most, are in the warmer areas of our planet.
But thanks to the mild one degree C of warming over the past century, and more plant food (CO2) in the atmosphere, there have been some beneficial outcomes for life on earth. 2020 saw crop yields breaking records and that is a boon for a growing world population. We now produce 25% more food than we need. Wilderness areas have also seen an amazing increase in green biomass (some 30% increase in green vegetation over the past century due to more C02). We have also witnessed notable declines in droughts and wildfires, no increase in severe storms (hurricanes, tornadoes), and a century of stunning declines in human deaths from natural disasters. Sea level rise continues at the rate of about 2mm (0.08 inches) per year. That is not a threat.
Earth will continue to benefit from more warmth and more plant food in the atmosphere. Remember, CO2 had descended to its lowest levels in Earth’s history over the past 150 million years. It was dangerously low in the pre-industrial era and plant life had suffered.
Critical points in the climate debate:
Climate change is occurring. There is consensus on this. And CO2 has contributed to climate warming. But the 1 degree C warming of the past century has been beneficial to life in our cold ice-age era. Further, climate physicists tell us that CO2 has reached “saturation”. Its ability to absorb and re-emit radiation has declined logarithmically (see summaries in sections below). More CO2 in the atmosphere will have little further warming influence, perhaps contributing to just one or two degrees more warming. That will be further beneficial to life, extending animal/fish habitats to colder areas. The greening of our world will continue.
Point? There is no ‘climate emergency’ and no need to fear more CO2 and more warmth. There is no need to ban fossil fuels and decarbonize our societies.
Good science on the long-term history and actual state of our world overturns the alarmist narrative entirely.