Patterns and outcomes of alarmism eruptions

(Continuing the anti-alarmism project of this site)

As we grow up, we are exposed to a variety of inherited ideas. We embrace those to shape our personal understanding of life, and to explain the world to ourselves. Many of the themes that we adopt to formulate our own worldview, we embrace almost subconsciously, without too much introspective reflection on their actual content or nature. They just “seem to be true”. Our ideas are inherited mainly from parents/family. These ideas/themes are also voiced repeatedly in public by teachers, friends, and respected public figures, and that re-enforces our own beliefs/views.

We become emotionally attached to our personal belief system because it satisfies deeply embedded impulses for meaning and purpose. Our personal worldview is also very much the embodiment of our identity, our very self. That emotional attachment to our beliefs as our essential identity makes it difficult to remain open to the new, to change, and to further development.

Many people become selves that are rigidly oriented to fixed and finalized identity markers, whether religious, ideological, racial, ethnic, national, or occupational, and do not remain as selves continuing to develop in an open process (i.e. Louis Zurcher in The Mutable Self). These markers are important to human identity but when held in a divisive manner that overrides our common humanity (i.e. the oneness of the human family) they can then become problematic.

Our emotional attachment to our beliefs re-enforces our tendency to confirmation bias where we refuse new evidence that challenges our beliefs and defensively hold onto old evidence that affirms our beliefs and views. Much of this functions at almost subconscious levels.

Note the following themes that continue to dominate many people’s worldviews today: The past was better. Now life and the world are getting worse and declining toward some potentially disastrous ending. Corrupt people have ruined things and are responsible for the loss of the better past. Therefore, humanity deserves punishment, and a destroying apocalypse is coming, a great judgment just up ahead.

Salvation is to be found in purging the threat to life- i.e. today, the perceived threat is too many free people consuming too much in our industrial, technological civilization (consumer society). Fear, shame, and guilt are then used to pressure and control people to make a sacrifice/atonement, to return to a simpler lifestyle, to consume less of what is claimed to be the world’s “limited” resources. People are told that they can then restore the lost paradise of a wilderness world.

The above are more historically recent versions of some of the most primitive themes ever embraced by human minds. These themes have descended across history from the ancient ‘apocalyptic millennial’ complex of myths. They are themes that have long promoted fear, anxiety, shame/guilt, fatalism and resignation, survival desperation, and even violence among populations (see the research of the apocalyptic millennial scholars listed below). These ‘old story themes’ incite the worst of human thoughts, emotions, and responses. And they distort entirely the actual story of life on Earth.

Insert note: Watch the ‘background noise’ influence of alarmist themes on depression and apocalyptic nihilism with its destructive consequences (i.e. the violence that is believed to be necessary to purge some corrupting threat, as noted in the apocalyptic millennial studies on mass-death movements like Marxism, Nazism, and environmentalism). Themes in larger background narratives do exert influence on real-life situations. Again, we are all responsible for the outcomes of the ideas/themes that we promote in life, whether the outcomes are expected or not (i.e. unintended consequences). The irresponsible promotion of exaggerated fear has always generated harmful outcomes.

A useful project in response? It can be a liberating process to re-evaluate or rethink the core themes of our personal worldview or belief system. And it should be common sense that we are responsible to evaluate the core ideas in our worldviews to ascertain that they help us to see the true state of life or the world. If they do not, then we are obligated to replace old mythical ideas that distort our perceptions of life and replace these with evidence/themes that get us to the true state of life. The outcome of such a process, for one, will be a new personal narrative that will be freed of distorting apocalyptic themes and will more effectively promote hope and its correlated features of love and peace. See detail in ‘Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives’, in sections below.

Disclaimer: Yes, it is possible that potentially threatening situations in the world could become worse and take humanity into some calamitous disaster. But it would not be because of the actual necessary conditions of life, it would be because of the self-fulfilling tendency of alarmist negativity- to engender fatalism and resignation in populations and the embrace of destructive salvationist schemes that promote tribalism (i.e. good people in a righteous battle against evil opponents), coercion against perceived enemies/threats (i.e. save the world from free consumers in industrial society), and the felt need to destroy the threatening enemy as the only way of salvation and restoration of the purported lost paradise.

The actual conditions of life (the true state of life) reveal that life has been on an ‘ever-improving’ trajectory, and that engenders hope, love and peaceful cooperative processes (i.e. democracy) to continue the gradual improvement toward an ever better future. The true state of things inspires the best of human thought, feeling, and response. See for example Humanprogress.org.

Alarmism today is very much a religious problem, as well as a scientific issue. Alarmism encompasses more than just wrong thinking on the environment.

Site splainin: A major project here is to probe the root issues behind social pathologies like alarmism eruptions (i.e. environmental- climate and other). Yes, exaggeration of world problems (e.g. changes in nature) to apocalyptic-scale alarm is “pathological”. It is not good science. Alarmism does not help us to properly understand the true state of any problem which is necessary for us to respond rationally and effectively.

Alarmism is affirmed by the background noise from our subconscious and narratives/worldviews that long ago embraced damaging apocalyptic themes, mythical themes. Those themes must be consciously confronted, and alternatives found, because they continue to influence our thinking, feeling, and responses to life, sometimes harmfully. Apocalyptic has long been widely accepted as true. It still is. Note that post-apocalyptic is even a subgenre in literature which accepts that the apocalypse will inevitably happen so now just focus on surviving in the post-apocalyptic world. Hollywood, as a major world story-telling forum, continues to put out numerous stories that promote the apocalyptic myth as truth (100 major movies over a recent decade or so).

Ask the question: What incites and affirms the endless apocalyptic alarm eruptions in our societies?

This site explores the core ideas/themes from past mythology that have introduced and continue to affirm apocalyptic-scale alarm in our civilization’s worldviews and cultures. In Western civilization that would include Paul’s Christ myth, the single most influential myth in world history. As James Tabor concludes in ‘Paul and Jesus’- Paul has been “the most influential person in history” and “apocalyptic shaped all that he said”.

Paul’s apocalyptic Christ, the heart and soul of Christianity, eventually shaped 19th Century Declinism, and that became the dominant ideology of our world today, the ideology embraced by contemporary environmental alarmism. The outcomes of embracing this ideology? Note, for example, the recent world survey that revealed some 50% of people believe that humanity will become extinct in the future. Note things like the “eco-anxiety” rampant among children afraid of growing up in a world that they believe might end soon. (See Michael Shellenberger’s ‘Apocalypse Never’)

Alarmism is arguably the most dangerous movement on Earth today, frightening populations to embrace salvation schemes (“save the world”), anti-industrial society schemes that will cause widespread harm and will devastate the poorest people the most (i.e. decarbonization). We all need the cheap fossil fuels that have enabled most of humanity to escape poverty, and have provided the wealth that enables us to improve the world environment, just as developed countries have already done and developing countries would also like to do.

While I agree that the Christ myth also embodies some great human ideals like love, forgiveness, redemption, and hope, it is fundamentally oriented to primitive themes of tribal exclusion (true believers saved, unbelievers damned), anti-freedom domination (Lord Christ ruling forever), and punitive destruction (apocalypse and hell). These darker features affirmed throughout Paul’s letters then undermine the better features and create cognitive dissonance common to such “cruel God, kind God” mergers. Those oxymoronic combinations leave religious traditions with the Jefferson/Tolstoy problem of “diamonds/pearls buried in dung/muck” or “new wine being wasted in old, rotten wineskins”. (Insert: What kind of hope takes its life from the expected destruction of the world as in the salvation hope of apocalyptic mythology, with apocalypse as the pathway to utopia?)

Historical Jesus had introduced a “stunning new theology of a non-retaliatory God”, and therefore non-apocalyptic, but Paul then rejected and buried that theological diamond in his retaliatory apocalyptic Christ myth. Paul stated his entirely opposite theology in Romans 12: “’Vengeance is mine, I will repay’, says the Lord”. See also the Thessalonian letters.

Iconic myths like Paul’s retaliatory apocalyptic Christ myth have widely influenced human worldviews and consciousness and mestastasized into our wider societies.

The solution? Clean up the mess in theology or God theory. Theology is still the arena of thought that embodies humanity’s most important conclusions on ultimate meaning. Note the 85% of humanity affiliated with a world religion and most of the remaining 15% still “spiritual but not religious” (see World Religion Survey- https://www.pewforum.org/2012/12/18/global-religious-landscape-exec/).

Watch the self-fulfilling prophesy element in alarmist fear-mongering. Alarmism creates fatalism and resignation in populations (Julian Simon in Ultimate Resource). Alarmism then renders populations susceptible to destructive salvationist schemes as a response to the exaggerated fear scenarios of alarmists.

Note the widespread moaning today of how “messed up” the world is- that things are going to hell in a handbasket, and the consequent desperate search for some form of salvation (i.e. how to “save the world”). Anyone disagreeing with this alarmist hysteria is subject to cancelling as dangerously in denial of some form and guilty of promoting murderous skepticism.

Despite the hysteria, evidence continues to reveal that the world today is far better off than at any time in previous history (e.g. Humanprogress.org). Beware, also in the mix, the fallacy of “presentism” that feels that because we are experiencing problems today it must be the worst of times ever (James Payne in History of Force).

See this important paper “Long-term Trends in Global Gross Primary Productivity” at http://www.co2science.org/articles/V23/aug/a1.php on the massive greening of our planet (an increase in green vegetation equal to twice the size of the continental US land area over just the past 40 years).

“Multiple studies have confirmed that global gross primary productivity (GPP) has been increasing in recent decades… Analysis of the chief factors responsible for this incredible increase in GPP reveal the ongoing rise in atmospheric CO2 occupies the top spot…

“In considering all of the above, it is clear that fears of a soon-to-be-collapsing terrestrial biosphere are vastly overstated. Rather than declining in vigor as so many climate alarmists falsely claim, the world’s land vegetation is increasing its robustness, and has been doing so for over at least the past eleven decades.

“Ironically, the reason for that enhancement is the very action climate alarmists claim should be decimating it: humanity’s increasing use of fossil fuels.

“The combustion of fossil fuels is the principal driver of the contemporary increase witnessed in both atmospheric CO2 and nitrogen deposition. And, if you believe the climate alarmists that rising CO2 is the sole cause of modern warming, well, you can add the positive effects from a warming climate to CO2 and nitrogen deposition as an attributable factor driving the positive trends in GPP.

“Humanity and nature should therefore be thankful for the use of fossil fuels instead of demonizing it as so many climate alarmists do. They couldn’t be more misguided.”

Correlations to note

There is a notable correlation between alarmism (i.e. climate alarmism, environmental alarmism in general) and dangerous eruptions of the totalitarian impulse in populations (the “creeping totalitarianism” of eco-alarmism today). I have noted this relationship and the outcomes repeatedly in sections below. The apocalyptic millennial scholars listed below (Arthur Herman, Richard Landes, Arthur Mendel, David Redles) have detailed this pattern in Marxism, Nazism, and now environmental alarmism. Eco-alarmism is a direct attack on freedom and that ought to concern all of us. An argument on this site is that primitive apocalyptic mythology still plays a significant role in contemporary alarmism movements.

Revised material from below…

Patterns and outcomes to watch in alarmist movements

First, alarmism exaggerates real problems in our world that must be confronted and solved. Alarmism exaggerates such problems to apocalyptic-scale with “end-of-days” scenarios and prophesies, speculating far beyond evidence. 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. With only one degree Centigrade of warming over the past century, our still abnormally cold world is not in danger of over-heating (see Two Best Things Happening Today for paleo-climate context).

Examples: Senator AOC prophesied in 2018 that we only have 12 years to the end of the world. Or the father of global warming alarmism, James Hansen, who prophesied in 2008 that “Its all over in five years”. President 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.

Julian Simon in Ultimate Resource showed us how to find our way to a better understanding of the true state of something. He argued that we should 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 changes across history, see for example Ian Plimer’s detail on paleo-climate history in Heaven and Earth).

(Insert- Example of the complete big picture perspective on an issue: Soil erosion is a real problem that we must continue to confront and solve. But soil erosion alarmists will tell you that, for example, prairie soils lose about 4-5 tons of soil per acre per year. They do not tell you that much of that soil just blows or washes to neighboring soil areas and very little is lost permanently to local waterways. And they do not tell you that prairie soils can generate new soil at higher rates per acre than are lost so there is sometimes a net gain of soil over time, not a net loss. The true state of agricultural soils shows that the soil erosion problem is not as catastrophic as alarmists often present it.)

Alarmist exaggeration then arouses the survival impulse in populations, rendering people susceptible to alarmist salvation 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 incites the totalitarian impulse in frightened people.

How so?

Alarmists claim that the threat to life or the world is always “imminent”, as noted in the prophesies just above. The apocalypse is just up ahead a few years or decades, just over the horizon (again, the latest “end of days” climate scenario claims 2030 as the final date). The imminence of the claimed threat then justifies abandoning normal democratic processes and banning open debate and skepticism. Skepticism and ongoing debate are portrayed as murderous attempts to block our very survival. Skeptics to alarmist scenarios are publicly shamed, personally attacked (e.g. labelled “Holocaust deniers”), silenced, fired/cancelled, and even subject to criminalization endeavors- 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). Support for alarmist salvation schemes is buttressed 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 many policies/programs that are being presented to fully ‘decarbonize’ our societies in the next years/decades.

The outcomes of alarmist eruptions have often been extremely harmful, more harmful than the original purported problem. Alarmist salvation schemes have also harmed the very environment that environmentalists claim they want to protect. Example: note the outcome of more deforestation that resulted from the bio-fuels movement. Or the anti-GM activism that hinders the spread hi-yield crops that enable developing country farmers to produce more crop on the same or less land and thereby lessen deforestation. Or the anti-nuclear activism that hinders the development of a clean and reliable source of energy for human development (wealth creation) so necessary for protecting the environment.

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 exposes the anti-humanism of environmental alarmism- the 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 to engage the natural world and improve life 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.

Further, note the revival of the same old crusade of ‘anti-industrial society Marxism’ in the mix of environmental alarmism. Eco-alarmists argue that capitalist, technological civilization is essentially greed-oriented and destructive (individual freedom exists in irreconcilable 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.

Varied other fallacies in alarmist ideology: The “limited good” or limited natural resources fallacy, the fragile nature myth, the belief that there is stasis in nature at some optimal state (unchanging climax situations), the “nature knows best” myth, and so on.

Further, and most critical, consider the enduring fallacy of apocalyptic mythology in the mix of alarmist ideological themes. 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 19th Century Declinism and its offspring- environmental alarmism.

Note: The development of institutions to protect individual freedom (Daniel Hannan’s Inventing Freedom) unleashed human creativity in early industrial, technological society and that resulted in the explosion of wealth creation around 1820 that has lifted billions out of poverty (Willian Bernstein’s The Birth of Plenty) and enabled humanity to better care for and restore the natural world as never before. Note the details on the beneficial outcomes of industrialization in ‘Population Bombed’ by Szurmak and Desrochers, or see the summaries at Humanprogress.org, of how industrial society has benefited nature.

Michael Shellenberger, author of “Apocalypse Never: Why environmental alarmism hurts us all”, said the following in a Forbes article: “Why Apocalyptic Claims About Climate Change Are Wrong”…

“Climate scientists are speaking out against grossly exaggerated claims about global warming.

“Environmental journalists and advocates have in recent weeks made a number of apocalyptic predictions about the impact of climate change. Bill McKibben suggested climate-driven fires in Australia had made koalas “functionally extinct.” Extinction Rebellion said “Billions will die” and “Life on Earth is dying.” Vice claimed the “collapse of civilization may have already begun.”

“Few have underscored the threat more than student climate activist Greta Thunberg and Green New Deal sponsor Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The latter said, “The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.” Says Thunberg in her new book, “Around 2030 we will be in a position to set off an irreversible chain reaction beyond human control that will lead to the end of our civilization as we know it.”

“Apocalyptic statements like these have real-world impacts. In September, a group of British psychologists said children are increasingly suffering from anxiety from the frightening discourse around climate change.”

“Apocalyptic climate claims have had a major impact. In September 2019, a survey of 30,000 people around the world found that 48 percent believed climate change would make humanity extinct. In January of this year, a survey found that one in five British children were having nightmares about climate change.”

An argument on this site: The ultimate issue behind alarmism eruptions over history has to do with an ultimate meaning issue. It has to do with the central pathology in human consciousness across history, as evident in humanity’s great narratives or belief systems- i.e. the fear of some greater punitive, destroying Force or Spirit. And the related myth that humanity is basically corrupt/sinful and deserves punishment and destruction. Note these themes, for example, in Sumerian and biblical flood myths. These primitive myths of destroying deity punishing ‘bad to the bone’ humanity continue in so-called “secular” versions today- i.e. vengeful Gaia, pissed Mother Earth, angry Planet, or karma punishing the virus or cancer on the planet- humanity.

My response to this pathology? See “The heart of the matter” below.

I take a ‘reflexive skepticism’ stance toward alarmist exaggeration of problems in the world. This is not denial of the problems but rather an initial position that better enables the search for the true state of a problem. There is just far too much alarmist exaggeration, even hysteria, every time some potentially threatening issue comes to public attention.

For example, climate change is occurring just as it has all across history, but the changes during our inter-glacial, and today, are mild fluctuations compared to the much more severe climate swings/changes of the last 30,000 years of the previous glaciation (see the climate change graph of the past 50,000 years on p. 33 of Ian Plimer’s Heaven and Earth). Climate is a complex and dynamic system that is never in stasis at some optimal state. Though more plant food- i.e. CO2- and warmer temperatures are, overall, far more optimal for life (see “Two best things” just below).

And no one denies that CO2 has a warming effect on climate but the evidence shows that other natural factors consistently overwhelm the CO2 influence that is exceedingly small (see the summary of climate physicist Richard Lindzen’s paper at https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/08/03/weekly-climate-and-energy-news-roundup-418/.

Note also the mythical/theological influences on alarmism in sections below (the ‘background noise’ factor from human grand narratives).

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 alarmist exaggeration distorts the fact that life has been flourishing in response to more basic plant food- CO2. Julian Simon in Ultimate Resource showed us how to get to the true state of something- i.e. 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- i.e. the felt need to coercively purge some imagined threat to life. The claimed threat today is too many people enjoying the good life in industrial civilization that is based on inexpensive fossil fuels. Hence, “decarbonization” is the latest salvationist program. The outcomes of such salvationism have already been harmful and will be even more devastating to people and to nature.

Quotes from the three critical markers of authentic humanity, and the basis of our common shared values.

“Unconditional as a foundational ideal orients us to…

“1) Embrace the fundamental oneness of the human family, that we are all part of one common reality and that urges us to include 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)…”

Insert note: The never-ending assault on our most vital asset- freedom. An excellent discussion with Jordan Peterson on the rise of Neo-Marxism today… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7e_BaXU3mA

Section topics: “The true state of life” (5 most basic resources); “Three animal impulses. Three alternative human impulses” (3 critical markers of authentic humanity or common shared values); “The metaphysical side”- 2 fallacies, 2 alternatives; “The two best things happening today”. And more on the features of alarmism movements, the destructive outcomes, and the historical roots of alarmism in primitive apocalyptic mythology (lines of descent over history).

The true state of the main world resources

While problems exist everywhere, they are solvable and humanity has done well in caring for and preserving world resources. See, for example, Julian Simon’s ‘Ultimate Resource’ or ‘Population Bombed’ by Szurmak and Desrochers.

(1) World forest cover in the 1950s was 3.8 billion hectares (FAO stats). World forest cover today is 4.1-plus billion hectares, despite the world population tripling from 2.4 billion people in the early 1950s to almost 8 billion today. Deforestation rates continue to decline and reforestation/afforestation projects continue to succeed.

(2) Proven species extinctions- about 1.5 per year, the same rate as over the past 500 years (others argue the rate may be somewhat higher but not much). While nature has destroyed over 95% of all species, compassionate humanity is now protecting species as never before. See Julian Simon’s chapter on the IUCN report on species loss and the discredited assumption/correlation between habitat loss and species extinctions.

(3) Climate change (the atmosphere): A mild one degree Centigrade of warming over the past century and a half. That slightly warmed our still abnormally cold world (average surface temperatures of 14.5 degrees Centigrade today) that is still 5 degrees Centigrade below the optimal average surface temperatures of the past 500 million years (19.5 degrees Centigrade). And contrary to the falsified climate models, there is no settled evidence of much more warming occurring in the future. There is no “climate crisis”.

(4) Ocean fisheries are not collapsing and aquaculture is meeting the growing human demand for fish. See Ray Hilborn reports and FAO summaries on fisheries.

(5) The overall agricultural soils land-base is not severely degrading. Also, any soil erosion must be understood in net terms, as related to new soil regeneration rates. Further, over the past century and more, we have returned hundreds of millions of hectares of agricultural soil back to nature as hi-yield GM crops enable farmers to produce more crop on the same or less land. We have probably already passed “peak-agricultural land” use. Humanity now produces 25% more food than we need. Hydroponics will also meet much of future food demands.

And a note to all of our children: Do not fear the future on our planet. We will continue to solve the remaining world resource problems and life will continue to get ever better than before. Your personal contribution to making life better will add to humanity’s overall success.

“Apocalyptic climate claims have had a major impact. In September 2019, a survey of 30,000 people around the world found that 48 percent believed climate change would make humanity extinct. In January of this year, a survey found that one in five British children were having nightmares about climate change.” (Michael Shellenberger)

3 nasty animal impulses. 3 alternative human impulses (counters to the nasty). Or- What are the most basic common shared values for human society? What most fundamentally defines us as human?

The ‘unconditional treatment of everyone’ 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.

Our greatest enemy is not some other person and our greatest battle in life is not an external struggle. Our greatest enemy is inside us and our greatest battle is an interior one. As Solzhenitsyn said, “The great battle between good and evil runs down the center of every human heart”.

Laser in on these three fundamental things, whether they are expressed in ideas, themes, perspectives, feeling/impulses, responses, or actions. They can be detected 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 justice and destructive retaliation toward imperfect and differing others.

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.

Unconditional orients us to…

1) Embrace the fundamental oneness of the human family, that we are all part of one common reality and that urges us to include 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/practices 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.

The metaphysical side

A simplified, brief response for those concerned about the “spiritual” issues (i.e. ultimate meaning issues) in alarmism movements such as environmental alarmism. This would encompass most of humanity (i.e. the 85% affiliated with a world religion, with most of the remaining 15% “spiritual but not religious”). This summary is a response to “teach your children well” (Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young), and intended to counter the growing malady of “eco-anxiety” now rampant among children.

I have isolated two core fallacies in the alarmism mythology (i.e. apocalyptic) that has long infected human consciousness and worldviews in both religious and “secular/ideological” traditions. This is where the human impulse for meaning went profoundly wrong.

(1) The myth of some greater Force/Spirit that is punitive and destroying, whether the angry God of world religions, or the newer versions of ‘threat theology’ as in “vengeful Gaia, angry Planet, pissed Mother Earth, retributive Universe, or payback karma”. This pathology of ultimate threat has long deformed humanity’s ultimate ideal and ultimate embodiment of meaning- deity (in religious terms- “theology”, or God theories).

(2) Humanity as a fallen, sinful and corrupt species that deserves punishment and destruction in apocalypse or hell. This is expressed in contemporary anti-human views of humanity as the “virus or cancer” on the planet.

I would offer two potent counter themes to these fallacies from the best of human “spiritual” insights (ultimate meaning insights).

(1) There is no punitive, destroying Force or deity behind life. There is only Love at the core of all reality- a stunning ‘no conditions love’ at the core of life. This was the central insight of the Historical Jesus (a person entirely opposite to Christian ‘Jesus Christ’). God as inexpressible unconditional love is also the central discovery/insight from the NDE movement.

(2) We, in our truest inner self or person, are that same love (the human union with the divine- or, deity as the human spirit in all of us). We are most essentially good at our core. The darker side of humanity can be understood in terms of our inherited animal brain and impulses. But “We are not our brains” to paraphrase Jeffrey Schwartz.

We are something much better. As Historical Jesus quoted an Old Testament saying, “You are gods”.

Essential human goodness has exhibited across history in human compassion and creativity improving life overall (e.g. Julian Simon in Ultimate Resource) and particularly in the lessening of violence across history (James Payne in History of Force, Stephen Pinker in Better Angels of Our Nature).

See “CO2 feeds the world” at https://wattsupwiththat.com/2020/08/05/watching-co2-feed-the-world/

The two best things happening today– rising CO2 levels and the warming of Earth’s average surface temperatures have resulted in a much greener Earth and life flourishing in response.

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 that 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.

Some conclusions:

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.

Section topics: Dennett’s overly-confident materialism; Classic Liberal defense of freedom of speech; Metaphysical meandering; 3 nasty animal impulses and 3 alternative human impulses; The 2 worst ideas and 2 best alternatives; The curse of alarmism; The true state of life (basic world resources); The two best things happening today- warming temperatures and rising CO2; News media creating fear (David Altheide).

Affirming climate change:

Affirmed: 97% of us agree that climate change is occurring. The atmosphere is a dynamic, complex system that is never in stasis (i.e. unchanging). But the climate changes of the past few hundred years have been mild compared to the far more severe climate changes that occurred during the last 30,000 years of the previous glaciation, some 50-20,000 years ago. See the graph of historical climate changes on page 33 of Ian Plimer’s Heaven And Earth.

Affirmed: Most of us agree that CO2 plays a role in global warming. It is part of the minor greenhouse gases (along with methane, nitrous oxide, etc.). Water vapor is the main greenhouse gas and has the largest influence on climate.

Affirmed: CO2 is not the main or sole driver of climate warming. Good science shows that CO2 plays a minor role in climate change and its influence on climate is consistently overwhelmed by other natural elements that also influence climate change (e.g. cosmic ray/sun/cloud interaction, ocean/atmosphere interaction).

Affirmed: There is no climate crisis and no consequent need to reduce fossil fuel use. Access to inexpensive fossil fuels save every American family $2,500 per year.

Affirmed: The ongoing alarmist hysteria over climate change is shaped more by the primitive mythology of apocalyptic. The dominant myth today that there is a looming “climate catastrophe” is not based on any “settled science” or “consensus”. Almost 32,000 scientists signed the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine ‘Protest Petition’ challenging the alarmist view on climate change.

Project: Countering alarmist despair and irrational fear with rational, evidence-based hope…

Getting to the true state of life as evident in the 5 main world resources and based on the most credible data sources.

While problems exist everywhere, we are solving them and humanity has done well in learning from past mistakes, and now caring for and preserving world resources. See, for example, Julian Simon’s ‘Ultimate Resource’ or ‘Population Bombed’ by Szurmak and Desrochers.

(1) World forest cover in the 1950s was 3.8 billion hectares (FAO stats). World forest cover today is 4.1-plus billion hectares, despite the world population tripling from 2.4 billion people in the early 1950s to almost 8 billion today. Deforestation rates continue to decline and reforestation/afforestation projects continue to succeed.

(2) Land species: Proven species extinctions have been about 1-2 per year, the same rate as over the past 500 years. Others argue that the rate may be somewhat higher, but not much. While nature has destroyed over 95% of all species, compassionate humanity is now protecting species as never before. See Julian Simon’s chapter on the IUCN report on species loss and the discredited assumption/correlation between habitat loss and species extinctions.

(3) Climate change (the atmosphere resource): There has been a mild one degree Centigrade of warming over the past century and a half. That slightly warmed our still abnormally cold world. Our world’s average surface temperatures of 14.5 degrees Centigrade today are still 5 degrees Centigrade below the optimal surface temperatures of the past 500 million years that averaged 19.5 degrees Centigrade. And contrary to the falsified climate models, there is no settled evidence of much more warming occurring in the future. Point? While climate is always changing, there is no “climate crisis”.

(4) Ocean fisheries are not collapsing and aquaculture is meeting the growing human demand for fish. See Ray Hilborn reports and FAO summaries on fisheries.

(5) The overall agricultural soils land-base is not severely degrading. Also, any soil erosion must be understood in net terms, as related to new soil regeneration rates. Further, over the past century and more, we have returned hundreds of millions of hectares of agricultural soil back to nature as hi-yield GM crops enable farmers to produce more crop on the same or less land. We have probably already passed “peak-agricultural land” use. Humanity now produces 25% more food than we need. Hydroponics will also meet much of future food demands.

A concluding note for our children: Do not fear the future on our planet. We will continue to solve the remaining world resource problems and life will continue to get ever better than before. Your personal contribution to making life better will add to humanity’s overall success.

Added note: “Apocalyptic climate claims have had a major impact. In September 2019, a survey of 30,000 people around the world found that 48 percent believed climate change would make humanity extinct. In January of this year, a survey found that one in five British children were having nightmares about climate change.” (Michael Shellenberger)

The two best things happening today– rising CO2 levels and the warming of Earth’s average surface temperatures have resulted in a much greener Earth and life flourishing in response.

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 that 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, no 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).

A greener world with 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 now 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. An ice-free world 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 then carried north and south toward the poles. In a warming world the Equator does not become excessively hotter but rather the colder regions become warmer 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 polar 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. He says, “’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.

Some conclusions:

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 ongoing greening of our planet.

The above evidence affirms that there is no climate apocalypse on the horizon. See also “Patterns and outcomes in alarmist movements”, in sections below.

Affirming climate change:

Affirmed: 97% of us agree that climate change is occurring. The atmosphere is a dynamic, complex system that is never in stasis (unchanging). But the climate changes of the past few hundred years have been mild compared to the climate changes that occurred during the last 30,000 years of the previous glaciation, some 50-20,000 years ago. See the graph of historical climate changes on page 33 of Ian Plimer’s Heaven And Earth.

Affirmed: Most of us agree that CO2 plays a role in global warming. It is part of the minor greenhouse gases (along with methane, nitrous oxide, etc.). Water vapor is the main greenhouse gas and has the largest influence on climate.

Affirmed: CO2 is not the main or sole driver of climate warming. Good science shows that CO2 plays a minor role in climate change and its influence on climate is consistently overwhelmed by other natural elements that also influence climate change (e.g. cosmic ray/sun/cloud interaction, ocean/atmosphere interaction).

Affirmed: There is no climate crisis and no consequent need to reduce fossil fuel use. Access to inexpensive fossil fuels save every American family $2,500 per year.

Affirmed: The ongoing alarmist hysteria over climate change is shaped more by the primitive mythology of apocalyptic. The dominant myth today that there is a looming “climate catastrophe” is not based on any “settled science” or “consensus”. Almost 32,000 scientists signed the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine ‘Protest Petition’ challenging the alarmist view on climate change.

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”.

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.

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/ and

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.

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.”

Alarmism: The exaggeration of real problems in life, often out to apocalyptic-scale (i.e. the end of days), that distorts the true state of a problem. Alarmism incites the worst of human emotions and responses. It arouses the survival impulse in populations, rendering people susceptible through fear, anxiety, and depression, to embrace salvation schemes (i.e. “save the world”) that have far worse outcomes than the purported original problem. The salvation schemes of alarmists embrace the need for “coercive purging” of the threat, along with “instantaneous transformation” of society and life, because the threat is always imminent and dire.

The outcomes of alarmist terrorism have been horrifically destructive as evident in these examples: Rachel Carson’s apocalyptic narrative in Silent Spring influenced the ban on DDT that resulted in the unnecessary deaths of millions of people in following decades, many of them children (see The Excellent Powder by Tren and Roberts). The bio-fuels fiasco resulted in rising food prices for the poorest people and further deforestation for palm oil plantations. The anti-GM crops/foods activism resulted in the unnecessary deaths of millions of children denied Vitamin A in Golden Rice. The push for decarbonization has already harmed the poorest people with rising energy prices and will further devastate the populations of developing countries that are trying to escape poverty with the help of inexpensive fossil fuels.

Understand the themes of background narratives- i.e. notably apocalyptic mythology- that fuel alarmist movements. This site probes the history and main themes of the apocalyptic complex of themes and their descent down through history- from primitive mythologies, to world religions, to the “secular” ideologies of our contemporary world (i.e. Declinism- the myth that life declines toward some great catastrophic collapse and ending).

Countering primal fears; answering primal human impulses for meaning/purpose

Recently, I listened to Daniel Dennett taking part in a group discussion with Steve Toulmin, Freeman Dyson, Oliver Sachs, Stephen Gould, and Rupert Sheldrake (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUWd5xgLXBU). It was interesting to note how Dennett set forth his arguments, stating the options for those who disagreed with him (i.e. its either this or that) in the terms of limited materialist conclusions, based on his philosophical assumptions about the various alternatives. He gave the impression that his options (e.g. the claim that consciousness is fully explained by the material brain) were proven science when they are not. His assumptions are only what he hopes ‘promissory materialism’ will affirm sometime in an ever-extending future of materialist hopefulness.

You can explain in voluminous detail brain functions and brain material down to the level of the configuration of molecules and atoms in neurons, along with electrical/chemical interactions, but that does not justify the leap to concluding that you have “explained consciousness”.

(Insert: My point in going after philosophical materialism? It does not grasp the primal human impulse for meaning/purpose, and it does not properly resolve the primal fears common to most people across history. Materialism’s alternative-limiting responses do little to help most people.)

Dennett’s leaps of assumption, much like religious “leaps of faith”, are not supported by science. He does not admit the fact, now established in science, that there is a non-converging parallel track in science history- i.e. that science uncovers ever-more profound mystery about reality, alongside the track of explaining ever-more of past mysteries.

There is no sound scientific basis to Dennett’s claim that his materialist views and conclusions are the final scientific conclusions. Though admittedly, they are conclusions accepted among fellow materialists. Like many on the religious side that cross the science/religion boundary, so Dennett crosses the science/philosophy boundary to make his conclusions (see Sabine Hossenfelder’s Lost in Math for illustrations of how theoretical physicists regularly cross this boundary).

Joseph Campbell said that the great scientific minds have always admitted that “we do not know what any thing is” (i.e. the essential nature of things). This is actually the conclusion that quantum physics has brought us to- that we live in a “weird” reality. See, for example, Jim Baggot’s “Mass” where he concludes that we are further away today from knowing what material reality is than we were a century ago. Hence, we all should be less dogmatic about what we can know with certainty.

Dennett takes the other position, overly-confidently asserting that his philosophical materialism is answering all mystery with naturalist explanations. Science does no such thing. As amazing as the discoveries of the scientific movement have been over the past few centuries, science takes us only so far and then each of us is left to make our own conclusions about reality and what it means. Science alone will never be the ultimate truth-teller.

I have concluded that dualist-like explanations (e.g. John Eccles) are more coherent, logical, credible, and rational than Dennett’s excessively confident and unproven materialism. I would affirm that consciousness/mind is the ultimate reality, the “causal source” of all material reality. Consciousness, as David Chalmers says, is “primitive” or fundamental like gravity and is not dependent on the material brain for its existence. I would go further than Chalmers and affirm that consciousness is the most fundamental of realities.

And hence the conclusion of the early quantum theorists, like James Jean, that the universe was “more a great thought than a machine”. And yes, consciousness has an intense interaction with material reality.

So, a rational “No” to the dogmatic certainty of Susan Blackmore who confidently stated, “Dualism is dead”.

Note: Stuart Hameroff takes a similar materialist position to Dennett’s. He said in a YouTube video regarding microtubule research that “we are almost there” in providing the final answers to how the brain creates consciousness. He sounded very much like the physicists near the end of the 19th Century that were assuring us that physics was almost wrapped up with just some loose ends to tie up. Meanwhile, in the background quantum mechanics was emerging and about to explode in their faces.

Richard Dawkins also said regarding consciousness (again, too dogmatically for my tastes), “It’s all just there in the brain” (Joe Rogan podcast). Hameroff’s colleague in microtubule research, Roger Penrose, was a bit more cautious on the microtubule research during a Rogan podcast, peppering his comments with “We don’t really know… We are not sure… We do not have evidence…” and so on. Such is the caution of great scientific minds regarding this profoundly mysterious reality that we are, and that we exist within.

Note: There is only one reality that you can be certain of- Your personal consciousness. It appears to be the ultimate reality behind all other realities.

Control

Someone said the worst dictators in life are the little ones that you cannot escape. It is easier to avoid the big dictators that live far away in some political center but hard to avoid the one’s that live at home, in the neighborhood, or at your workplace. Little dictators? Yes, the people (busybodies) that cannot keep their big noses in their own lives but have to interfere with other’s lives- criticizing, humiliating, condemning, threatening, and controlling others, whether via words, rules and regulations, physical intimidation, or whatever.

And one blind-spot that dictators, at all scales, never seem to grasp/understand that often leads to their eventual downfall- that the use of threat and fear to cow others to their will, only creates instability and undermines support for whatever programs they are promoting. Any approach that coerces others with threat/intimidation then creates the pushback that comes from resentment at such threat and control. Such coercive approaches will undermine support for the programs (foot-dragging, refusal to comply) and lead to their eventual collapse.

Including others (those affected by some program or policy) as free equals in the initial decision-making regarding the program or policy will increase support for the program as those involved will feel the decision was also theirs (part of their self-determination). They will then take more ownership of the program and responsibility for its success.

Control of others is an ugly thing that we humans do that causes immense misery for others. Personal freedom and self-determination are critical to human self-identity and well-being. Political leaders, bosses at work, leaders in all sorts of social institutions, and family heads, all need to ponder these things.

Note: This is a word to those involved in the “creeping totalitarianism” of today- i.e. the cancel culture mobs, violent demonstrators, and others. You are assaulting the freedom of others today. It may be your freedom that is assaulted and undermined tomorrow.

An important principle of classic Liberalism affirmed: “I may not like what you say. I may even be offended by it. But I will die to protect your right and your freedom to express your opinion”. This position argues that if the freedom of some was constrained then the freedom of all was threatened. Where has this old standard gone in the face of today’s contemporary Liberalism/Progressivism, with its tense and constant on-edge sense of offense and victimhood over the poorly phrased comments, use of improper and banned terms, and even the tone of voice of disagreeing others? Such micro-imperfections, often unintentional, enrage today’s intolerant and cancel-oriented hyper-partisans, on both sides, that have abandoned classic Liberalism for a creeping totalitarianism that tries to control, silence, and ban the diverse and disagreeing other.

Where have you gone, Classic Liberalism?

Protected freedom

The great progress of the past few centuries in lifting billions out of the misery of poverty and in creating the wealth and technology that has enabled us to protect and restore nature, this progress is based on the widespread protection of human freedom, particularly the protection of individual freedom and rights, property rights being the most critical. See William Bernstein’s ‘Birth of Plenty’ and Daniel Hannen’s ‘Inventing Freedom’ for the history and development of the institutions that undergird human freedom.

The invention of protected freedom has unleashed human creativity to solve problems and improve life as never before in history. But our freedom has been relentlessly assaulted by collectivist approaches that first and foremost reject private property rights and freedoms. How has this worked out for populations? Venezuela, once one of the wealthiest countries on Earth, has allowed collectivism to devastate its population and environment over just a few years. It has become just another in a historical line of repeated failed collectivist experiments. Zimbabwe, once the prosperous breadbasket of Africa, is another example.

Note: A good history of the back and forth tug between individual freedom and collectivism can be read in Arthur Herman’s The Cave and The Light.

Some metaphysical meandering, or Love and Light is All (ultimate meaning, ultimate reality)

This site rejects the view of deity that has been defined by the world religions across the millennia. I refer to the God that intervenes miraculously to overrule natural law and invasively controls and directs the events of the natural world or human affairs. Add to this the theological features of punitive destruction and salvation conditions. Such a God is no longer a credible reality for humanity to hold as an ultimate ideal and authority. That religious God has never existed. It was always a creation of religious minds.

On the other hand…

This site also rejects the view of ultimate reality that is promoted by philosophical materialism or materialist science, which proposes that ultimate reality and meaning will be limited to something defined more materially or naturalistically by things like quantum fields/disturbances, natural law, energy, information, or Self-Organizing Principles. While such things are essential to what reality is, they do not conclusively define ultimate reality.

But yes, the great Mystery that birthed this cosmos, and is the sustaining essence of every atom, has most certainly created all things and continues to manifest its sustaining presence via quantum reality and natural law. It is the organizing principle behind all emergences.

Creative humanity can do better than these two ‘irrational’ dead ends- religious deities or materialist alternatives. While we value materialist science for its valuable exposure of irrationality in religion, its naturalist explanations alone do not meet the deepest impulses of people for meaning and purpose. Further, materialist explanations do not respond to humanity’s primal fears (e.g. fear of divine punishment in this life through the natural world, and fear of after-life harm).

The Ultimate Reality and Mystery at the core of all material reality is perhaps better understood in terms of Ultimate Consciousness or Mind, and this has been the intuitive understanding of most of humanity across history- i.e. that we are part of some greater reality that is more than just energy or Force, or natural law. It has something to do with Mind, Consciousness, Intelligence and therefore also Self or Personhood. Such understanding has been behind the personifications that people have long referred to as God or gods. This widespread and historically common understanding of ultimate reality affirms that consciousness is the fundamental reality behind material reality.

I would affirm with Joseph Campbell that the reality or Mystery called God is transcendently and infinitely beyond the name or term God (“The God transcendently beyond God”). Nonetheless, one feature above all others can be safely embraced to define this ever-present and sustaining Mystery and that feature is Love. More specifically, no conditions Love which is our highest conception of ultimate Good. Light would be another defining feature of this transcendent Mystery.

The Mystery that is deity is most intensely present in the human spirit that enlivens every person. This deity is closer to us than our own breath or atoms. We are all equally incarnated by this Source of all and our personal Self is inseparable from it, though we are also distinctly unique individuals with freedom of choice or self-determination. That God is inseparable from the human spirit and person, means that deity is immediately and equally present to everyone, and is manifest in every human life and story.

Insights from contemporary ‘spiritual’ movements also affirm that the core Love that is God is also the innermost essence of our human spirit and consciousness. That is the real us. That same Love that is God is also our true nature and being. We are not our inherited animal brain or body. We are so much more. We are most essentially Love and Light just as God is.

This means that any divine manifestation in this world comes only through our diverse and unique human stories, through our words and actions (i.e. human rage against wrong, human action to make things right or better). We are God in this world. Much like Historical Jesus quoted from an Old Testament Psalm- “You are gods”.

And this is equally true of every person. Deity theory that presents God as incarnated equally in every person also offers a new basis for human equality and mutual respect. Status in life, gender, race, and all other identity markers are peripheral to the single most important marker of human being- that you are an embodiment or incarnation of God (i.e. the human spirit), just as is equally true of anyone else.

How then to explain human evil? Some people, by inherited defect (i.e. a psychopathic brain, childhood trauma), or by personal choice, may deny their human spirit and opt to exhibit more their animal side with its dark impulses to tribally exclude others as enemies (denying the oneness of the human family), to dominate and control others (alpha male/female), or to punitively destroy others. Such is what we call human evil.

Now more on 2 of this, 3 of that, and 4 of the other…

3 nasty animal impulses. 3 alternative human impulses (counters to the nasty). The three worst things you can do to make life worse. The three best things you can do to make life better.

Or- What are the most basic common shared values for human society? What most fundamentally defines us as human?

The ‘unconditional treatment of everyone’ 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.

Our greatest enemy is not some other person and our greatest battle in life is not an external struggle. Our greatest enemy is inside us and our greatest battle is an interior one. As Solzhenitsyn said, “The great battle-line between good and evil runs down the center of every human heart”.

Laser in on these three fundamental things, whether they are expressed in ideas, themes, perspectives, feeling/impulses, responses, or actions. They can be detected 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 justice and destructive retaliation toward imperfect and differing others.

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.

Unconditional, as a meta-ideal, orients us to…

1) Embrace the fundamental oneness of the human family, that we are all part of one common reality and that urges us to include 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/practices 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.

The two worst ideas and the two best alternatives

Over my life I have undertaken what Joseph Campbell outlined in the ‘hero’s journey’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4288NRq1vVc). I have left my safe home, and gone forth in a great adventure, confronted a monster (in my case the Christian God and Christ myth), and I have been wounded in that battle. But I have also received the help of a wisdom sage to fight and overcome my monster. And during this life-long struggle I have died to my old self and struggled to be reborn as a new self (the disintegration of the old and the re-integration around something new, becoming something new). I have now discovered my boon to bring to life. This site is the product of my life’s struggle and story.

In the mix of comment here I have repeatedly presented the two worst ideas, the two “bad religious myths” that are still prominently embedded in human systems of meaning, in both religious and “secular/ideological” traditions. And I have then noted the two most helpful insights to counter these two pathologies in human thought, pathologies that have deformed people with unnecessary fear, anxiety, depression/despair, and even incited violence (see psychotherapist Zenon Lotufo’s ‘Cruel God, Kind God’).

My point is that destructive movements like contemporary Green alarmism are also very much about religious concerns or ultimate meaning issues. These historically recent movements, part of the more general environmental alarmism movement, are often just repeats of similar apocalyptic eruptions across history. Today’s variants of alarmism (e.g. climate alarm) embrace the same set of core themes as all past apocalyptic millennial belief systems (i.e. the core themes of our world religions): That there was a better past; corrupt people have ruined the original paradise world; life is now declining toward some disastrous ending or apocalypse as punishment for humanity’s sins; now humanity must make some sacrifice and coercively purge the imagined threat to life because democratic processes are too slow to save the world from the imagined threat that is imminent; and then we can instantaneously restore paradise or install utopia (not via the “gradualism” of democratic history but via the “instantaneous transformation” of totalitarian revolutions that apocalyptic alarmism promotes).

And while science is critical to respond to such alarmism, you must also deal with the deeper human meaning issues behind that alarmism if we are to properly and thoroughly solve alarmism and prevent the destructive outcomes that accompany these endless apocalyptic eruptions (e.g. the move today to rapidly ‘decarbonize’ our societies- the consequence of embracing the Green salvationist demand for “coercive purging” of some imagined imminent threat to life).

In the interest of getting right to the ultimate point, to the most critical issues of meaning, and to allay the most primal of human fears (i.e. fear of this-life harm through the natural world and fear of after-life harm), here are the two core themes of apocalyptic alarmism, the two core pathological themes that have dominated human worldviews from the beginning, in both mythological/religious traditions and more historically recently “secular/ideological” traditions.

These two “bad religious ideas” have metastasized out to infect all other areas of thought and feeling (see “Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives” below). The two are (1) the myths of some great threatening core reality, some Force or Spirit/deity that punishes and destroys (angry God, vengeful Gaia, angry Planet/Earth, retributive Universe, or karma). The other (2) is that humanity is essentially corrupt (fallen/sinful, a virus or cancer on Earth) and deserves punishment and destruction.

The alternative to these thought pathologies needs to embrace more than what philosophical materialism offers, i.e. ultimate explanations that end in quantum fields, natural law, mass as energy, Self-Organizing Principle, etc. To meet the deepest human needs for meaning and purpose, and to respond to the primal fears of people, I would offer these two alternatives/insights from “spiritual” traditions:

(1) That there is only love at the core of reality and (2) that core love is also the essence of our true self or nature, the essence of our human spirit and consciousness. Love- no conditions love- is our defining essential nature, our true core self. Hence, we do not deserve punishment or destruction as we struggle in this world with the imperfection of our inherited animal brain. Our struggle is not something to be damned and punished by some monster divinity.

Most critical to grasp is that the core of all reality and life is a stunningly inexpressible Love, an incomprehensible “no conditions” love and that means, among many other things- no ultimate threat, no coming judgment, no condemnation for failure/imperfection, no exclusion of anyone for failure in this life, no domination/slavery (ultimate freedom), and no punishment or destruction (no hell). With that new narrative background, we are liberated from fear of punishment that our ancestors believed came trough the imperfections of the natural world, and we are free from fear of after-life harm. We are free to fully embrace here-and-now life and to create a unique life story, to offer some unique contribution to life despite our never-ending struggle with our own imperfection and failures. And most important, with a sense of ultimate safety, we are free from the curse of the age-old fear of death.

These two core alternatives potently counter the most inhumane of our inherited animal impulses- i.e. the impulses to tribal exclusion of others/enemies, to coercive/enslaving domination of others, and to punitive justice toward imperfect others. The meta-ideal of no conditions love orients us to the best of the human spirit- i.e. to inclusion of all as equals, to respect the freedom and self-determination of others as equals, and to restorative treatment of human failure.

None of the world religions has ever communicated these liberating insights to humanity. The insight that the core of all reality is unconditional Love overturns the most damaging features of religious mythology from across history (i.e. myths of angry, destroying gods, threats of apocalypse or hell, and religious demands for atonement/sacrifice, etc.).

Qualifier: Recognizing that there are ‘this-world’ consequences to our choices and behavior, both social and natural consequences, but that we are ultimately safe in Love, we can then embrace our imperfection without excessive guilt or shame (i.e. not overly beating ourselves up over failure). We can then engage the struggle to become better persons with a healthy self-acceptance. So yes, embracing an ultimate Love does not mean there are no social and natural consequences in this life (i.e. the responsibility to discover, learn, and develop as human). But it should involve, at a minimum, the shift away from punitive justice to the restorative treatment of all human imperfection.

Note: I embrace a dualistic view of humanity in that human consciousness is not dependent on our material brain for its existence. Yes, our conscious self has an intense interaction with the brain, as per John Eccles. But as Jeffrey Schwartz says, we are not our brains. I have never seen a shred of conclusive evidence for the materialist dogmatism that the meat in our heads produces mind or the wonder of the human self.

Note: Monism is an acceptable alternative as long as it is understood that consciousness is the foundational reality in the monist mix (i.e. it creates the material realm as the expression of consciousness, and not the other way around).

Declinism

Arthur Herman has said that “Declinism is the single most dominant and influential theme in culture and politics in twentieth century”. Herman asks if the idea of decline is due to the natural aging and decline that each person experiences over the human life span. I would suggest that the sense of decline stems more from the long history of apocalyptic mythology dominating human worldviews and religions (systems of ultimate meaning). But while it is true that individual lives do experience decline and decay, and different societies also decline and disappear across history, the overall long-term trends of life and human civilization show ongoing progress and rise toward something better. Hence, decline is a distorting view of the long-term trajectory of life.

Curse of alarmism

We suffer today from the worldwide curse of alarmism, which is primitive apocalyptic thinking. And many promote the pathology of alarmism despite the hard-factual evidence that life has never been better on Earth (see Humanprogress.org for detail).

I have engaged some reverse engineering here to trace backwards the historical correlations that take us to the roots of the alarmist pathology in human consciousness and worldviews.
First, I define alarmism as “the exaggeration of problems in life (including changes in nature) out to apocalyptic-scale or end-of-days scenarios”.

We see the harm from alarmism in the fact that many children now suffer from eco-anxiety- i.e. the fear that life will end and they will die. A world survey showed that almost 50% of humanity believes that humanity will soon become extinct and that life will end in disaster.

Where does this apocalyptic madness and hysteria come from in our history?

Current climate alarmism is part of the broader environmental alarmism movement that stems from post-WW2 writers like Henry Osborn, Jr. (Our Plundered Planet) and William Vogt (Road to Survival). Other early apocalyptic prophets such as Rachel Carson and Paul Ehrlich added their voices to this growing apocalyptic movement. The continued promotion of this alarmism pathology has been taken up by more recent apocalyptic prophets such as James Hansen, and now Senator AOC (“The world will end in 2030”).

Environmental alarmism is the direct offspring of 19th Century Declinism- i.e. the belief that a better past has been ruined by emerging industrial civilization and hence life is now declining toward some disastrous collapse and ending. Declinism was shaped by the following mythical/religious themes: An original paradise has been ruined by corrupt humanity, life is now declining toward collapse and ending, and salvation demands the violent purging of the threat to life in order to restore the imagined lost paradise.

Declinism was very much shaped by these ideas that have long dominated Western consciousness via Christianity, notably, Paul’s version of Christianity that was shaped by his apocalyptic Christ myth (see Paul’s Thessalonian letters, also Peter’s letters, and John’s Revelation).

James Tabor is right that Paul has been the most influential person in history and his views have shaped Western consciousness and society more than any other influence. Tabor states that the myth of apocalyptic shaped all that Paul said and did. Paul’s apocalyptic Christ is primarily responsible for embedding and maintaining the pathology of apocalyptic in Western consciousness and society.

Others like Arthur Mendel have added that apocalyptic is “the most violent and destructive idea in history”. The destructiveness of apocalyptic hysteria is evident in such things as the outcome of Rachel Carson’s apocalyptic narrative in Silent Spring that influenced the ban on DDT and resulted in millions of unnecessary deaths in following decades from malaria, many of those children. So also we see the horrific outcomes of apocalyptic-scale hysteria in the rising death totals from other eruptions of alarmism- e.g. anti-GM crops activism and the consequent deaths of millions of children that were denied Vitamin A in Golden Rice. Or the harm to the poorest from rising food prices due to the bio-fuels fiasco (also, the increased deforestation for palm oil plantations). And now we are observing the destructive consequences of irrational decarbonization policies that are appearing in varied places (rising energy costs that impact the poorest people the most).

These harmful outcomes of apocalyptic-scale alarmism explains my tracing of the above correlations back through history to get to the ultimate root of the alarmism problem and the core themes at the center of this pathology- notably, the myth of punitive, destroying deity or Christ. Paul’s apocalyptic God and his apocalyptic Christ myth.

What then is the alternative that responds to the root pathology behind alarmism? I would offer the stunning new non-retaliatory theology of Historical Jesus. His non-retaliatory God was a non-apocalyptic God. Remember, apocalypse is the ultimate act of divine retaliation- to destroy humanity and the world. It is the ultimate act of eye for eye justice.

Jesus had stated the opposite theology in a behavior/belief relationship argument- i.e. “Do not retaliate with eye for eye justice but instead love your enemies, because God does. How so? God forgives all, includes all, and loves all as evident in giving the good gifts of life to both good and bad people”. There is no eye for eye apocalyptic retaliation in the original message of Historical Jesus (see comment on ‘Q Wisdom Sayings gospel’ research in sections below).

What has really changed at the core of things? Or, “The ‘new’ madness of contemporary crowds”.

Many of our contemporaries, often well-educated young people, claim to be secularist, materialist, and even atheist and they rightfully go after the bad features and sometimes harmful outcomes of religious traditions. But note the self-delusion that often occurs in the abandonment of a religious tradition at the superficial level of church membership, and religious rituals, beliefs, or lifestyle. Many have rejected such traditional religious features, for example, in the growing category of “unaffiliated” that was part of the recent ‘World Religion’ survey (https://www.pewforum.org/2012/12/18/global-religious-landscape-exec/).

But most in that growing ‘unaffiliated’ category still hold to the core themes of the religious traditions that they believe they have abandoned. However, they now embrace those mythical themes in new “secular” or ideological versions and that results in the common delusion of people believing that they have left religion while they still hold the core beliefs of religious traditions. Further, many converts to ‘unaffiliated’ hold these primitive mythical themes with a dogmatic certainty that is equal to any religious fundamentalist/extremist, thereby making them the mirror image of what they claim to reject.

So how are these moderns different from our primitive ancestors whose religious beliefs and traditions these same moderns now claim to reject?

Consider the following fundamental themes that are still held by broad sections of the world’s population, whether religious, agnostic, or atheist:

The past was better (original paradise myth, original pristine world), but corrupt people have ruined the better past and now life is declining toward something worse. Corrupt humanity- the virus/cancer on the planet- has ruined the original pure wilderness world with our industrial civilization and life is now declining toward collapse and apocalyptic ending. Angry deity (or the “secular” deities of vengeful Gaia, angry Planet, pissed Mother Earth, retributive Universe, payback karma) will soon punish humanity with an apocalyptic judgment and destruction. Salvation is to be found in offering some sacrifice (e.g. the return to a simple low-consumption lifestyle) and in coercively purging the imagined threat to life. Then the lost paradise can be restored.

Add to this mix of themes the old Zoroastrian dualism of being on the right side (the true religion) in a great battle against an evil enemy (the false, untrue, unrighteous forces). This dualism mythology incites the primitive, intolerant, and violent tribal impulse as nothing else does. Also, most people want to live the “hero’s adventure or story” that is viewed as a struggle for some good cause against some ‘evil’ opposition or monster.

These themes, common to contemporary Green religion or environmentalism, would make a Sumerian priest of 5,000 years ago feel right at home. These themes have dominated world mythologies from the beginning and were then embraced by the world religions over subsequent millennia. They are themes that have been common across all history and common to all the cultures of the world.

Here are the original mythical versions of the same themes: The past was better (original paradise in the Sumerian city of Dilmun, or the Eden myth). The loss of paradise due to an original human sin and the subsequent fall of humanity and decline of life toward something worse, toward eventual punishment by deity that would be a great collapse of life and apocalyptic ending (e.g. Sumerian Flood, Egyptian Destruction of Mankind, Return to Chaos). The religious requirement to make some sacrifice to appease the angry gods, and the need to violently purge the corrupting thing (usually corrupt humanity) in order to find salvation and to restore the lost paradise. And of course, encompass these themes within the ancient tribal dualism of good against evil.

These core themes of primitive mythology were given new “secular” expression during the transition away from the more widespread mythical thinking of past history and toward the more scientific/rational outlook of our modern era. The ideology of 19th Century Declinism emerged as an essential feature of human worldviews during this larger historical transition. The fact that Declinism has become “the single most dominant and influential theme in culture and politics in the Twentieth Century” (Arthur Herman in The Idea of Decline in Western History) shows that the shift involved the preservation and continuation of primitive mythology in the new scientific and ideological worldviews. The idea of decline is a fundamental feature of ancient apocalyptic mythology.

The terms/names are different now but the core themes of the primitive apocalyptic mythology remain ever the same old, same old. Young secularists today, often highly educated, are espousing the very same mythical/religious themes that we have inherited from the most primitive minds of ancient cultures. This makes many “secular” moderns as intensely religious as any ancestor that lived long before them. See ‘Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives’, below for more detail.

Ask yourself: What basic ideas shape your worldview?

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