Section comments below: ‘Three nasty inherited animal impulses’- i.e. tribal exclusion, alpha domination, and retaliatory destruction. Counter these with ‘Three markers of authentic humanity’- i.e. the humane impulses to embrace the fundamental oneness of our human family, to respect the freedom and self-determination of others, and restorative justice toward all human imperfection. Also, ‘Patterns in alarmism movements, and outcomes’. Then- ‘Two best things happening today’- more plant food during an era of plant starvation, and more beneficial warmth during a sub-optimal ice-age era; ‘Theological musing’- purging pathology in deity theories; ‘Reflexive skepticism, not denial’; ‘Fear and social control’; ‘The never-ending end times prophesies’ of alarmism movements; ‘Deeper roots of alarmism in apocalyptic mythology’; and ‘Overturning threat theology’.
Many have commented on the “creeping totalitarianism” notable in things like ‘cancel culture’ and its intolerance of human diversity, freedom of speech, and alternative views. See also material below on ‘fear and social control’ (News media and the promotion of crisis/catastrophe).
US liberals warn of the intolerance of cancel culture- https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/maher-panel-blasts-cancel-culture. Conrad Black on Collectivists finding new life for their anti-industrial society crusade- eco-alarmism- https://nationalpost.com/opinion/black080120
From original apocalyptic to contemporary alarmism: The never-ending embrace of despair and nihilism. The worst ideas that we have inherited from primitive minds continue to shape our modern narratives and consciousness.
Orienting comments: An important question- Why do so many of us continue to believe the alarmist scenarios of environmental collapse and destruction? Why the stubborn persistence of many to focus on the darker side of life, to believe the worst scenarios will happen, and then to promote fear, despite the fact that apocalyptic has never come to pass (The 100% failure rate across history)? And to the contrary, amassed evidence shows that life continues to improve on all fronts (see sources below).
I would argue that many embrace apocalyptic catastrophism because of the residual influence of the apocalyptic complex of ideas that has been beaten into human consciousness since the beginning, starting back in prehistory. That complex is now embedded in the human subconscious. Those myths distort life entirely but they continue to shape our outlook today, and orient many of us to reflexively believe that the worst will happen.
For one, early people, following their primal impulse for meaning (i.e. to understand and explain life) misinterpreted the imperfection of the world as punishment for human imperfection. They believed that the world was created originally perfect (i.e. original paradise or golden age myths) but the ancestors became corrupted and then committed an original error/sin that caused the ruin of the original paradise. Hence, the subsequent ruin of life (e.g. disease, suffering, death) was punishment for humanity’s sin. These mythical themes are common across all the cultures of the world.
That line of thinking led to the early creation of an entire complex of ideas to explain life- i.e. that the core reality (deity) was a punitive, destroying God who would ultimately mete out justice in a great final punishment and destruction (the apocalypse) that would end this messed up world. Based on that ultimate ideal and authority of punitive, destroying deity, human views of justice were then defined in terms of punitive retaliation for human imperfection.
There are numerous other wrong assumptions in such mythology that have shaped all human narratives since the beginning, in both religious and now secular/ideological traditions.
Most critical in the mix is the assumption that the core of reality and life is something punitive and destructive- a deity that metes out retaliatory justice (i.e. punitive, destroying justice). Add to this the assumption that humanity is something essentially sinful, that we are ‘bad to the bone’, and we therefore deserve the punishment and destruction that is coming to us as “justice”. Our sense of guilt/shame over our imperfection leaves us feeling that we deserve the worst. This is a profoundly anti-human set of mythical assumptions. Additionally, we hold the deeply embedded feeling that we are obligated to make some payment, some sacrifice or atonement, and suffer something as our just payback.
Hope is also built into religious versions of this primitive mythology, but it is a seriously deformed hope that is based on the idea of the total destruction of the world that now exists, and on retaliation against our enemies. The book of Revelation illustrates these themes- i.e. after God destroys the world that exists and exacts vengeance on the enemies of Christians, then the true believers will be ‘saved’ into a heavenly paradise. Hope for salvation/restoration is based on this nihilist vision of the destruction of all.
Secular versions of this mythology played out in Marxism and Nazism- i.e. the need to violently purge the corrupt system that exists (via apocalypse), to destroy it entirely so that the lost paradise or promised utopia could be installed, whether in restored Collectivism/Communalism, or in a millennial Reich (note the apocalyptic/millennial scholars below who have detailed the presence of these themes in Marxism and Nazism). Environmentalism also embraces apocalyptic millennialism in its promise that after purging industrial society the lost paradise of a wilderness world can be restored.
These pathological mythical themes continue to dominate human meta-narratives as widely believed background features. The apocalyptic complex distorts and buries the true story of life that has been an ever-improving trajectory of progress. Apocalyptic also distorts the basic goodness of humanity, a goodness that has been emerging and developing across the millennia and is evident in our solving problems and making our world ever better. We need to confront the entire complex of bad ideas with better alternatives.
Further: Others have noted that science by itself (empirical evidence) does not appear to change minds regarding catastrophism scenarios. Scientific fact is critical to respond to alarmism but we have to recognize that such evidence does not entirely or fully deal with the myths, and the issues of meaning, that are behind the age-old human tendency to believe that the worst is coming. You have to also deal with those mythical themes (i.e. punitive, destroying Ultimate Reality) that have long been foundational to human narratives, both religious and secular. You have to offer better alternatives that meet the same primal needs for meaning.
My full response to the entire apocalyptic complex is presented in “Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives”, in sections further below.
A brief history of apocalyptic
Go to the root of the problem. Deal with the single worst idea to have ever entered human consciousness- the myth of apocalyptic punishment and destruction. It has caused incalculable damage across history. Apocalyptic embodies the foundational pathology of punitive, destroying deity and that deformity in humanity’s highest ideal and authority then incites unnecessary fear, anxiety, shame/guilt, and despair. Idealizing divine violence in apocalyptic then validates the worst impulses in people to retaliate, punish, and destroy.
Apocalyptic may be the oldest of all human myths/beliefs. Mythical and religious versions of apocalyptic embrace the idea of a great divine intervention to end the world. Such an intervention would be the final judgment, punishment, and destruction of life, specifically of humanity.
Apocalyptic is part of a larger complex of related myths that include the following: There was an original paradise but early people ruined that paradise (i.e. they committed an original error or sin). The natural world and life were then corrupted with diverse miseries such as thorns, disease, and death. After the original ruin of perfection, life entered a trajectory of decline toward some great end-time disaster.
Having embraced the myth of looming end-time threat, human survival urgency was then directed toward finding salvation and toward purging life of the evil that angered the gods and threatened life. The essential anti-humanism of apocalyptic is expressed in the belief that humanity in human civilization is the locus of evil in the world.
Human guilt over the original sin, and the related ruin of paradise, has long convinced people to accept that humanity deserved punishment, even apocalyptic destruction. In response, people have long felt obligated to make some sacrifice to appease the angered deities. Humanity could then find salvation in a restored or new paradise/utopia.
These ancient mythical themes also embodied the primal human impulse for heroic adventure, an impulse that could play out in righteous battles against evil enemies and the urge to bring salvation, to heroically save something that was under threat from evil forces. Much like Don Quixote riding forth on a donkey to slay dragons and save maidens.
The line of descent over history
We find evidence of these apocalyptic themes already in pre-history (John Pfeiffer in Explosion: An inquiry into the origins of art and religion). Pfeiffer notes there may have been the belief in an original golden age or paradise perhaps as early as 100,000 years ago. Years ago, I took a closer look at the previous interglacial- the Eemian- that ended about 105,000 years ago, maybe abruptly (i.e. over a few centuries). That decline into a colder world would have left primitive people with memories of a better past and the sense that things were getting worse. The belief that life is declining toward something worse is basic to apocalyptic mythology.
We then find apocalyptic myths in the earliest human writing and temple art (around 5000 years ago) and embraced widely across the ancient world. In Sumerian/Akkadian/Babylonian literature we find the belief in an original paradise that was located in the mythical city of Dilmun. But the early god-man Enki ate the 8 forbidden plants and he was punished with the introduction of illness, and paradise was lost. The Sumerian Flood myth also presents the ideas of divine punishment and the total destruction of humanity.
Early Egypt also expressed apocalyptic in its myths of ‘The Destruction of Mankind’ and ‘The Return of Chaos’. Hindu religion embodied apocalyptic in its great cycles of rise and then decline toward total destruction. Buddhism joined the apocalyptic trend when it embraced the apocalyptic idea of life declining in its belief that the human lifespan decreased over time (Mircea Eliade in ‘The History of Religious Ideas’).
The scattered mythical themes of the primitive past were then formalized in a more coherent apocalyptic complex by the Persian prophet Zoroaster around 1500 CE. Zoroaster framed his apocalyptic theology in terms of a great cosmic dualism of good versus evil, of right versus wrong. He also gave expression to the theme of ultimate justice in that the Good God, Ahura Mazda, would violently purge the evil forces of darkness so the lost paradise could be re-established in a new world. Right and purity would win in the end. In the meantime, people were obligated to embrace tribal dualism- to join the true religion and oppose false religion (i.e. their enemies).
Apocalyptic was then embraced by late Judaism around the second to first centuries BCE. And from there it passed into Christianity in Paul’s great apocalyptic Christ myth (see, for example, his Thessalonian letters). The letters of Peter also promoted the theme of apocalypse. Paul’s Christ myth is most singularly responsible for bringing the myth of apocalyptic into the modern world, especially into Western consciousness.
Embedded in Christianity, apocalyptic then descended down into 19th Century Declinism (see Arthur Herman’s ‘The Idea of Decline in Western History’). Herman notes only two ideas in the apocalyptic complex of themes- i.e. original paradise lost and the demand for violent purging of evil. But his treatment of Declinism reveals the presence of the full complex of apocalyptic themes, notably in Declinist belief that life/society will collapse and come to an end.
Note the historical shift that occurs with the development of the “ideology” of Declinism. Apocalyptic myth is given “secular, ideological” expression for the modern world. The terms and arguments may all seem “secular, rational” but in their essential content and meaning they are still the same old themes, the same old myths and religious beliefs of all past history.
Once again, the apocalyptic complex but now in secular form: The past was better (original paradise), corrupt people have ruined the paradise and now life is declining toward something worse, toward some great collapse and ending. Corrupt, greedy people in industrial civilization are destroying the natural world paradise. The threat of looming apocalypse incites people to violently purge the evil threat in order to save their world and restore the lost paradise or achieve some utopia.
Apocalyptic Declinism then influenced the mass-death movements of Marxism (100 million deaths) and Nazism (50-60 million deaths). Arthur Mendel is right that “apocalyptic is the most violent and destructive idea in history” (Vision and Violence). Mendel, along with the other apocalyptic millennial scholars, Richard Landes (Heaven on Earth) and David Redles (Hitler’s Millennial Reich), have traced the influence of apocalyptic ideas on Marxism, Nazism, and environmentalism.
Marxist apocalyptic millennialism argued that humanity had lost the original paradise of hunter/gatherer communal society and had declined into capitalist industrial society and was heading for disastrous collapse. Salvation was to be found in the violent purging of this capitalist society in order to restore the lost communalism or collective. Nazi apocalyptic argued that Germany had lost its original pure culture and was declining toward collapse under the threat of Jewish Bolshevism. Salvation would be found in purging this apocalyptic threat in order to enter the millennial paradise of the Third Reich.
Apocalyptic now dominates contemporary environmentalism with its endless end-of-days prophesies, notably in relation to climate alarmism. Examples: Senator AOC prophesying in 2018 that we only have 12 years to the end of the world. Or father of global warming alarmism, James Hansen, prophesying in 2008 that “Its all over in five years”. Obama’s science advisor, John Holdren, prophesied that one billion people would die by 2020. Even Stephen Hawking joined the apocalyptic brigade in the last two years of his life, prophesying the end in 100 years. The element of apocalyptic is endlessly projected onto real problems to profoundly distort the true state of things.
Apocalyptic is a profoundly mythical or religious idea. It is not scientific despite alarmist claims that they are just “following the science”. Apocalyptic has been beaten into human consciousness for so many millennia that it is now hardwired in human subconscious and has become an essential element in the background of human grand narratives.
Most violent and destructive idea in history? Yes. Apocalyptic alarmism incites the survival desperation in populations, rendering people susceptible to alarmist salvation schemes- to save themselves, or to save the world. People are then willing to embrace the salvationist demand for coercive purging of some threat and that leads to abandoning democratic processes. That has resulted in endeavors to shame, ban, silence, and even criminalize opponents/skeptics to the alarmist movements. Notably, President Obama’s AG, Loretta Lynch, tried to criminalize skeptical science in 2016.
The ever-present claim that the apocalypse is always ‘imminent’ pushes advocates to urge for coercive “instantaneous transformation” of societies and that leaves no option but violence. Apocalyptics argue that there is no more time for the slow and messy processes of democratic freedom with its open debate, disagreement and challenge, empirical observation of long-term trends, and falsification protocols.
Mass-death outcomes? Add the following environmental example to the outcomes of the Marxist and Nazi apocalyptic mass-death movements. The mother of modern environmentalism, Rachel Carson, employed an apocalyptic narrative in Silent Spring and that influenced the ban on DDT that resulted in millions of unnecessary deaths in subsequent decades. The argument for rapid “decarbonization” of our societies will further cause immense suffering and death. The outcomes of apocalyptic narratives show that promoting apocalyptic is the most irresponsible and dangerousness thing that anyone can engage.
Further, basic empathy should make alarmists aware of the malady they have created of “eco-anxiety” among children. And with major sections of the world population believing that we are heading toward some great disastrous ending, is it any wonder that depression is the world’s number one illness. Julian Simon also noted that environmental alarmism fosters fatalism and resignation in populations, and renders children fearful of the world that they are inhabiting (Ultimate Resource).
Apocalyptic continues to dominate modern story-telling in Hollywood movies (100 major movies over a recent decade were oriented to apocalyptic), TV, and literature (note the sub-genre of post-apocalyptic). News media compete with Hollywood to promote alarmist apocalyptic scenarios (see David Altheide’s Creating Fear: News and the construction of crisis).
History has endlessly proven apocalyptic to be entirely wrong (a 100% historical failure rate). Apocalyptic distorts the true state of the world and the true state of life, the true trajectory of life. The trajectory of life has been improving since the beginning, not declining. We see this progress toward something ever better in the overall cosmos and the history of life on Earth (see Harold Morowitz’s ‘The Emergence of Everything’ and Brian Green’s ‘The Universe Story’). Julian Simon (again, Ultimate Resource), and many others, have detailed the evidence on the major features of life and noted the ongoing improvement in all those areas. The true state of life reveals a trajectory of irreversible progress and advance and that provides sound evidence for rational hope (see also Humanprogress.org). The true state of life is entirely opposite to apocalyptic narratives.
Most critical to note: Rational evidence-based hope is vital to the promotion of love, peace, and cooperation among populations.
Apocalyptic is the most primitive and destructive idea ever conceived by nihilist minds. It still rules many modern minds with an updated set of punitive, destroying gods- e.g. vengeful Gaia, angry Planet, pissed Mother Earth, retributive Universe, or payback karma. These are still the same old, same old, but now just “secularized” versions of apocalyptic deities.
Apocalyptic is not scientific. It is the worst of dangerous mythical nonsense. Apocalyptic has long been an essential part of human grand narratives that validate coercion against imagined threats, violence toward others (the ‘enemies’ in tribal dualisms of good versus evil), and nihilist destruction. When you define humanity’s highest ideal and authority with ideas of ultimate retaliation against wrong, with ultimate violent punishment and total destruction, how do you think that influences thought, emotion, and response? Apocalyptic coercion and violence in our highest ideals orients minds to basic survival activism that legitimates the same coercion and violence in life. Such apocalyptic alarmism promotes the worst emotions in people to fear, anxiety, despair, and depression, and to desperation to save themselves, to save the world that they believe is about to end.
Example: The apocalyptic movement ISIS, believing that the end was nigh and God was about to return to destroy all his enemies in the apocalypse, then engaged violence to spark off the final battle (Armageddon) and to help God get the end-of-days going and destroy all God’s enemies.
The ultimate response to apocalyptic must confront the core theme behind apocalyptic- that of punitive, destroying deity. This must be countered with the stunning insight from spiritual traditions that the core reality is something radically opposite- i.e. our creating Source is love, an inexpressibly wondrous ‘no conditions love’. There is no threat of ultimate retaliation, exclusion, punishment or destruction in such reality.
And related to this- we, in our core human spirit, are the very same love. Essential to life’s purpose is to learn to express our true human self that is love. We do so in all that diverse people contribute to making life better in some way. Joseph Campbell pointed to this in his comments that we mature as human when we orient our lives to universal love, we are then fulfilling our true nature as human. We then become the heroes of our story, conquering the real monster and enemy in life, the monster inside us- the animal passions.
Note: Defenders of apocalyptic claim that it expresses the hope of justice in defeating one’s enemies and it consoles true believers with the hope of consequent salvation/liberation. But what kind of hope bases itself on the defeat, domination, and destruction of others (i.e. affirming the tribal dualism of true believers versus unbelievers and the total destruction of unbelievers)?
Another note: Rethink the core themes of our inherited narratives. Apocalyptic mythology arises from the human struggle for meaning- to understand and explain life in a messy world. It responds to the primal human question of why there is imperfection in this world, why there is so much suffering. The ancients concluded, wrongly, that the world must have been created originally perfect but our ancestors messed it up. They were bad to the bone and that is our heritage also. We, as also fallen or sinful creatures, now deserve to be punished also for destroying the natural world paradise.
This line of thinking embraces the myth of a God obsessed with perfection and imperfection and with punishing imperfection. But there has never been any such reality as cosmic or worldly perfection or a deity obsessed with perfection and punishing it. Imperfection has been essential to creation from the beginning. Hence, we have to rethink entirely our grand narrative explanations and conclusions about reality and its meaning or purpose.
Humanity has always been fundamentally good (the historically emerging and maturing human spirit) and the history of life shows our goodness emerging in that we have solved problems and made things ever better across the millennia. A new narrative of life would embrace the possibility that this world exists as an arena for human struggle with imperfection, that we learn from such struggle, and that we consequently grow and develop as maturing humans. But fundamentally, we can conclude that we are not being punished by greater Forces or Spirits/deities for our remaining imperfection. Our ongoing history of conquering imperfection in ourselves and in the world is something to celebrate.
(Note: The darker side of humanity can be understood in terms of our animal inheritance with its dark impulses to tribal division and exclusion, alpha domination, and the destruction of competing others/enemies. But the decline in rates of violence over human history show that we are succeeding in conquering the residual animal. This is the real battle of good against evil- the one that takes place inside each of us, the human against the animal.)
Finally, teach your children well… build optimism in them.
Sources of evidence on the improving trajectory of life and civilization: Start with the single best book ever written- Julian Simon’s Ultimate Resource. Then read similarly evidence-dense material in Greg Easterbrook’s A Moment On The Earth, Bjorn Lomborg’s Skeptical Environmentalist, Indur Goklany’s The Improving State Of The World, Matt Ridley’s Rational Optimist, Ronald Bailey’s The End of Doom, Desrocher and Szurmak’s Population Bombed (an excellent update on Simon’s work), and Factfulness by Hans Rosling.
“I decided to speak out last year, after it became clear to me that alarmism was harming mental health. A major survey of 30,000 people around the world found that nearly half believed climate change would make humanity extinct. Mental-health professionals now routinely find themselves addressing adolescent anxiety over climate. In January, pollsters found that one in five UK children reported having nightmares about it”, Michael Shellenberger commenting in The New York Post on his new book ‘Apocalypse Never: Why environmental alarmism hurts us all’.
Quotes from David Atheide’s ‘Creating Fear: News and the Construction of Crisis’. Altheide notes that we are confronted with an increase in narratives of fear, much due to news media focus, exaggeration, and distortion.
“The mass media and popular culture are the most important contributors to fear. The pervasive use of fear in public documents and discourse has helped create a perspective or frame for viewing the world in an entertaining way that is shared by many members of our society… (this major paradox exists)… we are living longer with more secure and comfortable lifestyles than at any other time in history… yet we have the most fear and uncertainty about life…
“My research indicates that more of our narratives involve fear. Fear appeared in more headlines and news reports in the mid-1990s than in the 1980s… For the majority of people, the mass media shape identities and narratives… Fear as a perspective is expanding in social life… Fear is more widely used because news organizations and news sources benefit from it…
“News sources, and especially social control agencies (e.g. police departments) have adjusted their messages to comply with the media logic and entertainment format criteria of news organizations. Consequently, news reports and social control work have become joined through mass communication organizations…
“Murray Edelman, argued that ‘crises’ are simply certain events that are defined in a certain way and promoted to serve the political interests of leaders… ‘crisis’ is oriented to a decisionmaker’s audience and to convince the audience to allow the leader to take decisive action. Fear is used increasingly to define crises and to bump along those claims so that leaders can take political action against ‘external enemies’ or ‘internal enemies’….
“The mass media, and especially the news media, are the main source and tool used to ‘soften up’ the audience, to prepare them to accept the justificatory account of the coming action… Fear is part of social control… Directing fear in a society is tantamount to controlling that society. Every age has its fears, every ruler has his/her enemies, every sovereign places blame and every citizen learns about these as propaganda. The key is to recognize the process and not get captivated with the ‘bogeyman’ of choice in any particular time.”
There is a lot of good robust debate in the public market of ideas on the common shared values that populations can widely agree on and that hold societies together. Here is some input on that discussion…
3 nasty impulses to watch. 3 humane impulses to embrace and affirm (counters to the nasty). Or- What are the most basic common shared values for human society? What most fundamentally defines us as human? Keeping it short for clarity’s sake (for site visitors from diverse countries).
The ‘unconditional treatment of all’ offers an inspiring and guiding ideal that is the most potent counter to the three fundamental animal impulses noted below. Unconditional as a guiding meta-ideal (shaping all other belief, all ethics) offers the safest route through life, the approach that will cause the least harm to others. An orientation to unconditional is the single most potent preventative against harming others. And the embrace of unconditional is the most foundational marker of authentic humanity. It most broadly and pointedly answers the question- What does it mean to be human?
First, three things summarize the worst of the inherited animal in us. These three are the primary markers of animal-like thinking, feeling, behavior, and relating. I am using the descriptive “animal” to emphasize the primitive and subhuman nature of these features.
Laser in on these three fundamental things, whether they are expressed in ideas, themes, perspectives, feeling/impulses, responses, or actions. They can be found behind many of today’s problems (e.g. racial issues, political polarization):
(1) The tribal or small-band mentality and spirit that views others as outsiders, devalued persons, enemies, and excludes them. (2) The alpha impulse to dominate, interfere, manipulate, coerce, and control others that differ. And (3) punitive, destructive retaliation or justice toward the imperfect and differing other.
Counter the above inherited animal impulses/drives with the following markers of authentic or mature humanity. The best of our common human spirit- notably the feature of unconditional- orients us to these more humane views/impulses. An unconditional core ideal most potently counters the three worst impulses that we have inherited to tribal exclusion, domination, and retaliatory destruction of others.
(1) Embrace the fundamental oneness of the human family, that we are all part of one common reality and that means the inclusion of every person as a full equal. (2) Respect and protect the freedom, diversity, and self-determination of all others. And (3) treat all human imperfection and failure with restorative or rehabilitative justice approaches (i.e. with forgiveness and mercy, but also with necessary restraint of violence, and full restitution for victims).
Notes: More than ever we need to re-emphasize and protect the many other common shared values that relate to the above core three, notably, the messy and slow democratic processes that embrace the diverse views of all and protect the right to skepticism on all issues, the right to challenge all things, the right to open and ongoing debate (no issue is ever final and closed), and complete freedom of speech, even offensive speech (i.e. the view of Classic Liberalism that “I might disagree with your views/speech- it may be offensive to me- but I will die to protect your right to such views/speech”).
Another: Classic Liberalism protected the natural freedom of all, only permitting state interference (restraint) in people’s lives if they were assaulting others (i.e. protecting all from assault). Kind of Liberatianish.
See Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore’s presentation on “Celebrating CO2”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0Z5FdwWw_c
Patterns and outcomes to watch in alarmist movements
First, alarmism exaggerates real problems that must be confronted and solved. Alarmism exaggerates such problems to apocalyptic-scale, speculating far beyond evidence, with “end-of-days” scenarios and prophesies. This is being done today with climate alarmism and the claims that we face a “climate crisis or catastrophe”. That exaggeration distorts the true state of things. Julian Simon in Ultimate Resource showed us how to get to the true state of something- include the complete big picture evidence on the thing under consideration, and note the longest-term trends associated with that thing (e.g. paleo-climate history as vital to understanding climate).
Alarmist exaggeration then arouses the survival impulse in populations, rendering people susceptible to alarmist salvationist solutions. And this is the most irresponsible and dangerous feature of alarmist crusades- to claim that we must save the world or save life because it is under dire threat. Alarmist salvationism then unleashes the totalitarian impulse in scared people.
Alarmism claims that the threat to life or the world is always “imminent”, the apocalypse is just up ahead a few years or decades, just over the horizon (the latest “end of days” climate scenario claims 2030 as the final date). The imminence of threat justifies abandoning normal democratic processes and banning open debate and skepticism. Skeptics to alarmist scenarios are shamed, personally attacked (e.g. labelled “Holocaust deniers”), silenced, fired/cancelled, and even subject to criminalization- e.g. Obama’s AG, Loretta Lynch, trying to criminalize skeptical science in 2016.
The claimed imminence of some threat affirms the alarmist’s demand for “coercive purging” of the threat (use of state force against opponents/skeptics), along with the tempting promise of “instantaneous transformation” of society to restore some imagined lost paradise or grant entrance to a utopian future. “Coercive purging” is argued today as necessary against the threat from CO2 and hence the programs that are presented to fully ‘decarbonize’ our societies in the next years/decades.
The outcomes of alarmist eruptions have never been good, and have often been harmful, more harmful than the original purported problem. Alarmist salvation schemes have actually harmed the environment that they claim to care for. Example: note the outcome of more deforestation that resulted from the bio-fuels movement. Decarbonization will prove more destructive than any alarmist policy yet promoted.
Other strands to note in alarmism eruptions:
Alarmist movements promote guilt over human success and the achievement of the “good life”. This reveals the anti-humanism of environmental alarmism- their embrace of the myth of essential human corruption or “sinfulness”, that humanity is a cancer or virus on the planet and that all we do is destructive of the pristine natural world. Hence, we deserve punishment.
Add here the myth that there is some great punitive, destroying Force or deity behind the natural world and that natural disaster/disease are evidence of those angry spirits punishing bad people.
Also, note the same old feature of ‘anti-industrial society’ Marxism in the mix of environmental alarmism- i.e. that capitalist, technological civilization is essentially greed-oriented (free self-determination exists in opposition to greater or common good) and therefore industrial society is an evil to be purged. Sources: Arthur Herman’s ‘The Idea of Decline in Western Civilization’, and Michael Hart’s ‘Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics, and Politics of Climate Change’, among others.
Further, and most critical, be aware of the enduring fallacy of apocalyptic mythology in the mix of alarmism. This fallacy is the “most destructive idea in history” (Arthur Mendel in ‘Vision and Violence’) and it continues as a prominent theme in world religions, also in ideologies like Declinism and its offspring- environmental alarmism.
The two best things happening today– rising CO2 levels and the warming of Earth’s average surface temperatures have resulted in life flourishing and a much greener Earth.
Climate activists, news media, and politicians claim that rising CO2 levels and rising average temperatures are the two most threatening things happening on Earth today. I would argue to the contrary that they are the two best things happening on Earth today. How so?
Basic plant food
CO2 levels have been dangerously low over the past few million years of our ice-age era and this has stressed plant life. Over the past several hundred thousand years, CO2 levels have even dipped below 200 ppm, once down to 180 ppm. Plant life dies at 150 ppm. Normal and optimal levels of CO2 over the last 500 million years were in the multiple thousands of ppm. https://www.thegwpf.com/video-of-patrick-moores-gwpf-lecture-should-we-celebrate-co2/
During the Cambrian era life exploded with CO2 levels over 5000 ppm. There was no harm to life, or catastrophic collapse, with CO2 in multiple-thousands of ppm. Instead, life flourished.
“During the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods when our most useful plants evolved, CO2 levels were about five times higher than today… Our crop plants evolved about 400 million years ago, when CO2 in the atmosphere was about 5000 parts per million! Our evergreen trees and shrubs evolved about 360 million years ago, with CO2 levels at about 4,000 ppm. When our deciduous trees evolved about 160 million years ago, the CO2 level was about 2,200 ppm – still five times the current level”, (http://co2coalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Rising_CO2__Food-Security-2-21-19-1.pdf).
Contemporary plant response to more food
With the slight rise in CO2 levels from pre-industrial 285 ppm to the 400-plus ppm of today there has been a 14% increase in green vegetation across the Earth over the past 30-40 years. This is the equivalent to adding land covered in green vegetation twice the size of the mainland US. https://www.thegwpf.com/matt-ridley-rejoice-in-the-lush-global-greening/. Other studies note that there has been a “31 percent increase in global terrestrial gross primary production since 1900” (Matt Ridley “Against Environmental Pessimism” at PERC). In light of this incredible news on the massive greening of Earth, where are the celebrating Greens, the self-proclaimed advocates for a greener world?
A warming planet is a more optimal planet
There has been only a mild 1 degree Centigrade warming over the past century. This is part of the longer warming trend that began 300 years ago when Earth began to emerge out of the bitter cold of the Little Ice Age of 1645-1715. This longer warming trend is due to natural influences on climate, and that did not change during the past century (i.e. the same natural factors continue to overwhelmingly influence the present phase of this 300-year-long period of warming).
Our current world average surface temperature of 14.5 degrees Centigrade is still far below the normal and optimum 19.5 degrees C. average of the past hundreds of millions of years. For over 90% of the past 500 million years there has been no ice at the poles. That is a more normal and healthy Earth. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/01/03/earths-ice-ages/
With much higher average temperatures in the past there was no “climate catastrophe” or threat to life. To the contrary, life flourished.
A much warmer Earth will not “fry” because the planet has an efficient energy distribution system where heat rises at the tropics and is carried north and south toward the poles. In a warming world the Equator does not become excessively hotter but rather the colder regions warm more and that benefits all life with extended habitats and less severe storminess because of less severe gradients between warm and cold regions. https://scied.ucar.edu/learning-zone/how-weather-works/global-air-atmospheric-circulation. In a warmer world there is also less difference between seasonal temperatures and between night and day temperatures.
Note also that researchers have discovered tropical tree stumps in the Arctic from past warmer eras. The more recent discovery of tropical tree stumps in Antarctica further corroborates the evidence of tropical forests in the pole regions. That evidence affirms the much warmer world of most of the past 500 million years with average 19.5 degrees Centigrade world surface temperatures versus the average 14.5 degrees Centigrade of today’s much colder world. Again, a much warmer world means vastly extended habitats for life, not a “frying” world that destroys life.
Physicist Freeman Dyson summarizes this uneven distribution of warming in the following: “’Global warming’. This phrase is misleading because the warming caused by the greenhouse effect of increased carbon dioxide is not evenly distributed. In humid air, the effect of carbon dioxide on the transport of heat by radiation is less important, because it is outweighed by the much larger greenhouse effect of water vapor. The effect of carbon dioxide is more important where the air is dry and air is usually dry only where it is cold. The warming mainly occurs where air is cold and dry, mainly in the arctic rather than in the tropics, mainly in winter rather than in summer, and mainly at night rather than in daytime. The warming is real, but it is mostly making cold places warmer rather than making hot places hotter. To represent this local warming by a global average is misleading because the global average is only a fraction of a degree while the local warming at high latitudes is much larger” (The Scientist as Rebel).
Remember too that cold weather kills 10-20 times more people every year than heat does. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/12/20/moderate-cold-kills/, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150520193831.htm.
Plants, animals, and humans are benefiting immensely from this massive greening of our planet and the return to more normal and optimal conditions for all life. “Average increase of 46% of crop biomass owing to increased CO2 fertilization”, Gregory Whitestone on Craig Idso research. See http://www.co2science.org/data/plant_growth/plantgrowth.php
Further, the actual influence of CO2 on climate warming is still not settled because many other natural factors have shown a stronger influence on climate and stronger correlations to the climate change that we have seen over the past few centuries (i.e. cosmic ray/sun/cloud interaction, ocean/atmosphere relationship).
Fact: There is no good evidence to support fear of looming catastrophe (i.e. “climate crisis”) in a warmer planet with much higher levels of CO2. The benefits of more plant food and more warmth outweigh any potential negatives.
Consequent to this evidence, there is no good scientific reason for people to decrease their use of fossil fuels or to ban them. It is unscientific and irrational to “decarbonize” our societies or to embrace policies such as carbon taxes. CO2 is not a pollutant or poison that must be restrained. It is the most basic food of life and it has been in desperately short supply for millions of years. We should celebrate with all plant and animal life at the greening of our planet.
The above evidence affirms that there is no climate apocalypse on the horizon.
See also Global Warming Policy Forum report on natural variability: https://www.thegwpf.com/climate-models-no-warming-for-30-years-possibly/?utm_source=CCNet+Newsletter&utm_campaign=e017a905d6-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_07_15_12_09_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fe4b2f45ef-e017a905d6-20139177&mc_cid=e017a905d6&mc_eid=bbd9cad85f
Insert: Craig Idso, scientist with the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, regarding the EPA Endangerment Finding for Greenhouse Gases (2009) and his petition to repeal the Finding:
“Multiple observations made over the past decade confirm the projected risks and adverse consequences of rising greenhouse gases are failing to materialize. The truth is, in stark contrast to the Endangerment Finding, CO2 emissions and fossil fuel use during the Modern Era have actually enhanced life and improved humanity’s standard of living. And they will likely continue to do so as more fossil fuels are utilized”.
“Multiple peer-reviewed scientific studies show (1) there is nothing unusual about Earth’s current warmth or rate of warming, (2) historic and modern records of atmospheric CO2 and temperature violate principles of causation, (3) model-based temperature projections since 1979 artificially inflate warming (compared to observations) by a factor of 3, invalidating the models and all their ancillary claims associated with greenhouse gas-induced warming, and that (4) key adverse effects of greenhouse gas-induced warming, including extreme weather events, temperature-induced mortality and sea level rise, are not occurring despite EPA predictions they would be worsening”.
“The petition also presents compelling evidence that CO2 emissions and fossil energy use provide critical benefits that act to enhance health and welfare for humanity and the natural world… ‘Without adequate supplies of low-cost centralized energy derived from fossil fuels, few, in any, of the major technological and innovative advancements of the past two centuries that have enhanced and prolonged human life could have occurred. Additionally, without the increased CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use over the past two centuries, Earth’s terrestrial biosphere would be nowhere near as vigorous or productive as it is today. Rather, it would be devoid of the growth-enhancing, water-saving, and stress-alleviating benefits it has reaped in managed and unmanaged ecosystems from rising levels of atmospheric CO2 since the Industrial Revolution began’”.
See also the hundreds of studies on CO2 at Idso’s site- co2science.org.
Note: “What is impossible to quantify is the actual percentage of warming that is attributable to increased anthropogenic (human-caused) CO2. There is no scientific evidence or method that can determine how much of the warming we’ve had since 1900 was directly caused by us and how much can be assigned to the continuing natural drivers of climate”, Gregory Whitestone.
“Let us dispel any notion that projected higher levels of CO2 will have a direct deleterious impact on humans… According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), ‘CO2 levels may reach 900 ppm’ by 2100, which is well below the minimum threshold for negative impact to humans. The United States Department of Agriculture has set a maximum exposure limit for workers at 5,000 ppm and states that even at levels of 10,000 ppm there are typically no ill effects”, Gregory Whitestone.
The 130 ppm increase since the early stages of the Industrial Revolution is not an “alarming increase”. There is no “climate crisis”.
See also some good scientific response to climate alarmism from atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen (formerly of MIT) and Harvard scientist Willie Soon.
Note on “consensus”: Almost 32,000 scientists, many of the best scientific minds on the planet, signed the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine Protest Petition which states, “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth”.
Environmental alarmism/climate alarmism has become the latest historical eruption of apocalyptic alarmism. These apocalyptic alarms are present in the earliest human writing- i.e. the Sumerian Flood myth, also in the Egyptian ‘Return to Chaos’ and ‘Destruction of Mankind’ myths. Little has changed across history. The same primitive themes have been repeated all across history and across all the cultures of the world. Today, environmental alarmism has taken up the apocalyptic themes to traumatize public consciousness with the same old, same old as ever before. Alarmist media thoughtlessly and obsessively push the endless “end of days” prophecies of environmentalism.
You will never disabuse humanity of curiosity and the urge to speculate about theology (God theorizing) so suck it up and probe better alternatives to what religion has handed us. The wish of the pissed atheist- “Lets get rid of all this metaphysical bullshit”- just ain’t gonna come to fruition any time soon because theology in some form is so fundamental to the human longing for meaning.
My point below: The prominent features of humanity’s highest ideal and authority- i.e. deity- are still profoundly subhuman so clean up the mess and offer better alternatives. Reshape your god theory, radically. Humanize God theories fully because deity is still prominent to inspiring, guiding, and validating human life. This has to do with the belief/behavior relationship that has long been embraced by humanity- i.e. shaping our lives according to our beliefs.
(Note the World Religion Survey where 85% of humanity continue to affiliate with a major world religion and most of the remaining 15% are still “spiritual but not religious”.)
And yes, deity theories are part of alarmist eruptions- i.e. the myth of apocalyptic and the related myth of punitive, destroying Forces or spirits/gods behind the natural world (e.g. angry God, vengeful Gaia, angry Planet, pissed Mother Earth, retributive Universe, or payback karma). The pathological myth of ‘threat theology’ has been embedded so long in human grand narratives that it now operates from the sub-conscious (hard-wired).
Now the argument…
Alexander Pope said, “Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of Mankind is Man.” Using Pope’s poetry as a jumping off point, I would urge the embrace of a new source of authority for theology- not religion or religious holy books/bibles, but common human insight and the common human spirit. You see, I like equalizing approaches that make life’s most important things equally accessible to all.
The argument: All that we can know about God is to be found in the best of being human, in the best of humanity. Notable here is the human discovery that “no conditions love” is the highest form of love and the most humane way to treat imperfect humanity. Parents, spouses, and friends are the source of authority here, from their daily experience of generous and merciful forgiveness toward imperfect others, including themselves. Restorative justice approaches also get the humaneness of treating all failing humanity with mercy and rehabilitative intention (yes, despite the need to restrain/imprison violent people).
Unconditional love enables us to “tower in stature as maturely human”, it enables us to become the heroes of our stories. It liberates us from the residual animal inside us as nothing else can.
Now take the best of human goodness- i.e. unconditional treatment of others- and project that out to define Ultimate Goodness, Ultimate Love. But understand such a feature in deity as something transcendent- i.e. as something infinitely better than the best that we can imagine. The feature of unconditional is simply the most humane theme that we know to be the orienting center for human narratives. It offers the best/highest ideal to influence the most humane responses in people, the safest responses.
(Insert note: There is no higher good that we can imagine than unconditional love. It resonates as the highest good imaginable and is therefore a necessary feature of deity as Ultimate Good or Love. Unconditional is the single most critical marker of authentic humaneness and must be fundamental to God theory. Our constitutions and human rights codes point to this feature in arguing for the humane treatment of criminal offenders and prisoners of war. “Love your enemy” has entered and irrevocably transformed human consciousness.)
And understand that the goodness and love that we imagine in God also defines our essential self. We also are most essentially good. Our core inner self (the human spirit) is the same goodness and love that is God. We are not the fallen “sinful” beings of religious mythology. We are most essentially incarnations of the God that is love. Our goodness is evident in the ever-improving trajectory of life and civilization. NDE accounts also point to this fundamental goodness of people.
The bad side of humanity can be understood in terms of our animal inheritance with its darker impulses that emanate from a core animal-like brain. This includes the impulses to tribal exclusion of differing others, to intervene and dominate others, and to punish and destroy enemies/opponents. But such impulses are not the real us. Our animal side does not define our human spirit. To paraphrase Jeffrey Schwartz, “We are not our brains”. See also Dark Nature by Lyall Watson.
Our human spirit orients us to the full inclusion of all as equals, to respect the diversity, freedom and self-determination of others, and to treat all human failure with restorative justice, not punitive justice. Our human spirit is taking us in a new and more humane direction from our animal past.
Some related conclusions: There has never been any such reality as a “sky God”, existing above in some religious heaven. The reality that humanity has long referred to as “deity” has always been, and only been, present in humanity in relation to the common human spirit and human consciousness.
Religion has, from the beginning, located God outside of, separate from, and above humanity as a dominating reality (i.e. Lord, King, Ruler, Judge). That mythology has undermined the awareness that God is intensely present in all human experience, in the commonness of daily life. God is actually a street-level reality to be found in the most ordinary and mundane of human existence and experience. God is most profoundly known in the street-level goodness of average human beings in all the diverse situations and stories that people create. This makes every human being an equal ‘God expert’ based on their own unique experiences.
There are no especially holy people (i.e. religious founders) that are uniquely incarnated by God. That mythology deifies religious figures like the Jesus Christ of Christianity, and it undermines the religious basis for the equality of all persons. I would argue that, to the contrary, all humanity has been equally incarnated by the same God that cannot be separated from the common human spirit. This offers a better ‘spiritual’ basis for the equality of all people.
This new theology of God known only in humanity then orients us away from day-dreaming about heavenly realms, and other-worldly salvationism, to focus on life here and now, on improving this world in all the diverse ways that human persons desire to contribute to life. We need not waste time and energy on “having a relationship with an invisible deity” but rather we should focus on relating to real people here and now. See this point elaborated in ‘Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives’, in sections below.
Related: Loving and praising God as in religious traditions? No. Love does not demand to be the center of attention like an Idi Amin demanding constant praise, but forgets itself to focus on others and their needs.
Another: The religious focus on serving, loving, or being loyal to something other than humanity, something above humanity, has often led to the neglect and even abuse of real people.
Conclusion? There is no need for a mediating religion. To the contrary, religion has always been a highly conditional social institution that distorts and buries the reality of God as unconditional Love. Religion presents Ultimate Reality as conditional reality, a reality that demands conditions. Religion buries the reality of an unconditional God under the endless conditions of right religious beliefs, proper religious rituals and sacrifice/payments, necessary mediating priesthoods, and required religious lifestyles.
An authentically unconditional deity would not promote or demand anything that is conditional. Unconditional deity liberates human consciousness from conditional thinking, feeling, response, and existence. This is not an argument for dogmatic or extreme pacifism in the face of human violence and inhumanity. An unconditional orientation does not eliminate the common sense need to hold people responsible for their behavior- i.e. natural and social consequences all through the world and life. Embracing unconditional is more about our understanding of ultimate ideals/authorities and how such realities influence our attitudes toward imperfect and failing others- i.e. restorative justice versus punitive justice approaches.
Further note: Unconditional deity means (get the full scandal and offensiveness of this) there will be no future judgment (only self-judgment as in self-evaluation), no condemnation (full and free forgiveness for all), no exclusion of anyone (no true believer/unbeliever tribalism), no domination of anyone by anyone else (not even by God), no punishment, and no destruction (no apocalypse, no hell).
(Insert: No domination, not even by God? Correct. Historical Jesus said that true greatness was not in dominating others but in serving them. He told people that authentic love and humanity would not “lord over others”. So conclude this- the true greatness and authentic humaneness of God will not “lord over others” but like all authentic love, will serve others. Kinda overturns the myths of God as King, Lord, Ruler, Judge, etc. Others make the point that authentic love is inseparable from honoring the freedom of others as equals. There is no love where there is no such freedom and equality. And is not God authentic love? Just asking.)
If you feel pissed, outraged, and offended by such conclusions then you have understood something of the scandal of unconditional deity, such as was taught by Historical Jesus and offended/outraged his contemporaries (i.e. “no more eye for eye but love your enemies”). Christianity soon buried his offensive theology under Paul’s Christ myth that re-oriented people back to a theology of ultimate conditions (faith/belief for salvation), exclusion (unbelievers excluded), domination (Lord Christ reigning forever), retaliation (Paul’s theology of “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”), and punishment/destruction (i.e. apocalypse and hell- see Thessalonian and Roman letters). Paul brought theology back into line with all the previous pathologies in human mythology and religion. Hence, the success of Christianity around the world as it resonated with the traditional theologies of other cultures and people.
A brief rehash of religious history: Where the ancients got things wrong was in projecting the basest features of primitive humanity (more animal-like than human) out to define and explain greater reality. We then got monster gods- i.e. tribal exclusion (favoring true believers but not unbelievers- those outside the tribe), alpha male/female domination (lords, kings, rulers, judges), and punitive/predatory destruction of enemies (apocalypse, hell). World religions, and later ‘secular’ ideologies, then embraced these pathological features/themes that have long buried the love that is the core of all reality. Historical Jesus tried to promote that core love, and we are grateful that Christianity included his wisdom sayings message, but Paul’s Christ myth buried that wisdom message of Jesus. Thomas Jefferson and Leo Tolstoy expressed what happened- i.e. that the “diamonds/pearls” of Jesus were buried under Paul’s Christ that was a restoration of primitive theologies.
I affirm the intuition of most of humanity across history and most of the human family today- the 85% that affiliate with a world religion and most of the remaining 15% that are “spiritual but not religious”- that there is a greater reality that is defined in terms of more than just energy, quantum fields, or natural law but is of the nature of Consciousness, Mind, Intelligence, or Self. Where I disagree with most people is in what they project out to define Ultimate Reality, the conditional features of religious traditions that distort and bury the unconditional nature of the Love at the core of reality.
The central project in religious reform movements ought to be purging deity of subhuman features and fully humanizing God theory. Religious reform needs to make deity a safe ultimate ideal and authority that will inspire, guide, and validate the best in humanity. Religious reformation that avoids the fundamental reformation of deity theory is only peripheral tinkering around the edges that leaves the central pathology in place (i.e. the subhuman features in the highest of human ideals and authorities- deity).
YouTube: Rogan and a guest discuss Hindu karma and related topics at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9pv_d-evYJg. They cover some interesting insights on the human life experience and what it might mean. However, re-incarnation and karma generally miss the unconditional element in ultimate reality and the freedom that is essential to no conditions reality. Re-incarnation/karma traditions are oriented too much to earning something and meeting conditions. However, regarding the learning element in the mix- yes. But not slavery to some endless cycle shaped by payback karma, requirement to learn in fixed ways, retaliation, payment, condition, and so on. Where is the stunningly scandalous reality of ‘ultimate unconditional’ in all that?
Note: On the fear of eternity (eternal existence) in some form, a concern voiced by Rogan. Our limitations to 5 senses in a 4-dimensional reality (time as the fourth dimension) prevents us from properly understanding any multi-dimensional reality with no space or time. Unconditional reality, in all ways, points to something better, as in beyond the best imaginable. As Campbell said, God is a penultimate term pointing to the God (Mystery) infinitely beyond God. So while we embrace the ever-unknowable Mystery in all this speculation, we should not worry about potential infinite boredom. The future may be more infinite progress, learning, creative exploration, and growth. In somewhere timeless, spaceless, and who knows what else.
The great disconnects in CO2 alarmism:
Over the past hundreds of millions of years CO2 levels have often been very high, in the multiple thousands of ppm, while at the same time Earth’s temperature has been low. And when CO2 levels have been low over that time, Earth’s temperature has often been high. This undermines the hypothesis that CO2 drives temperature in climate change.
Note also that about 350,000 years ago CO2 levels dipped very low, below 200 ppm, going down to 180 ppm. Plant life dies when CO2 levels descend to 150 ppm. That would have been the real climate catastrophe, the apocalypse for all life.
Over the past 400,000 years another pattern undermines the claim that CO2 drives climate warming. Roughly following a pattern of 100,000 year cycles, climate on Earth first warmed, which then warmed the oceans over subsequent centuries, and those warming oceans then expelled CO2 which then rose in the atmosphere. It was not rising CO2 levels first driving the climate warming. There was a centuries-long lag with rising CO2 dependent on climate warming first. http://euanmearns.com/the-vostok-ice-core-and-the-14000-year-co2-time-lag/
Another disconnect: During the 1990s the sun entered a solar minimum that became extended. The climate warming trend that had began around the mid-70s then became an extended flat trend. But CO2 levels continued to rise during this time. https://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2013/03/Whitehouse-GT_Standstill.pdf
Where then is the claimed causal link of CO2 as the main driver of climate warming or climate change?
Point- Other natural factors drive climate change more than CO2. CO2 has a warming influence and is part of the complex of factors in the climate mix, but the CO2 influence on climate is repeatedly overwhelmed by other natural factors.
Conclusion? Don’t stress over our use of fossil fuels. There is no good scientific reason to restrict or ban fossil fuels. There is no “settled science” basis to support arguments for the decarbonization of our societies.
And to the contrary, there is good evidence that we are helping to save life by adding CO2 to the atmosphere. Starving plant life has responded to the rising food levels in the atmosphere with an immense increase in biomass that has greened the planet by 14% since 1982. There has been an increase of green vegetation on Earth, equal to twice the size of the continental US.
Rising CO2 levels (plant food levels) and rising temperatures (on an abnormally cold Earth) are the two best things happening on Earth today. Life is once again flourishing in response.
A series of articles on alarmism reposted from sections below. The continued public promotion of climate alarmism, and associated irrational and harmful policy proposals, demands ongoing robust response. See below, for example, “The Two best things happening today”.
The greatest threat to hope, freedom, peace, and progress today? There are numerous threats. For instance, those abandoning the sense of the oneness of the human family for unhinged tribalism (tribalism based on ideology, race, nationality, religion, and other isolating/dividing identity markers). Or those abandoning respect for the freedom, diversity, and rights of others and opting instead for interfering manipulation and control of other’s lives (coercing others- via state law/regulation- to live as the dominating person believes they should be made to live). And those abandoning restorative love for punitive retaliation (shaming, banning, silencing, cancelling, criminalizing).
My candidate for greatest threat in the mix of other threats- alarmism, notably environmental alarmism. See notes below on “fear and social control”. Consider the climate alarmism movement in this regard and its advocacy for extremist policies such as rapid ‘decarbonization’ of societies. The outcomes of alarmist eruptions have always been destabilizing, harmful, and in worst cases have even resulted in mass-death outbreaks (i.e. Landes, Herman, Mendel, and Redles’ research noted in sections below).
Most egregious is the fact that alarmist narratives distort and deny the true state of life on Earth. Alarmism distorts and buries the fact that life has been on an overall long-term improving trajectory that has positively impacted all the main features of life. There is no evidence to affirm alarm over the state or future of life, and certainly no good evidence to affirm climate alarmism. Note the Matt Ridley summary- “Against Environmental Pessimism”- at this link: https://www.google.com/search q=PERC+against+environmental+pessimism&rlz=1C1SQJL_enCA879CA879&oq=
Note: Flawed climate models have exaggerated the potential for harmful warming, and also missed the warming “pause” over past decades: https://www.hoover.org/research/flawed-climate-models
Similarly flawed modelling has repeatedly incited exaggerated alarmism over the possible impact of disease outbreaks. https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2020/05/08/so-the-real-scandal-is-why-did-anyone-ever-listen-to-this-guy/
Alarmism is the exaggeration of real problems in life, exaggeration that speculates 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 Senator 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, stating in 2008 that “Its all over in five years”. Steve Hawking gave us 100 years till the end.
That is stunningly irresponsible and dangerous fear-mongering with an element of pathological nihilism (Is there anything more nihilist than to prophesy the end of all, the end of the world?). Exaggerated alarmism distorts our ability to respond rationally to problems that we need to solve together. Alarmism undermines the hope that incentivizes our creative endeavor to engage life and make it ever better, something we have wildly succeeded at achieving over past centuries (see, for example, Humanprogress.org, or Julian Simon’s ‘Ultimate Resource’). Alarmism fosters fatalism, resignation, and dangerous tribal division among populations (blaming differing others as the great threat to life that must be crushed).
A rational scientific approach 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. Unfortunately, scientific evidence by itself has not calmed or changed the minds of most alarmists. And that is a tip-off that they are guided more by emotional commitment to myth than by factual evidence.
This site probes related issues behind the repeated eruptions of 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 (i.e. the Sumerian Flood myth). Apocalyptic mythology was later embraced by the world religions and continues to dominate modern narratives, both religious and secular/ideological.
Varied sites document the prominence of the apocalyptic myth in modern story-telling as mediated, for example, via Hollywood movies. See https://fee.org/articles/hollywoods-apocalypse-obsession-ignores-reality/
Arthur Herman (The Idea of Decline In Western History) notes the ongoing prominence of apocalyptic in relation to the ideology of Declinism, stating that the idea of decline is the most dominant and influential theme in the world today. Decline is a central feature of apocalyptic mythology- i.e. the idea that life is declining toward something worse, toward a great collapse and ending.
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. The outcomes have been horrifically damaging.
Arthur Mendel in Vision and Violence states that apocalyptic has been “the most 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 outcomes of the Marxist apocalyptic narrative, the Nazi apocalyptic millennial movement, and now environmental apocalyptic. Note 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).
Here is the critical response pattern to note in regard to apocalyptic alarmism and its salvationism solutions:
First, the exaggeration of problems to apocalyptic scale incites widespread fear in populations (i.e. “we’re all gonna die”, the end is nigh). That agitated survival fear then renders people susceptible to embracing alarmist salvation schemes that unleash and promote the totalitarian impulse.
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 “imminent and dire”. Dates for the end are set are just years or decades ahead and are repeatedly reset as the end times never arrive. Alarmists argue that there is no time to waste with dangerous indulgence of skeptics so ban, silence, discredit with personal attack, cancel, and even criminalize them, as President Obama’s AG, Loretta Lynch, tried to do in 2016. See also https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/07/08/climate-activists-step-up-calls-for-imprisoning-climate-realists/
Further, the imminent threat of alarmist scenarios demands the “coercive purging” of the claimed threat to life (again- Landes, Mendel). Alarmist salvation schemes also demand the “instantaneous transformation” of societies because the gradualism of democratic processes will not save us in time or get us to the imagined utopia of alarmist millennialism.
We are watching this totalitarian salvationism play out today in environmental alarmism (e.g. climate change), with its anti-humanism. Humanity is blamed as the great threat to life, the virus or cancer on Earth that causes environmental disaster and this “population bomb” must be removed via population control and reduction programs.
Climate alarmism now promotes endless end-of-world prophesies and agitated 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. See https://www.thegwpf.org/new-paper-decarbonisation-plans-fail-engineering-reality-check/ and also https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/07/10/democrats-climate-policy-follows-germanys-failed-plan/
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. And most irresponsible are news media with their obsession over creating fear and assaulting the public with worst-case scenarios (see Sociologist David Altheide’s ‘Creating Fear: News and the Construction of Crisis’).
List of recent alarms: “Over the past 70 years public consciousness has been repeatedly assaulted by apocalyptic-scale hysteria, via alarmism-oriented news media. 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 famine. Apocalyptic plagues such as 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. Then 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.”
Reflexive skepticism (not denial)
I am a reflexive skeptic of every new alarm that erupts into public consciousness- i.e. 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 and exaggerated terms that incite unnecessary fear in populations. Fear then promotes irrational thought, feeling, and response. Fear leads to 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 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 eventually exposed as exaggerated scenarios. Most of the alarms turned out to be lesser-scale problems than originally portrayed by alarmists. The media have justifiably discredited themselves with the public for thoughtlessly presenting the alarms in exaggerated terms (“imminent crisis… looming catastrophe…. coming disaster” are favored media descriptions). Media unquestioningly parrot the alarmist scientists and others that incite the panics.
Media obsession with alarmism narratives and exaggeration has been analyzed well by sociologist David Altheide in “Creating Fear: News and the Construction of crisis”. Media are not the truth-tellers or fact-checkers that they like to present themselves as. They are entertainers competing with the rest of the entertainment industry for audience share. What dominates entertainment? Apocalyptic.
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 (1) the complete big picture and (2) 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 beyond evidence and incite irresponsible and destructive alarmism movements.
See “The Two Best Things Happening Today” for the big picture paleo-climate context and the longest-term trends that relate to climate.
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. This anti-humanism feature ought to caution anyone re the motives of alarmists.
Inciting fear in populations 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 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 to save something.
Unwarranted fear can become the greatest threat to the freedom and self-determination of people.
Fear and social control:
The element of “fear and social control” has been well-documented in social science research.
Sociologist David Altheide (Creating Fear: News and the Construction of Crisis) details the evidence of the expanding role of narratives of fear in public life, much due to news media focus, exaggeration, and distortion. He notes the “expansion of the discourse of fear into more attempts at social control”. He fingers especially mass media/news media for their central role in promoting fear by continually warning of some danger.
“Mass media and popular culture are the most important contributors to fear. The pervasive use of fear in public documents and discourse has helped create a perspective or framework for viewing the world in an entertaining way that is shared by many members of our society… (this major paradox exists)… we are living longer with more secure and comfortable lifestyles than at any other time in history… yet we have the most fear and uncertainty about life…”.
“My research indicates that more of our narratives involve fear. Fear appeared in more headlines and news reports in the mid-1990s than in the 1980s… For the majority of people, the mass media shape identities and narratives… Fear as a perspective is expanding in social life… Fear is more widely used because news organizations and news sources benefit from it…”
Altheide notes that news media work together with political leadership to promote social control of populations. “’Crises’ are simply certain events that are defined in a certain way and promoted to serve the political interests of leaders… ‘crisis’ is oriented to a decision-maker’s audience to allow the leader to take decisive action… Fear is used increasingly to define crises and to bump along those claims so that leaders can take political action against (enemies)”.
“The mass media, and especially the news media, are the main source and tool used to ‘soften up’ the audience” and prepare them to accept the justified action to save them from whatever crisis has been promoted. Fear is an essential part of social control, says Altheide.
“Directing fear in a society is tantamount to controlling that society. Every age has its fears, every ruler has his/her enemies, every sovereign places blame and every citizen learns about these as propaganda. The key is to recognize the process and not get captivated with the ‘bogey man’ of choice in any particular time”.
Others on fear and control: “The whole aim of practical politics”, wrote HL Mencken, “Is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary”. John Adams- “Fear is the foundation of most governments”.
And this from https://www.heartland.org/news-opinion/news/fear-the-best-tool-of-the-ruling-class
The above linked article includes these quotes from Michael Crichton: “I am leading to the notion of social control… To the requirement of every sovereign state to exert control over the behavior of its citizens, to keep them orderly and reasonably docile… To keep them paying taxes… and of course, we know that social control is best managed through fear.”
He continues: “In reality, (in recent decades) we have been under the control of an entirely new complex, far more powerful and far more pervasive. I call it the politico-legal-media complex. The PLM. And it is dedicated to promoting fear in the population, under the guise of promoting safety”.
The article continues, identifying “the role of experts and universities in the enshrinement of fear as a political tool: “Because they had a new role to play. They became the creators of new fears for the PLM. Universities today are factories of fear. They invent all the new terrors and new social anxieties… they produce a steady stream of new anxieties, dangers, and social terrors to be used by politicians, lawyers, and reporters.”
Note also the increasing desperation of alarmists to hysterically re-enforce their “end-of-world” narratives as skeptical scientists repeatedly prove their apocalyptic threats to be wildly overstated. Richard Landes details these patterns of apocalyptic-millennial movements in his excellent history- ‘Heaven On Earth’.
Most critical to watch in alarmist eruptions of fear-mongering is the demand for “coercive purging” of the imagined threat. That argues for setting aside democratic processes and respect for freedom because some threat is claimed to be imminent and dire (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.
The never-ending end times stuff (Another article reposted from below)
For over 5000 years apocalyptic mythology has been beaten into human consciousness as essential to defining the trajectory of life. Secular versions of apocalyptic mythology, notably the ideology of Declinism (i.e. life worsening toward some great disaster), still dominate public consciousness and narratives today. This is evident in the environmental alarmism movement and particularly in climate alarmism- the prophesies of looming, imminent climate catastrophe and the endless end of days scenarios presented to the public.
Remember AOC’s prophesy in 2018 that we had only 12 years to the end of the world or James Hansen’s prophesy in 2008 that “Its all over in five years”. In the last year of his life Stephen Hawking added his prophesy of apocalypse though he gave us some breathing room, declaring that we had 100 years till the apocalypse. Enough time for him to vacate the scene and avoid the humiliation that inevitably comes to all apocalyptic prophets. Life does not decline toward ending. Evidence shows that with creative human effort life rises toward an improving future.
Apocalyptic threat: Is this really how you “Teach your children well…” (Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young), traumatizing them with end of the world scenarios, causing the widespread pathology of “eco-anxiety” in children now frightened of growing up in a world that they are taught will soon end?
Apocalyptic-scale alarmism attunes populations to worst-case scenarios and renders them susceptible to the irrational salvation schemes of alarmists that have consistently proven destructive to humanity and to nature. Remember Rachel Carson’s apocalyptic narrative in Silent Spring that influenced the ban on DDT that subsequently resulted in the unnecessary deaths of millions of people from uncontrolled malaria. The biofuels alarm resulted in further deforestation for palm oil plantations. So also anti-GM crop activism (related to general environmental alarmism) prohibits farmers from getting higher-yield crops and inputs that produce more crop on the same land and consequently farmers have to cut more forest for cropland to feed growing populations. GM crops will save forests. Anti-GM activism has also resulted in millions of unnecessary deaths of children denied Vitamin A in Golden Rice.
The latest salvation scheme (i.e. “save the world”) is the demand to decarbonize our societies and shift to renewables. We are already seeing the harm from this in unnecessarily exorbitant electricity and energy prices that impact the poorest people the most. Add to this the direct harm from renewables as noted in ‘Planet of the Humans’ (ignore the documentary’s misinformation on “corrupt humanity exhausting world resources and destroying the planet”). Decarbonization is based on the “unsettled science” of climate alarmism. There is agreement on all sides that CO2 has a warming influence but no consensus that CO2 is the dominant influence on climate change. In fact, much good evidence shows other natural factors overwhelm the CO2 influence on climate. Point? There is no good scientific reason to diminish our use of fossil fuels. There is no rational reason to decarbonize.
We need to end the endless traumatizing of human consciousness with exaggerated fear-mongering about the looming end of all things. It is highly irresponsible and destructive in outcomes. Apocalyptic mythology distorts the true state of life.
The excessive fear-mongering over natural change and problems in our environment incites unnecessary anxiety over life. It contributes to despair over life and the future. No wonder depression is the world’s number one illness and children suffer from the new pathology of “eco-anxiety”.
The deeper roots of alarmism
The great narratives of humanity across history (our main belief systems) have always embraced the same basic complex of ideas/themes and those themes are profoundly wrong-headed. Most human systems of belief across history have been oriented to one notable core idea- i.e. that of some great punitive, destroying Force or Spirit (deity).
That core idea has been supported by a larger complex of related ideas- i.e. that we humans deserve to be punished because we are bad to the bone and have ruined an original paradise. We have sent life into decline toward some great disaster and ending. Therefore, we deserve judgment or justice as payback for our sins. Our salvation/solution? We must make a sacrifice to appease the upset deity, we must purge the evil that we have created, then we will be saved, and paradise will be restored, notably for the true believers in the apocalyptic narrative.
Science has helped to overturn the old narratives entirely. We know that life on Earth began in a brutally hostile environment but has improved across the entire trajectory of this planet. So also, we humans have developed and improved immensely over the history of human civilization (i.e. declining rates of homicide as a main indicator). Our becoming something better across time counters the essential anti-humanism of the old narratives- i.e. that we fell from some better past state (noble savages) to become something worse in the present. Our history shows that we are basically good and we have improved across history. Further, the improvement of life is via ‘gradualism’ and not through the coercive purging schemes of apocalyptic alarmists. See Arthur Mendel’s Vision and Violence.
I often illustrate the new narrative themes versus the old narrative themes with the Jesus/Paul contradiction. That profound contradiction points to the basic issue- i.e. the core bad idea that serves as the orienting center of the old narratives.
Historical Jesus broke entirely with the central bad idea in the old 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 that meant there was no ultimate threat behind life. That love was all about universal inclusion, unlimited forgiveness, and endless generosity, mercy and goodness.
But Paul rejected that new discovery of Jesus and retreated to the same old core theme of all past narratives- that the core Reality was punitive and destroying. He embedded this 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” (Thessalonian letters). His myth then brought the old narrative themes into our modern world. Paul’s Christ is most responsible for the continuing dominance of the apocalyptic myth in our modern world, in both religious and secular versions.
The Jesus/Christ contradiction points to the core of the human problem- the lingering influence of the old narrative themes, and the liberating, humanizing influence of a new narrative. See Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives below.
To solve the alarmism problem thoroughly and for the long-term future, it is necessary to include this core meaning stuff 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 Senator AOC and other alarmists (Father of global warming alarmism, James Hansen, stated in 2008, “Its all over in five years”).
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.
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).
Once again: The critical danger from alarmism eruptions
Alarmist response to problems argue for the ‘coercive purging’ of some imagined threat in order to “save the world” from an always ‘imminent’ threat to all life. The outcomes of such coercive approaches have repeatedly been eruptions of totalitarianism with the banning, silencing, and even criminalizing of skeptics to the alarmist narratives and salvationist responses. Taken to extremes, the outcomes of alarmism have repeatedly been eruptions of mass-harm, and even mass-death movements.
Alarmists- often well-intentioned- frighten populations to accept an alarmist vision of life as seriously threatened. Their solution? Embrace a low-consumption lifestyle that is basically a return to pre-industrial primitivism (i.e. the ‘moral superiority’ of the simple life). They claim that a severe reduction in consumption is necessary to save the world. Julian Simon presents evidence to the contrary in Ultimate Resource.
We are watching the alarmist pattern play out today with climate change. Climate change is always a legitimate concern as climate is always changing. But alarmists are exaggerating the danger of our mild warming to apocalyptic scale against good evidence that the mild warming of the past century and the increased levels of plant food (CO2) have immensely benefited life during the current ice age era that we are in (i.e. an abnormally cold world with abnormally low levels of CO2). Note the 14 % increase in green vegetation across the world since 1982. Plant life has been starving from historical low levels of CO2.
The salvationist solution to their exaggerated scenario of apocalyptic disaster? Radically decarbonize our societies. But that would devastate our civilization and harm the poorest people the most. Decarbonization approaches have already caused costly increases in energy prices that are impacting the poorest people.
This site probes the ideas behind alarmism culture, notably the still dominant myth of apocalyptic. I have traced here the historical route of that pathology into modern alarmism. It descended from primitive mythology (e.g. Sumerian Flood myth) into the great world religions (notably Christianity) and was then embraced in the 19th Century ideology of Declinism (the most influential theme in the modern world). Apocalyptic was then embraced by modern alarmism movements like Marxism, Nazism, and now environmental alarmism (see good research of historians Arthur Herman, Richard Landes, Arthur Mendel, David Redles).
The core idea in the apocalyptic complex is that of a great Force or Spirit that is punitive and destructive (threat theology). That idea anchors a complex of supporting ideas/myths. Threat theology is now expressed in contemporary gods such as vengeful Gaia, angry Planet, punishing Mother Earth, retributive Universe, or karma.
The supporting complex of ideas include- an original paradise that has been ruined and lost due to human greed and corruption, the subsequent decline of life toward a great collapse and ending, ultimate punishment, and deserved justice as vengeance and destruction (i.e. in an apocalypse and ultimately in some hell). Add tribal dualism and exclusion (good guys versus bad guys), demand for sacrifice and salvation, and the promise of restored paradise for true believers.
Science is critical for robust response to alarmism but scientific evidence convinces very few as the issue for many appears to include deeply embraced beliefs, and the human impulse for meaning that has long been shaped by ancient mythological themes, notably apocalyptic- i.e. lost paradise, human badness/guilt, and felt deserved punishment in looming apocalyptic ending.
As noted above, to counter alarmism most effectively (for thorough and long-term solution) we need to deal with primal human fears (ultimate or after-life threat and harm) and the fundamental human impulse for meaning as it relates to ultimate realities. I would argue to replace the core theme of past narratives (mythical, religious, ideological) with a potent alternative, i.e. humanity’s single greatest discovery/insight- that there is no punitive, destroying reality behind life. There is only no conditions love- unlimited, universal love. That radically changes everything, liberating consciousness to explore and embrace entirely new themes for a more humane narrative of life. No conditions love provides a new center around which to orient an entirely new complex of supporting ideas.
See Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives below.
A quote from… “We Disagree with You, So Shut Up” by David Kreutzer. See https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/renewable/we-disagree-with-you-so-shut-up/
“For climate alarmists, it is not enough simply to argue a case against their opponents. The purveyors of a climate apocalypse do not tolerate dissent. For them, the too-frequent response is to deny their opponents any voice at all”.
Site Project: Probe the core themes in human meta-narratives, notably those “bad ideas” that have influenced people to exhibit inhuman behavior (i.e. the belief/behavior relationship where ideas inspire/incite, guide, and validate human behavior). Those themes/ideas have persisted across all history and across all the cultures of the world (Joseph Campbell). A notable complex of the worst ideas has descended from primitive mythologies, to world religions, and those ideas are now embraced in the ‘secular’ ideologies of our modern world. They are religious ideas that are now embraced even by atheists/materialists.
Note, for example, the primitive myth of apocalyptic. This myth still dominates the world religions and has influenced the “secular” ideologies/movements of Declinism and its offspring- i.e. Marxism, Nazism, and environmental alarmism. See the research of historians Richard Landes (Heaven on Earth), Arthur Herman (The Idea of Decline in Western History), Arthur Mendel (Vision and Violence), and David Redles (Hitler’s Millennial Reich). Apocalyptic still dominates modern story-telling and is central to the “end-of-the-world” prophesying of the environmental alarmism movement.
Note: The core idea in the apocalyptic complex of ideas is that of a great retaliating, punishing, and destroying Force or Spirit. Apocalyptic incites unnecessary fear with its exaggeration of real problems in life to apocalyptic-scale, accompanied by endless prophecies of the end of days. That exaggeration distorts the true state of things and frightens populations to embrace irrational salvation/survival responses that inevitably result in harm to many people. The above historians have detailed how apocalyptic millennial ideas have even resulted in mass-death outcomes.
The idea of an ultimate punitive, destroying Force or Spirit has been given modern expression in myths of “angry Planet/Mother Earth”, “vengeful Gaia”, “retributive Universe”, or karma. People make the unscientific and irrational claim that these entities punish humanity through disease, accidents, or natural disasters.
Note on material below: Any discussion of ‘no conditions love’ needs the immediate qualifier that we are not talking about some version of pacifism, with the related assumptions of weakness, softness, or timidity in the face of evil. To the contrary, the choice to forgive, include, and love an enemy involves a courage that few ever attain to in life. See the movies Forgiveness, The Railway Man, or To End All Wars. Note especially the main people in these true stories, the horrific torture, suffering, and loss that they endured, the intense struggle with natural impulses for vengeance, and then their choice to forgive/love their tormentors. Now tell us where you see weakness or softness in those people.
Most contemporary story-telling (movies, TV) affirms vengeance as “getting justice” and therefore as right, good, manly, and even heroic. But retaliation is more animal than human.
Retaliation is natural. Non-retaliation is supernatural. Superhuman. God-like. That’s why we admire the Nelson Mandelas of the world. We intuitively know that they point us all to a better, more humane future. They show us what it means to be authentically human, to “tower in stature as maturely human when we orient our lives to universal love” (Joseph Campbell). Non-retaliatory love makes us the heroes of our stories. That love helps us to maintain our humanity in our “righteous battles against evil”, when we remember our oneness with all others, and that even our ‘enemies’ are still our family.
Note on the forgiveness element in the mix: Many have made the point that forgiveness is not about trying to feel good toward human brutality or to feel warm toward the people committing cruelty against others. That is not what “love your enemy” means. The horrific things that people do to one another rightly evoke our disgust and rage. But forgiveness is more about freedom for the victims, freedom from subsequent responses that darken and sour life with subhuman impulses such as the impulse for vengeance, and related hate and bitterness. Forgiveness is about maintaining our own humanity in the face of evil by choosing to do the more humane thing in response to horrific human failure and abuse.
Overturning threat theology- the heart of apocalyptic
Intro notes: Paul’s Christ is the supreme icon of highly conditional reality- i.e. representing the divine demand for a cosmic payment/sacrifice for human imperfection. Paul’s Christ also epitomizes threat theology- i.e. the threat that emanates from highly conditional reality, threat of ultimate loss, exclusion, punishment, and destruction. Such statements on the nature of the Christ are scattered all through Paul’s letters and the rest of the New Testament.
Paul’s Christ illustrates the great difference between conditional and unconditional realities. All religion across history has been about conditions, communicating to humanity a highly conditional reality as the ultimate human ideal and authority- i.e. divine conditions for right belief, proper ritual (offerings, sacrifices), and required lifestyle to appease and please deity.
Religious realities that are conditional, punitive and destroying in nature have influenced/shaped human relationships toward similar values, ideals, and outcomes, toward conditional relating, and have oriented human justice systems to be punitive in treatment of human imperfection and failure.
None of the world religions has ever properly communicated the true nature of deity as stunningly and inexpressibly unconditional. That would liberate human consciousness from unnecessary threat and fear, and from subjection to religious authority. It would spell the end of all conditional religion and religious domination.
While embracing many great human ideals such as mercy, love, and forgiveness, all the great world religions continue to hold some of the worst ideas and features of our primitive past- i.e. the divine threat behind the natural world, affirming the primal fear of ultimate judgment, exclusion (rejection of unbelievers), punishment and destruction (i.e. hell). Most religion embraces some form of divine demand for ultimate payment/sacrifice. Conditional religion has saddled humanity with unnecessary psychic burdens.
Comment on Michael Shellenberger’s book Apocalypse Never from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8550381/Eco-warrior-says-going-veggie-pointless-mass-loss-species-myth.html
“He says he wrote Apocalypse Never ‘because the conversation about climate change and the environment has, in the past few years, spiralled out of control. ‘Much of what people are being told about the environment, including climate, is wrong, and we desperately need to get it right.’
He’s ‘fed up’, he adds. ‘with the exaggeration, alarmism, and extremism that are the enemy of a positive, humanistic and rational environmentalism’. The people ‘most apocalyptic about environmental problems tend to oppose the best and most obvious solutions to solving them’.
“We need to get our priorities right, he says. Just think how much more useful it would have been if all those climate change protesters had marched instead for pandemic preparedness, he points out. What message does he want the public to take from his book in altering their behaviour? ‘I want them to know what matters,’ he replies. They should feel happy buying cheap ‘fast fashion’ because it not only ‘liberates’ the women who make the clothes in Third World factories by giving them jobs, but as it moves them from countryside to urban areas, it returns the land to nature as less is used for food production.
“In fact, Shellenberger says climate change is intrinsically linked with poverty, and that if people in the Third World have more money, they can invest in cleaner energy, using gas and electricity, for example, rather than burning wood….
“Shellenberger isn’t surprised he’s drawn flak although the personal attacks — being threatened with castration on Twitter — have been a ‘deeply unpleasant experience’.
“The vehemence may be understandable given his belief that this ‘apocalyptic’ view of climate change is an ‘evangelical, fundamentalist religion’ that doesn’t respond to rational arguments.
“It satisfies a basic need for something to believe in, he says, and its followers can convince themselves they are serving a higher purpose [saving the planet].
“‘These people are in the grip of a religion,’ says Shellenberger, ‘and they don’t know it.’”