Site topics: Resurging collectivism; The anti-liberalism of modern Liberalism; Presentism; The tragedy of being carried away by ‘crowd madness’; Hold something fundamental; Basic issues of the climate debate; and more…
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Important climate fact: 15- 20 times more people die every year from cold than die from warmth: (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150520193831.htm or https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673614621140?via%3Dihub) And you are afraid of more warming? A couple of more degrees warming in a still abnormally cold world will not be “catastrophic warming” but will benefit all life.
The arguments in the comment below are not intended to downplay the obligation to care for and use resources responsibly, conserving them for future generations. The comment is intended to counter the irresponsible fear-mongering over population growth and environmental issues. My comment is a counter to doom narratives that ignore the human success in caring for world resources and creatively finding alternatives to scarce resources. The true state of life is a narrative of hope.
A counter narrative to the great fallacy of too few resources, too many people– Wendell Krossa
A dark meta-narrative dominates much public consciousness today. It is doom-oriented and has a darkening and debilitating influence on the human spirit. It claims that too many people exist on Earth today, and they are greedily consuming Earth’s limited resources to the point of exhaustion, and thereby destroying the planet. Hence, the doom narrative claims that overall “life is getting worse” (YouGov survey in Ten Global Trends). (PS- And you wonder why so many people, including many children, suffer from anxiety and depression today? Irresponsible alarmist exaggeration has a potent harmful impact on people.)
Proponents of this gloomy narrative look for negative incidents/events and iconic images that affirm the doom message. We have all seen the starving polar bear on the ice floe accompanied by the entirely wrong claim that polar bears were going extinct when in fact their populations are thriving. Media have repeatedly shown us burning patches of forest or piles of garbage somewhere followed by the misleading propaganda that such anomalies illustrate the decline of life toward disastrous ending. And no, I am not dismissing the problems of wildfires, deforestation, or careless disposal of waste. But those media portrayals (often anecdotal incidents/images) do not communicate the true state of those issues.
Additionally, negative anomalies (e.g. downturns in long-term trends) do not affirm the decline of life toward disastrous ending.
Remember when oil prices rose in the mid-Oughts. Immediately, media were awash with renewed claims that we had reached “peak oil” and the final decline of that resource was then beginning. The “end” was nigh, once again. Numerous claims have been made by prophets of doom over past decades that varied resources would become exhausted and mass-death would result.
Note these predictions made around 1970: https://www.aei.org/carpe-diem/18-spectacularly-wrong-predictions-made-around-the-time-of-first-earth-day-in-1970-expect-more-this-year-3/
Harvard biologist George Wald said in 1970- “Civilization will end within 15-30 years”.
At that time Paul Ehrlich stated- “The death rate will increase at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years (1970-80)”. And “(between 1980 and 1989) some 4 billion people… would perish in the Great Die-Off”.
Peter Gunter said in 1970 that famine would cover the entire world except Western Europe, North America, and Australia. In 1970 Life magazine reported that scientists had evidence that city dwellers would have to wear gas masks to survive.
Ehrlich also claimed that life expectancy would decline to 42 years by 1980. Kenneth Watt declared that by 2000 there would be no more crude oil. Harrison Brown predicted that humanity would run out of key metals by 1990 (Ehrlich affirmed the same). Senator Gaylord Nelson claimed that by the mid-90s between 75-80 percent of all species of animals would be extinct. And on and on the doom predictions went. These apocalyptic prophets affirmed their message by endlessly and repeatedly setting the dates for the ‘end-of-days’.
This doom narrative distorts entirely the true state of life. It is a message of despair that incites fear and fortifies a sense of tribal exclusion and stinginess, even hoarding. It tells people that nature is stingy, resources are limited, and there are too many people clamoring for those limited resources, so fight for your own survival/success and that of your tribe. The doom narrative promotes the “limited good” fallacy of primitive societies- that if some are getting more then others must be losing out. The fallacy of limited resources generates fear, envy, resentment, desperation, and collectivist activism that views the only solution to the problems of life as confiscating the resources of successful people and redistributing them.
And on the other hand…
The true state of life affirms an entirely different narrative. All the main indicators of resources on Earth show stunning abundance in the natural world, even superabundance, and natural generosity that continues to amaze us (Marion Tupy of Humanprogress.org is preparing to publish a book on ‘Superabundance’). With more people arriving on Earth we find endless new exhibitions of creative action to solve problems and find solutions that benefit all. More people continue to produce inventive new technologies (goods and services) to improve the human condition and nature. The result has been ongoing improvement in all the major features of life. Consequently, there has been no limit to the resources that humanity needs.
Joanna Szurmak and Pierre Desrochers (Population Bombed) detail some of the main indicators of the real state of the world and life.
They note that people live longer and healthier lives and are wealthier and better educated. Reserves of oil are more abundant than ever, air and water quality are better, and forest cover has expanded significantly over recent decades. Critical to note in their book- “economic prosperity and a cleaner environment are the direct results of both population growth and humanity’s increased use of fossil fuels” (p.xvi).
They add further, taking cues from the earlier research of Julian Simon, that more people are more hands to work and more brains to innovate. Also, people are able to decouple from local limits through trade. They conclude that the pessimist narrative has been proven entirely wrong. Two centuries of evidence has disproven the pessimist narrative on population growth and resources. More people on Earth has resulted in economies of scale, more efficiency and productivity, and progressively less damaging ways of doing things (i.e. better outputs with fewer inputs).
We see the evidence of this widespread improvement of life in the fact that with billions more people there has not been mass starvation as the prophets of doom claimed but, instead, a stunning and ongoing increase in crop production with no limits in sight. More people, means more Norman Borlaugs to invent hi-yield crops and feed far more people, while saving more forest as hi-yield crops mean more agricultural product on the same or less land. And more people contributing to more human creativity and technological improvement feeds into ongoing trends like “de-materialization” which is the declining per capita use of material resources.
Others (i.e. Julian Simon) note the historical evidence of a process that kicks in to solve apparent resource scarcities if people are left free to solve problems. When there is a shortage of some resource, prices rise and that incentivizes people to discover more reserves of that resource, or to find/create alternatives. We saw this process operate in the 19th Century transition from whale oil to fossil fuels, in the discovery of fracking that opened massive new reserves of fossil fuels, and we are now watching this process operate in the ongoing discoveries regarding portable nuclear and fusion technologies (e.g. https://www.wsj.com/articles/mini-nuclear-reactors-offer-promise-of-cheaper-clean-power-11613055608). And what about futurist Arthur Clarke predicting that we would tap into dark energy in this century, giving us an infinitely unlimited source of energy?
Who knows what human creativity will break open for the future. Past long-term trends (our track record) affirm the hope that we will continue to solve problems, invent new technologies that cannot even be imagined yet, and ultimately create a better world and future. As Julian Simon said, we (humanity) have been more creators than destroyers. And we have done well in making life ever better.
Further, observe the natural beneficence of nature. As Bob Brinsmead oft reminds us, “Think of the sunshine that radiates the earth with abundance that never runs out. Think of the prodigious world of nature- how plants do not merely reproduce but reproduce an overflow from which all creatures feed. The generosity of nature is such that the harvest tends to be far greater than the sowing.”
An example of this profligate generosity of nature: One seed of corn will produce 2-4 new cobs of corn, each with 600-800 seeds. That is 1 seed of corn producing roughly 2000 new seeds of corn. And nature does most of the work once the seed is planted, with sun and rain provided freely for growth.
It is incontrovertible that there is a superabundance and generosity built into life, and with the addition of conscious human creativity and innovation tapping into that abundance, the result is endless improvement over the long term. The human mind introduces the limitless element into the mix because human freedom and creative thought opens infinite potential in all directions (Freeman Dyson).
This narrative of superabundance and ongoing improvement of life inspires hope, love, generosity, and should encourage the affirmation of human freedom to innovate, invent, and create. The narrative of hope undermines the stingy tribal reaction that views others as threats to one’s survival and incites the hoarding of resources from others. The narrative of unlimited generosity encourages more freedom to share the abundance of the world.
For extensive detail and data sources that affirm that more people are a benefit to life, and that human creativity transcends limits on resources, see the research of Julian Simon (Ultimate Resource) and Desrocher and Szurmak in Population Bombed, among others.
Doom narratives fail to grasp and present the true state of life because they ignore the fundamental goodness of people and they dismiss the unlimited creative potential of human minds.
Note: Feel free to toy with the idea that the generosity of nature speaks to the stunning generosity of metaphysical reality behind nature.
Note: The themes of doom narratives are currently manifest in the hysteria eruption over “natural climate change”.
Further note: Its the story that matters:
Varied scientists have bemoaned the fact that detailed scientific evidence, critical as it is, does not change the minds of those trapped in doom narratives. This is because there are subconscious factors involved- i.e. deeply embedded themes and impulses that intuitively orient people to embrace apocalyptic doom narratives. Those deeply embedded mythical themes, primitive ideas, still dominate the world religions and are widely embraced in the “secular” ideologies of today, and even in science.
Here is a partial list of archetypical themes of apocalyptic-like narratives (see full lists below- “Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives”)
(1) There was a better past but (2) corrupt people (i.e. fallen humanity, original sin) ruined the original paradise world. (3) Life is now declining toward something worse, toward collapse and ending/apocalypse. Hence, (4) the need for salvation and redemption and (5) the obligation to purge the evil threat to life in order to save the world. Then (6) paradise can be restored. (7) Dualism is also a prominent feature of doom narratives and that feature incites the tribal impulse in people. People are called to courageously fight for their tribe in a “righteous battle” against their “evil” enemies.
I have noted elsewhere on this site, that scientific detail does not move many people because most people live by story and story themes. Hence, the need for a counter narrative/story to the doom narrative. A story with an authentic hero’s journey and quest. A story that offers something to conquer and make right. Something to engage the human spirit and its dreaming impulse, its imagination, and its desires for heroic conquest. But a story based on empirical reality, affirmed with good evidence on the true state of life.
The doom narrative abuses the human spirit and distorts the basic features of human story by appeal to the dark side with threat and fear. Yes, it also offers a righteous battle and salvation scheme but it is tribally-oriented righteousness framed by the base feature of primitive dualism.
The key differences between doom and hope narratives have to do with features like the evaluation of humanity. In doom narratives people are considered essentially corrupt/evil and deserving of punishment. Consequently, humanity is threatened with destruction/apocalypse- with the ending of life in disaster. Doom narratives are stories of nihilist meaninglessness.
The hope narrative affirms humanity as fundamentally good, not deserving punishment, but instead, deserving of the generous bounty of this world. And the heroic struggle of humanity (the righteous battle) is to make this imperfect world something better, to contribute something to make life more beautiful. That is the true “salvation” of our world. Humanity’s true quest is to conquer problems/imperfections and take life into an open and infinitely better future. The authentic hero’s journey is making some unique personal contribution to this overall human quest of improving life. And the best evidence affirms that we are doing this successfully.
Decline or rise: What is the actual trajectory of life on Earth? (Getting the true narrative of life right) Wendell Krossa
For most of human history, including today, the human understanding of life of Earth has been dominated by the myth of decline- that life has degenerated from an original golden age and has become worse and will eventually end in disaster, apocalypse.
The common belief in life becoming worse and ending in apocalypse was already present in the earliest human writing/mythology- i.e. Sumerian Flood myth, Egyptian myths of The Destruction of Mankind and Return to Chaos, the great Hindu cycles of rise and then decline to disastrous ending, and even Buddhist beliefs in the decreasing human life-span (Mircea Eliade in History of Religious Ideas).
Life declining toward disastrous ending was formalized in the theology of the Persian sage Zoroaster/Zarathustra. His apocalyptic religion then structured the core themes of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam with the same declinist perspective.
Christian apocalyptic (i.e. Paul’s apocalyptic Christ myth- Thessalonian letters) eventually shaped 19th Century Declinism and in that belief system we saw primitive mythology transformed into “secular ideology” for the modern world. The same themes of primitive mythologies were given new “secular” expression in an ideology. But at its core Declinism was still the same old profoundly religious belief system as ever before.
Declinism promoted the narrative that once pure and strong people (hunter/gatherers, rural man connected more to nature) had become corrupted and were degenerating in human civilization, notably in industrial/commercial civilization.
Declinism then subsequently shaped Marxism, Nazism, and now shapes environmentalism in projects like climate alarmism with its repetitious apocalyptic scenarios. (Note: The end-of-days never arrives in an ever-improving world so prophets must endlessly reset the end-times dates, usually about 10-15 years in the future.)
Overwhelming evidence affirms that the long-term trajectory of life has been a trend of improvement and life becoming ever better, a story of life and civilization rising toward something ever better. If there is a “bending arc of history” it is not toward the alarmist vision of a worsening world that ends in apocalyptic catastrophe. The arc of history rises toward more improvement over the long-term. And yes, in any long-term trajectory there are downturns and setbacks along the way but it is the direction of the overall long-term trend that tells us what is the true state of life and where life is heading.
An over-abundance of good evidence affirms the trend of improvement across history. I have repeatedly listed here the best sources of data that support such a hopeful vision of the future- James Payne’s History of Force, Stephen Pinker’s Better Angels of Our Nature, Julian Simon’s Ultimate Resource, Greg Easterbrook’s A Moment On The Earth, Bjorn Lomborg’s Skeptical Environmentalist, Ronald Bailey’s The End of Doom, Indur Goklany’s The Improving State of the World, Matt Ridley’s Rational Optimist, Desrochers and Szurmak’s Population Bombed, Hans Rosling’s Factfulness, Bailey and Tupy’s Ten Global Trends, and others.
Further comment on the mythology/ideology of Declinism Wendell Krossa
I mention Declinism regularly here because it is a dominant theme in the worldviews of many people (see YouGov survey noting that a majority of the world population believe “the world is getting worse”, in Ten Global Trends by Tupy and Bailey).
A main element in Declinism is the belief in the inevitable decline of humanity from an original power and purity in pre-civilization existence to decadence, weakness, and degeneration in modern civilization. Declinism also affirms the inevitable decline of human civilization and the decline of life overall, i.e. the ultimate ascendancy of the Second Law/entropy.
Others raise the contrary point that life has emerged and become more complex and advanced against the fact of entropy. Physicists Huber and Mills (Bottomless Well) argue that the use and dissipation of energy is “virtuous” and necessary for creating more order, and higher forms of order.
Many continue to embrace Declinism as the dominant/defining feature of reality despite overwhelming evidence of ongoing improvement, over the long-term, in all the main features and trends of life. See, for example, the varied studies at Humanprogress.org. Also the research of Simon, Lomborg, Bailey, Goklany, Desrochers and Szurmak, and many others.
If you want to understand why so many still believe that things are getting worse when life overall is improving, then check out Arthur Herman’s “The Idea of Decline in Western History”. Herman details the historical development of the 19th Century Declinist narrative that humanity degenerates in industrial civilization, that humanity degenerates from a previous noble state where people had a strong connection with nature in more rural societies. Declinist ideology states that people have become weakened and corrupted by the good life in the modern world. Declinism claims that civilization overall declines toward some disastrous ending.
Giving in to my “reverse engineering” impulse, I ask myself- Where do these declinist ideas come from? They have long dominated world religions like Christianity which still perpetuates myths of an original paradise where pure humans (Adam, Eve) were untainted by sin or death. A subsequent “Fall” ruined the original paradise and sent life declining toward eventual collapse and ending in the apocalypse of Revelation. These Declinism ideas trace even further back to the Persian narrative of life degenerating toward disastrous ending in Zoroastrian apocalypse. And the very same proto-Declinist ideas are found in the earlier mythologies of Sumeria, Egypt, and other ancient cultures.
It is irresponsible to continue to deny factual evidence and propagate these primitive declinist ideas when we have overwhelming evidence of ongoing improvement on all the main features of life. Note, for example, the improvement in the decline of violence across human history (James Payne- History of Force, Stephen Pinker- Better Angels of Our Nature). And note particularly the almost-exponential uptick in the human condition over past centuries as infant mortality has undergone a striking decline, human lifespans and health continue to improve, poverty continues to decline and most people across the planet are now joining the middle class, modern technology brings relief from hard labor and numerous other comforts and securities to life, deaths from natural disasters have declined 96% over the past century, and there is environmental improvement across the main resources of our world. The list of improving features of life is long and soundly hope-affirming.
Conclusion: The long-term trajectory of life is not declining toward something worse but is rising toward something ever better. The actual “decline” is that bad things in life (i.e. disease, violence, physical hardship and suffering) are falling off trending charts while good things are experiencing rising trend lines. Again, see sources like Humanprogress.org.
Herman, though it was not his stated intention, has shown how primitive mythology was transformed into modern “secular” ideology in Declinism. Despite that project to give Declinism intellectual respectability, Declinism ideology is merely repeating the same old themes of primitive apocalyptic mythology. Declinism misrepresents the true state of life entirely.
We never solve the alarmism curse while the main world belief systems continue to promote the basic themes of Declinism and perpetuate those in public consciousness.
Modern Declinism is a profoundly religious system at core, perpetuating the most primitive of mythical themes, despite its use of contemporary secular and scientific terminology.
Now a revised reposting…
Note on comments just below: My own positions are scattered across the political/social spectrum- Classic Liberal on economic issues, Classic liberal on social issues- liberal as in sort of “Libertarianish” but not dogmatically affiliated with any particular ideological position.
Many of us grew up favorably associating “liberal” with tolerance, inclusiveness, empathy, and generally human compassion. But a great inversion has occurred today. Liberal has become more associated with intolerance, tribal exclusion, contempt of disagreeing others, hyper-sensitive outrage over differences, quickness to condemn, mercilessness in trying to punish and destroy “enemies” for perceived failures, and even exhibiting outright hysterical hatred and vilification of opponents. While both sides of our societies (Right and Left) exhibit these embarrassing behaviors at times, the liberal side appears to be dominating public displays of such bad behavior today as it controls mainstream media, Hollywood (public story-telling forums), university campuses, the climate debate, and more.
A great transmutation of modern Liberalism has occurred that has left many of us wondering what the fuck happened? And more generally, what happened to common human decency, to forgiveness and generosity of spirit that understands and accepts human imperfection on all sides, and patiently offers second, third, or more chances for others to learn, grow, gradually become better, and mature? We all want to be treated with such compassion and should exhibit the same generosity toward others.
Nelson Mandela taught us some priceless lessons in this regard, that forgiveness and love toward opponents/enemies “brings out the best in others and turns enemies into friends”. It is the proven route to peace and stability in society.
The centralizing of power and control in governing elites is always dangerous as it unleashes the ever-present busy-body impulse to meddle in other’s lives, to coerce others with state law/force, denying them the freedom for self-governance, for self-determination, and freedom of choice. Remember, self-control, as in free personal choice, is vital to human well-being. Independence feeds the creative urge to improve oneself and one’s family and to benefit from the personal growth and maturing that brings. Encouraging this freedom in populations lifts entire societies, as we have seen in the outcomes of the spread of democratic freedom/free markets across the world over past centuries. We saw the opposite in societies that opted for highly centralized control of their citizens.
Free individuals working hard and gaining reward is not mainly about greed and selfishness as in the distorting narrative of collectivist ideology. The track record of humanity shows that free people, out of common human goodness, also freely choose to cooperate and contribute to greater good. We see this, for example, in the widely accepted ‘social contract’ where most citizens accept that some income should be taxed to contribute to common or shared goods like infrastructure. Unfortunately, central control types try to push this agreed sharing too far with excessive taxation and regulation- what we know as the meddling control by authoritarian bureaucrats and governing elites.
(Note: Greed exists in all political/social systems but interesting that many of the worst outbreaks occurred in central control systems where freedom to criticize, expose, and challenge the selfishness/greed of governing elites was banned.)
Why do collectivists or central-control types (one and the same) push for more government control of other’s lives?
Collectivists struggle to acknowledge the fundamental benefit of individual freedom to human society. They have difficulty accepting too much individual freedom because they have long framed the orientation to individualism in terms of “selfishness/greed”. Further, they do not trust average people to choose or do the right thing (the anti-human view of most people as “fallen, corrupt, inherently sinful”). Collectivists claim that too much individual freedom subjects people to the temptation to greed (i.e. seeking too much personal gain- “too much” in the estimation of the “small is beautiful” narrative of the collectivist).
Hence, collectivists frame socialist central control as a battle of “greater good versus selfish, greedy individualism”. This distorts entirely the true state of things. But it gives the collectivist a sense of moral superiority over opponents, the sense they are on the right side of a righteous battle against an “evil” that is threatening societies. Framed as a battle of good versus evil, Marxist/socialist approaches maintain ongoing appeal despite their persistent track record of dismal failure, of ruining greater good in societies, along with the environmental ruin that results from central planning of resource use.
This simple-minded narrative of a “good versus evil struggle” distorts reality in human societies.
Collectivists ignore one of the main failures of their approach- that centralized control of societies has inevitably unleashed the darker impulses of totalitarianism. Fortunately, over the past few centuries we have learned to counter totalitarianism by decentralizing power/control among competing persons/entities (the checks and balances of separated and distributed power/control). We further counter totalitarianism by affirming the ideal that those in positions of power must “serve the people” (common citizens being the true locus of authority in societies). Government should exist to protect the freedom and rights of citizen from elite domination and control. See Daniel Hannan’s treatment of these issues in “Inventing Freedom”.
The individual freedom approach (protected individual freedom) has been wildly successful in lifting entire societies. It honors the incentive to work and reap reward, to freely create and contribute to life. It has lifted billions out of the misery of poverty. And most people naturally want to contribute to a greater good of all. The best way to do so is by protecting the free choice of individuals to do so voluntarily, not by central state coercion.
Insert note: Research has noted that self-control, in the sense of personal choice on things that impact a person’s life, is critical to human well-being. Israeli studies have shown that those in higher positions in hierarchies, who have more choice, also have higher levels of well-being, while those in lower positions in hierarchies suffer from loss of choice.
Now to the main points…
The anti-liberalism of modern Liberalism, Many in contemporary Liberalism have abandoned Classic liberal principles, Wendell Krossa
Significant elements of modern Liberalism, notably in the US and Europe, have mutated to become advocates of highly illiberal crusades. Various public “Lefties” (i.e. people like Bill Burr, Jimmy Dore, Joe Rogan, and others) have acknowledged the contemporary abandonment of Classic Liberalism by groups of people self-identifying as Liberal, or now more commonly as Progressive or Woke.
Notably over the past decade or so, we have watched many in contemporary Liberalism outrightly rejecting the fundamental principles of Classic Liberalism- i.e. principles/practices like inclusion, tolerance, equality, and freedom for diversity of opinion and speech.
Most disconcerting in Liberalism (e.g. notably in North America) is the continuing eruption of an unapologetically authoritarian spirit, leaning totalitarian at times. The Liberal sector of society now openly censors and silences dissent and disagreement via social media platforms. For decades we have watched this crusade against freedom to question or dissent in the climate debate. We are now also witnessing this anti-freedom crusade promoted by public Liberals in politics, mainstream media/social media, and entertainment, who frequently engage in calls to de-platform, silence, ban, and cancel their opponents. One common stratagem employed by social media companies is to discredit those they disagree with as dangerous advocates of “misinformation”.
Significant segments of contemporary Liberalism appear to have been deluded by the moral superiority appeals of a resurging collectivism (“climate justice… social justice… equality… save the world”). Liberals have been agitating for more central control through state law and state coercion and that shows a disconcerting affiliation for classic collectivism/Marxism, where the state/government is venerated as the representative of the greater or common good (Hegel’s state as deity and “true freedom” as subjection to the state). Collectivist central control is then located in the state as the enforcer of elite views, interests, and laws. Consequent to such centralized control of populations, there is no longer toleration of inclusive diversity, equality, and freedom- central ideals of Classic Liberalism.
It used to be conventional wisdom that Liberalism would stand above all for tolerance. But increasingly, many Liberals openly exhibit an easily offended and enraged intolerance, breaking hysterical at times, toward differing others. We see these disturbing features in movements like Wokism, Progressivism in general, and in environmental alarmism.
Add here the strengthening dualist and tribal elements in the worldview of modern Liberals that seeks to exclude and discredit the differing other as criminal and intolerably dangerous to public good. Remember that President Obama’s AG, Loretta Lynch, tried to criminalize skeptical science that contradicted, with sound evidence, the “manmade climate catastrophe” narrative of Liberals.
Contemporary Liberalism has forgotten basic Classic Liberal precepts like “I may be offended by what you believe and say but I will protect, to the death, your right to believe and say what you choose”. Such tolerance understood that protecting the diverse/different other would also ensure the protection of one’s own freedom if and when the other side attained governing power.
The collectivist strain emerging in modern Liberalism repeatedly argues that individual freedom and rights must be subjected to the concerns of the larger group, the “greater or common good”. The greater good must take precedence over individual freedom and rights. This was the central error of Marxist collectivism that resulted in the mass-death movements of last century (100 million deaths).
Individual freedom is the foundational issue at play here. We best counter the dangerous collectivist centralizing of power, and the inevitable unleashing of the totalitarian impulse that accompanies centralized societal control, by dispersing power among diverse and competing individuals/entities.
Collectivism centralizes power under the control of “enlightened vanguards”, based on the collectivist principle that some elite has to define and run the collective or greater good for all others (i.e. for the good of the masses- the “intolerables”- that are too ignorant to know what is best for them). Who said that the most dangerous people are those who believe they know what is best for all others and will coerce others to embrace their elite-defined “good”.
The counter approach, oriented to protecting the freedom and rights of individuals, was a foundational principle from Magna Carta on down- that all members of a society would be assured equal rights, responsibilities, protections, and freedoms under law. Again, see Daniel Hannan’s great history of the development of the individual freedom approach (“Inventing Freedom”). Also, Arthur Herman’s treatment of the history of the two main approaches to organizing human societies (the free individual versus collectivism approaches) in “The Cave and the Light”.
We ought to be careful of embracing ideological positions that permit us to meddle in and control others, taking away their freedom and self-determination. Controlling types dismiss freedom by claiming that their “enemies” pose a dangerous threat to the greater whole (i.e. imminent threat of catastrophic harm) hence they must be constrained and stopped by state force in order to save a greater good. Climate apocalypse narratives push this story line. They claim their activism is a righteous battle against evil and vital to “save the world”. They imagine they are on a heroic quest of utmost importance and can brook no dissent as the stakes are the very future of life on Earth. They are crusaders against what they claim is the inevitable and looming apocalypse. Convincing themselves with this false narrative they have locked themselves into inescapably harmful solutions as the only way to “save the world”. Additionally, they repeatedly set dates for the “end-of-days” because it endlessly recedes away into the future as real life denies their apocalyptic vision and continues to improve over the long term.
End notes: David Boaz (Libertarianism) pointed out that both sides in the US situation fail on the issue of respecting the freedom of differing others. Boaz said that Republicans need to embrace more freedom regarding social issues (i.e. gay rights, women’s freedom of choice, ending the drug war) and Democrats need to embrace more freedom in relation to economic issues (i.e. less taxation and redistribution of other’s income, less regulation of other’s businesses). His comments also apply to other countries as the same Liberal/Conservative divide is common today.
Further note: Conservatives feel they must meddle in and control the lives of others for a “greater good”. This busy-body impulse is based on the religious belief that if some in a society “sin” then God will punish all members of that society. So, to “save the nation” they must prevent others from “sinning”, as necessary to protect themselves also.
Liberals also feel they must meddle in and control the lives of others for a greater good. They base this need for meddling intervention on their myth of looming apocalypse from climate change, that all will die if they do not stop others from using fossil fuels.
“The whole aim of practical politics (and news media) is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.” ― H.L. Mencken, In Defense Of Women
The climate alarm movement is the latest in an endless history of apocalyptic alarmism movements. Many of these movements were previously religiously-oriented but today they are often “secular/ideological” in orientation, as in environmental alarmism crusades. However, the same core themes- primitive mythical themes- dominate both versions of apocalyptic movements.
“… most people pay little attention to the study of history and the result is the ‘fallacy of presentism’: the tendency to assume that events of the present are larger, more important, or more shocking than events of the past”, James Payne in ‘A History of Force’.
The fallacy of “Presentism” in relation to climate: The belief that some extreme weather event or natural disaster is the worst ever because we experienced it firsthand. The larger context is critical for properly understanding weather events, natural disasters, and climate in general.
Section comments: Nagging the public to believe (i.e. climate change is real but not manmade or catastrophic); Big picture perspective (our present Earth is much colder than normal with much lower levels of CO2 than were normal for most of past history); Decline or Rise- the actual trajectory of life; Comment on the ideology of Declinism (the belief that the world is getting worse when all the main indicators show improvement); Hold a fundamental belief; The tragedy of being carried away by “crowd madness”; Themes and features of alarmism movements; The anti-liberalism of modern Liberalism (abandoning Classic Liberal principles): A counter narrative to the fallacy of too many people, too few resources; The true state of life on Earth; Stop the irrational, irresponsible panic-mongering; and more.
Consequences of persistent despair narratives, Wendell Krossa
“Pessimism turns to fatalism and the only option is resignation and withdrawal”, Arthur Herman in ‘The Idea of Decline in Western History’. Propagandized pessimism incites spreading hopelessness in populations. World surveys tell us that majorities of populations now believe “the world is getting worse”. And note the correlated trend of young couples refusing to have children in a world they believe will soon end. Or children suffering “eco-anxiety” and afraid they will die before reaching adulthood (so why attend school).
But worse than resignation and withdrawal is the potential of apocalyptic despair narratives to push populations toward a “self-fulfilling prophecy” situation where alarmed people are increasingly susceptible to alarmist salvation schemes. Schemes intended to overturn industrial civilization, entirely. Freedom will be the collateral damage of these schemes because Green policies, in their extremist versions, demand all-encompassing change and control of lives. Add the disturbing trends to silence, ban, and even criminalize skeptics to Green hysteria. Example: Obama’s AG, Loretta Lynch, tried to criminalize skeptical climate science in 2016.
Further essential to the Green revolution is the growing demand for “instantaneous transformation” of society because the apocalyptic prophets claim the end-of-days is imminent, just years up ahead. There is no time to waste, according to the prophets, and objectors with their demands for open debate and democratic processes are endangering all life. They are “murderous” deniers, unbelievers of the despair narrative. Hence, the great Green transformation will require “coercive purging”, via state force, in order to “save the world” from the purported threat to life- i.e. greedy consumers in an industrial society based on fossil fuels.
Remember, these totalitarian apocalyptic approaches were tried last century and what was the outcome? We had the mass-death movements of Marxism (100 million deaths from the crusade against the “capitalist threat”) and Nazism (50-60 million deaths from the crusade against the “Jewish Bolshevik threat”). Environmental alarmism has now taken up the formerly Marxist crusade to overturn industrial civilization, with despair narratives no different from the other unhinged apocalyptic crusades of past history. (Note: The above comments are not my conclusions alone. Data sources from many credible researchers are noted in articles and sections below.)
Prophets without shame, Wendell Krossa
Apocalyptic prophets have been prophesying the end-of-days at a fevered level for the past 70 years. Notable among the sandwich-board crowd is Paul Ehrlich who claimed in the 70s that the end was nigh for varied reasons- global cooling, mass starvation, exhausted resources. He set dates for the end around 1980. But nope. The end did not arrive because life, to the contrary, generally improved. So he, and related prophets, reset the date for the apocalypse another decade or so out. And nope again. Life and the world did not end then. So they repeated the fraud of apocalyptic mythology and reset the end of days again. And again. These prophets usually claim an end-times date about 10-15 years up ahead. The latest date for the end-of-days is 2030. John Kerry has become one of the main voices of this “final tipping point” mythology.
What drives this endless re-setting of the end-of-days? The apocalyptic mind denies the evidence that life overall continues to improve. Apocalyptic scenarios are irrational, irresponsible, unscientific lunacy. Is that too harsh a conclusion?
Many fundamental indicators of the true state of life show that we are living through the best of times in world history (see, for example, ‘Humanprogress.org’). And the future will be much better. The end-of-days scenarios pumped out repeatedly by apocalyptic prophets under the guise of science are fraudulent distortions of life. See sources in articles below.
Articles on this site probe the mindset of the many people that continue to embrace the insanity that is apocalyptic mythology. It has to do with themes/ideas that have long dominated human worldviews, whether in religious versions or “secular/ideological/scientific” versions. This is deeply embedded ‘subconscious’ stuff.
The true state of life on Earth (a revised reposting) Wendell Krossa
While problems exist everywhere, they are solvable and humanity has done well in caring for and preserving world resources. For detailed research on the true status of world resources see Julian Simon’s ‘Ultimate Resource’, Bjorn Lomborg’s ‘Skeptical Environmentalist’, or ‘Population Bombed’ by Szurmak and Desrochers, among many similar studies. Below are some basic facts on the main resources of our world. They are the main indicators of the true state of life on our planet. They all show that life is not declining toward something worse. There is no looming environmental apocalypse.
Leading indicators for evaluating the true state of life:
(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. We are not destroying the world’s forests. http://www.fao.org/forestry/fra/52045/en/
(2) Proven species extinctions. While any species extinction is unacceptable, we have dramatically improved our care of nature. Species extinctions are on a notably declining trend line and have decreased from about 5 per year in 1870 to about 0.5 per year today (see the IUCN Red List All Extinct Species by Decade on p.101 of Patrick Moore’s new book ‘Fake Invisible Catastrophes And Threats of Doom’). While nature has destroyed over 95% of all species over the span of life on this planet, compassionate humanity is now protecting species as never before.
See Julian Simon’s chapter on the IUCN report on species loss (in Ultimate Resource and other books) and the discredited assumption/correlation between habitat loss and species extinctions. The wrong assumption was that with habitat loss of 90% some 50% of species would go extinct. Both the Northeastern US and Northeastern Brazil study areas disproved that assumption. The assumption did not understand the resiliency, adaptability, and toughness of life. There is no species holocaust occurring. Nature is not “fragile”.
(3) Climate change (the atmosphere as a main 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. We are in an “ice-age era”. Average surface temperatures today are around 15 degrees Centigrade. That is 5-10 degrees Centigrade below the more optimal average surface temperatures of the past 500 million years. For over 90% of the past 500 million years there was no ice at the poles. That is a more normal and optimal world. 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” looming.
Also, most of our Holocene inter-glacial, that began around 11,000 years ago, has been warmer than today. The Holocene Climatic Optimum (roughly 10-5,000 years ago) was about 1 degree C. warmer. The Roman Warm Period (250 BCE to 400 CE) and the Medieval Warm Period (950- 1,250 CE)- were also warmer than today. Life overall and human civilization have flourished during such warming periods. From about 5,000 years ago our interglacial began a long-term cooling trend (the “Neoglacial” period). Our current Modern Warm period is the coolest of the four warm periods of our interglacial.
We are also in a “CO2 starvation era” where CO2 has declined to its lowest levels compared to most of past history. 20,000 years ago CO2 declined to 185 ppm, barely above the level at which all plant life dies (150 ppm). We have experienced a mild increase in atmospheric CO2 levels to 400-plus ppm today but are still far below long-term historical averages (multiple-thousands of ppm) when life flourished with much more of its basic plant food.
(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. The world fisheries are not being decimated though various species are over-fished and need more protection/better management. Wild fish consumption has peaked over past decades and aquaculture has been growing rapidly to meet the growing demand for fish. https://www.washington.edu/news/2020/01/13/fisheries-management-is-actually-working-global-analysis-shows/
(5) The overall agricultural 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 several hundred million acres of agricultural land 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.
Thanks also to increasing levels of basic plant food in the atmosphere (i.e. CO2) there has been a 30% increase in green vegetation across the Earth over the past century. This aerial CO2 also contributes to remarkable increases in crop production (see CO2science.org). Humanity now produces 25% more food than we need. Hydroponics will also meet much of future food demands.
These, and other indicators, show that the overall long-term trajectory of life is improving, not worsening.
A note to our children: Do not fear the future of life on our planet. With continued wealth creation 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. Do not let false alarmism narratives rob you of hope.
Other indicators of the state of life
These are some of the most important things in life and they tell us where life is heading. This is not to deny that serious problems remain in many areas of life, but to re-assure with hope that people are working to find solutions and our track record affirms that we have done well in solving problems and vastly improving life for most people. The best is yet to come.
Infant mortality rates
In 1800 one third of children (33%) died before reaching 5 years of age. The global rate today is 4.5% and much lower (well below 1%) in most of the more developed countries.
Human life span
In the pre-industrial era the average life expectancy was about 30 years. Today the world average is over 70 years and higher in many countries. See sources like Ourworldindata.org.
Over the past century major diseases have been conquered, others turned into long-term maladies. The current pandemic appears to have been caused by human action against better advice (i.e. continuing gain of function research despite a ban, and substandard lab safety measures). Hopefully, this outbreak will result in more pro-active vaccine research and other preventative measures that will lessen the chance of future similar outbreaks.
Decline in poverty
Poverty has declined rapidly over past decades and much of the world’s population is entering middle-class status. There is no reason this trend will not continue.
Human comfort and well-being
Ongoing technological advances have made human existence much less punishing with breakthroughs in transportation, communication, and general human comfort. Workplace safety has increased significantly.
Plant and animal life
With more basic plant food in the atmosphere (CO2) plant life has flourished with a 30% increase in green vegetation on Earth over the past century. Animals have benefitted with more food and humanity has benefitted with increased crop production from aerial fertilization. Also, GM crop breakthroughs have resulted in crop records being broken annually with more breakthroughs to come. We now produce significantly more food than humanity needs. And a warming climate (in an abnormally cold world) will further benefit animal and plant life with extended habitats.
Further, extinctions are at all time lows.
Committed pessimists ignore the many improvements to life and focus obsessively on remaining problems without locating them within the larger overall context of improving life. Alarmist types tend to exaggerate problems out to apocalyptic scale thereby distorting the overall big picture and long-term trajectory of life.
Beating a mantra into public consciousness Wendell Krossa
We hear the repeated mantra in news media today that hot days or heat waves are the “hottest on record”. The alarmist mantra of “hottest on record” refers only to the formal record of the last 150 years. That brief snippet pulled out of the larger climate history permits alarmist distortion of the true state of climate. The hottest days and years of the last 150 years were actually during the 1930s (https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/07/15/the-deadly-heat-wave-of-july-1936-in-the-middle-of-arguably-the-hottest-decade-on-record-for-the-us/). But that hotter period was before CO2 could be blamed for climate change so it is ignored as it doesn’t suit the larger narrative point that climate alarmists are trying to make.
Why do we hear this particular mantra of “hottest on record” repeated endlessly by news media, politicians, and celebrities? Why are today’s hot days and heat waves not placed within the larger climate history to give the public a proper perspective on things?
The exaggerated slogan of heat threat (along with other extreme weather events) is repeated to affirm a larger background narrative- that climate is warming dangerously and will become catastrophic if it warms past another 1.5-2.0 degrees C. Further to the narrative, “hottest on record” affirms that any warming is evidence of a human-caused “existential crisis” (“manmade” climate change) because we are burning too much fossil fuel and causing atmospheric CO2 levels to rise. And the only permissible response, according to climate authoritarians, must be the immediate and radical decarbonization of our societies and a massive shift to renewables. This salvation scheme (to “save the world”) is already causing immense harm to the poorest people with rising energy costs.
This environmental apocalypse story of looming climate crisis (one of an endless series of environmental alarms over the past 70 years) is part of an even larger background political narrative that is anti-industrial civilization, anti-capitalism, and fundamentally anti-human. (See, for example, “Hubris: The troubling science, economics, and politics of climate change” by Michael Hart.)
This site challenges the narrative of looming disaster caused by humanity using fossil fuels. While there are elements of truth in the mix- i.e. that it is warming and CO2 contributes to the warming- good evidence from the best climate scientists on the planet does not support the alarmist exaggeration that we are mostly responsible for rising CO2 levels, or that CO2 is mainly responsible for climate warming, or that the warming will become catastrophic. As noted often before on this site, there is no climate crisis and there is no scientifically sound reason to tax carbon or decarbonize our societies.
Nagging the public, Wendell Krossa
Politicians continue to bully the public to “believe in climate change”. “Its real”, they shout, and “we have to tackle it”. We have to act. Now.
Well yes, of course climate change is real. Unending change has always been the normal state of climate. There is no such thing as unchanging climate because climate is a complex, dynamic, and chaotic system and it is impossible for climate to be in stasis or to be static. It cannot but change.
So we all “know” that climate changes. It’s an established fact of our world. And yes, of course, when alarmist politicians argue for us to “believe” in climate change, they really mean believe their narrative of “manmade climate change” with the consequent alarmist mandate to cease using fossil fuels and shift immediately and entirely to renewables- i.e. decarbonization. We get this meaning behind their badgering.
And tackle climate change? If you mean mitigate, as in decarbonization, then you are engaging a King Canute-like project because we do not yet even understand all that influences climate. It is certain that CO2 is not the sole driver, not even the main driver of climate change. Good scientific research shows that CO2 is “a bit player” in a complex of factors influencing climate to change. The dominant players are factors like water vapor and that is part of a larger complex that includes the influence of cosmic rays increasing cloud cover, the sun interacting with cosmic rays to reduce cloud cover, and much more.
Add to the mix of climate change factors the significant influence of multi-decadal oscillations in ocean currents.
Certainly, we can experiment with alternatives to fossil fuels (renewables) to lower emissions but there is no “existential crisis” obligating us to do so. Because there is no evidence that the climate change that we have experienced over past decades is becoming “catastrophic”. That claim is unscientific alarmist nonsense. Pure apocalyptic exaggeration. And it irresponsibly alarms the public.
And act ‘now’? Well yes, just as humanity has reacted and acted in response to changing climate all across history. Adapting to climate change.
So enough already with the endless setting of dates for the end-of-days, terrorizing people with a false urgency based on a mild and beneficial one degree of warming over the past century. That mild warming has rescued us from the bitter pre-industrial cold of the Little Ice Age (1450-1850). We need still more warming and that will benefit life even more.
Challenging the alarm narrative, Wendell Krossa
Where is the promotion of basic science with its healthy skepticism, questioning, inclusion of contrary evidence, debate, and balancing falsification? (This comment is aimed mainly at politicians)
It is interesting to watch across the spectrum (Left to Right) politicians unquestioningly affirming the main unproven assumptions of the climate alarm movement. Those assumptions are not “settled, consensus science” by any respectable empirical measure. They are assumptions/exaggerations that have more to do with apocalyptic mythology than climate science.
Two prominent unproven assumptions:
(1) That CO2 is mainly responsible for warming climate. This assumption ignores or dismisses the varied other natural factors that show much stronger correlations to the climate change that we have seen over past decades. Note, for example, the cosmic ray/sun/cloud interaction (See Henrik Svensmark’s ‘The Chilling Stars’), or the multi-decadal oscillations/shifts in ocean currents from cooling to warming phases, among others. These natural factors overwhelm the CO2 influence on climate.
(2) That warming will be “catastrophic” if it rises and passes another 1.5-2.0 degrees C.
First, we have had only a 1 degree C warming over the past century and that is part of the natural recovery from the earlier descent into the bitter cold of the Little Ice Age of AD 1450-1850. Who in their right mind would want to return to the pre-industrial cold and dangerously low levels of CO2?
Scenarios of another 3-6 degrees C. warming are based on discredited computer models. More to the point, a few degrees more warming would not be catastrophic but would be a return to the more normal, optimal averages of most of past history when all life flourished with much warmer average temperatures (i.e. 20 degrees Centigrade-plus, versus the average 15 degrees C of today’s world). A much warmer world means extended habitats for life (i.e. no ice at the poles as was the state of the world for over 90% of world history), longer growing seasons, less severe gradients between the warm and cold areas that produce more severe storms, and more evaporation which means less drought, and more.
Add here that more basic plant food in the atmosphere- CO2- has resulted in a much greener world (a 15% increase in green vegetation since 1980) along with record crop production over recent years. All life is benefitting from more CO2 and more warmth. It is irrational madness to claim that more warming will devastate life when past history shows a much warmer world benefitted life immensely.
Remember also that the past warm periods of our interglacial (i.e. Holocene Optimum/Minoan, Roman, Medieval) were all warmer than our modern warm period and civilizations and all life flourished during those previous warm periods.
Big picture perspective on the true state of things, Wendell Krossa
Why the contemporary hysteria over ice melting at the North Pole, Greenland, and varied glacial regions? For over 90% of our planet’s history the Earth has been entirely ice-free. That is a more optimal, normal, and healthy state for life. Ongoing discoveries affirm that during those past eras when the polar regions were entirely ice free, diverse warm-climate flora and fauna inhabited both poles (e.g. the stumps of tropical trees have been discovered in the Arctic, along with the remains of camels and other warm-region flora and fauna). That means all life experienced vastly expanded habitats during those times. A good thing.
Note that the highest diversity of species today, both ocean and land species, are found in the tropical areas of Earth. Most life prefers warmth. Most people also prefer much more warmth and prove that by vacationing or migrating to live in the warmer areas of Earth.
More warming does not mean there will be catastrophic harm to life as already warm areas do not necessarily become hotter. More warmth is distributed, via ocean and atmospheric convection currents, to the colder regions of Earth (polar regions), to the colder seasons (winter), and to colder times of day (nighttime). Climate warming spreads to the entire world with beneficial outcomes for all life, not “catastrophe”.
Today we are still far below the much warmer average temperatures of most past history. Average temperatures across much of the history of life were up to 5-10 degrees C higher than today’s average of about 15 degrees C. And life thrived in that much warmer world. Again, there was no “climate catastrophe”.
Further, the previous three inter-glacial periods were all warmer than our current Holocene interglacial (i.e. Purfleet: 337-300,000 years ago, La Bouchet: 242-230,000 years ago, Eemian: 130-115,000 years ago).
What about our interglacial- the Holocene- now 11,000 years long? Over the past 5000 years we have been in a long-term cooling trend. Our current Modern Warm Period is the coolest of the five major warm periods of our interglacial. The previous warmer periods were the Holocene Optimum, Minoan, Roman, and Medieval periods. The larger context of our interglacial shows that we are now in a cooling trend and that ought to be our real concern as cooling climate means more droughts, more extinctions, and more human suffering.
It is irrational to be worried about melting ice and a few more degrees of average warmth when, in net terms, the benefits to all life from more warming far outweigh any negatives. Cooling is a far greater threat to life. We should value all further warming that we might get at this time in world history.
So again, why this endless media hysteria over melting ice in varied places of our world? Some species may suffer but many more others will benefit from warmer temperatures and an ice-free planet. Others have noted that polar bears have survived the much warmer past interglacial periods (i.e. complete melts of Arctic ice). The Eemian (130-115,000 years ago) was 2-4 degrees C warmer than today, so also the other previous interglacials.
End notes: Summer Arctic melting has benefitted polar bears immensely. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/09/15/still-waiting-for-two-thirds-of-polar-bears-worldwide-to-disappear-due-to-lack-of-summer-sea-ice/
Melting ice and sea level rise: It is natural for climate to warm and the ice of glacial periods to melt during interglacials and hence for sea levels to rise. Oceans have risen a total of 120 meters since our Holocene Interglacial began some 11,000 years ago. Oceans continue to rise at the slow rate of about 1.5-3.0 mm per year. Despite this mild rise, the total surface area of Pacific ocean islands has increased and not decreased. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/08/31/new-study-62-km%c2%b2-6-net-expansion-in-100s-of-pacific-indian-ocean-island-shorelines-from-2000-2017/
Another: Heat events and wildfires are not worsening today. Wildfires have declined notably over the past century and extreme heat events are “weather events”, not necessarily related to larger climate patterns. There are many diverse factors contributing to local heat waves. See Wattsupwiththat.com for regular climate updates, also GWPF (Global Warming Policy Forum).
The tragedy of being carried away by “crowd madness”, Wendell Krossa
A sense of tragedy is evoked when the natural human desire to fight a heroic and righteous battle against some evil is misdirected into alarmist movements that ultimately cause harm to others. And yes, a generous view of this would grant that the harm is the result of unintended consequences from otherwise well-intentioned people. We saw misdirected heroism in the past century battles of Marxism against industrial/capitalist civilization. Today we are watching this misdirected zeal in the nihilist destruction of Antifa rioting. But we see its most dangerous eruptions in environmental crusades like decarbonization. Point? Make sure your monsters are real and the outcomes of your “righteous” cause are benefitting others, not harming them.
Examples: Rachel Carson was undoubtedly a well-intentioned lady. But her fear-mongering based on shoddy science arguably contributed to the subsequent deaths of many people, often children, due to the bans on DDT that were influenced by her alarmism. See THE EXCELLENT POWDER: DDT’s Political and Scientific History by Donald Roberts, Richard Tren.
Greenpeace alarmism over GM crops has also contributed to the unnecessary deaths of millions of children denied Vitamin A in crops like Golden Rice. https://nationalpost.com/opinion/bjorn-lomborg-trashing-rice-killing-children
News bits: As Europe heads into another cold winter it faces threatening consequences due to a lack of affordable energy, skyrocketing energy prices, the failure of Green renewables, and consequent electric grid instability (blackouts). Europeans face the real threat of freezing because they have been wrongly alarmed over a mild warming. Remember, cold is 20 times more life-threatening to humans than warmth.
“Pessimism turns to fatalism and the only option is resignation and withdrawal”, Arthur Herman in The Idea of Decline.
There are menacing forces working against hope and freedom today. The narrative of looming “climate catastrophe” (based largely on discredited computer models) has incited the survival impulse in populations. Fear spawns irrationality in people, making them susceptible to ‘crowd madness’ and the destructive salvation schemes of alarmists. None is more damaging than decarbonization, a salvation scheme (“save the world”) that alarmists are compelling most of the world to embrace. Decarbonization is a project to overturn industrial civilization and push intrusive government control into every aspect of human society and life. It foreshadows a potential intrusion into society and control of life more all-encompassing than any previous totalitarianism in world history.
The tragedy is that the decarbonization project is based on a distorted view of CO2 as the main/sole cause of the modern industrial era warming (1 degree C over the past century), and the unsupported claim that more warming will become “catastrophic”. This apocalyptic-scale exaggeration has reached hysterical levels among populations with the help of crisis-oriented media that thrive on panic-mongering. See David Altheide’s ‘Creating Fear: News and the construction of crisis’.
Sweating the small stuff Wendell Krossa
(Note: This comment is not intended to diminish the horrific suffering from the current pandemic or any other serious problem. It is to understand and counter the tendency to exaggerate problems and panic-monger, so common to the climate alarm movement. Also, it appears that this pandemic was the result of human intervention to pursue “gain of function” research that had been previously banned and to do so in a substandard lab with lax safety protocols. See Josh Rogin’s “Chaos Under Heaven”)
Humanity has largely solved the big threats of the past like mass-deaths from natural disasters. Deaths from natural disasters have decreased by 96% over just the past century. With no great threats to worry over, many today have turned their focus to micro-threats, such as micro-levels of potential poisons, the “invisible” threats. Others counter this worry over micro-threats by pointing to the medical research on “hormesis”, where smaller doses of varied substances are healthy but become poisonous at larger doses (i.e. “the poison is in the dose”).
Some have suggested that this trend to exaggerate the small is a consequence of the fact that people have become increasingly “risk averse”. An entirely risk-free existence is an impossible state to achieve as some level of risk is unavoidably present in an imperfect world. Most people accept varied levels of risk in their daily lives- i.e. while driving, in sickness and death from widely accepted habits like smoking and drinking, in public exposure to communicable diseases (annual deaths from flu, etc.), and in our acceptance of the natural world threats where we live- whether earthquakes, storms, or flooding.
Another possible element in the focus on smaller threats, and magnifying them to catastrophic-level hazards, has to do with the latent human impulse to fight great battles (i.e. the “hero’s journey”). Do some exaggerate otherwise manageable problems to apocalyptic scale in order to meet such felt needs to heroically “save the world”? Or what about the “worry-wort” syndrome. Some people simply cannot accept that humanity has done so well in making life much safer today and will rummage endlessly to find something wrong and worry about. Worry-worts are never satisfied with good news.
Add here psychologist Martin Seligman’s comments that during the past century pessimism became “cool” while optimism was considered shallow.
Is there also in the mix of threat-exaggeration and threat-mongering an element of “imposter syndrome”. We have done well in solving many formerly major problems but we are still uncomfortable with embracing our success, so we continue to conjure up the threats as worse than they really are to affirm the deeply embedded sense that we deserve punishment/harm of some form.
Threat exaggeration is most common today in the climate alarm movement where every anomaly/twitch in nature is used to affirm the narrative of looming “catastrophic climate crisis” as the deserved punishment for humanity enjoying the good life in industrial civilization. Climate alarmists whip up terror and incite panic over every out-of-the-norm event today, events that have been common all across history- i.e. heat waves/wildfires, storms, floods. These common events continue, and are serious concerns, but are often over-exaggerated and misused to affirm the apocalyptic narrative of alarmists today. Apocalypticism gone hysterical.
Good research on extreme weather events show there is no worsening trend. https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/despite-what-youve-heard-global-warming-isnt-making-weather-more-extreme/
Qualifier to comment below on holding a fundamental belief (“No conditions” or “unconditional love”)
Holding “no conditions” as an ultimate ideal (as the primary feature of deity and a the supreme ideal for ethics) does not then correlate directly with denying consequences for behavior in this life. There are natural and social consequences to all human actions and such consequences are vital to human learning, development, and maturing. For example, people unable or unwilling to restrain their worst impulses should be restrained (i.e. incarcerated) till they are able to do so, and if they are not able to control themselves, as in cases of psychopathology, then they must remain imprisoned for the protection and freedom of others.
Law, police, military, and justice/penal systems exist for good reason. But a ‘no conditions’ ideal argues that these institutions must be oriented to restorative, not punitive, justice approaches. Punitive justice does not advance human development and security. See, for example, Karl Menninger’s “The Crime of Punishment”.
Leo Tolstoy: “The whole trouble lies in that people think that there are conditions excluding the necessity of love in their intercourse with man, but such conditions do not exist. Things may be treated without love; one may chop wood, make bricks, forge iron without love, but one can no more deal with people without love than one can handle bees without care.”
Unconditional is the ethical ideal that points us to the safest route through life. Unconditional love as an ideal motivates us to do the least harm to others. Further, unconditional as the defining feature of God counters the long history of people using barbaric theological ideas to inspire, guide, and validate bad behavior toward others. Too many across history have used in humane features of deity to validate inhumanity toward others. Notable features in this regard include deity as tribally exclusive (favoring true believers, excluding/destroying unbelievers), deity as retaliatory, dominating, punitive, and ultimate world destroyer (apocalypse).
Now a bit of theology for any interested: This comment tackles the very core of human fears, (1) the primal fear of divine harm through the natural world- i.e. Forces/spirits harming people via natural disaster, disease, or animal/human predation. Harmful Forces/spirits would include punitive God, vengeful Gaia, angry Planet/Mother Earth, retributive Universe, or karma. And (2) the fear of after-life harm (myths of ultimate divine judgment and hell).
Hold something fundamental Wendell Krossa
We all hold some fundamental belief, something that we know to be true or at least more ‘truthish’ than alternatives. While there may be many things that we speculate on throughout our lives, there are a few things that we hold more tightly because they fulfil some important emotional impulse or need, or they seem more rational/reasonable. Sometimes its just about hope and faith helping us through the too often horrific imperfections of life.
I hold one thing as most true of all- that at the core of reality there is love, a stunning no conditions love. I believe that is where all reality originated. It is where all exists right now (surrounded by, interpenetrated by that love). And all returns safely to that love in the end.
And I hold to a view of our “pre-existence” as the most coherent explanation of all. That we come from the ultimate Oneness/deity that is love. We come into this realm of dualisms in order to have a human experience, to experience imperfection and opposites, to fight some righteous battle against evil, to conquer some monster/problem, to learn lessons from our struggles, and to benefit others by making some contribution to improving life.
I reason to my fundamental belief, using speculation, intuition, assumption, and other “soft” or “subjective” things, not afraid of emotion in the mix also. Because this is what we are as human beings- conscious, intuitive, feeling persons.
I reason, for example, that love is the one thing that most defines us as human. It is our highest ideal and most humane state. Love includes the essential component features of forgiveness, inclusion, toleration, the treatment of all as free equals, the enjoyment of the success of others, and more.
And I understand that the highest form of love that we have discovered is “no conditions” love. Unconditional love. This discovery arises from the daily mundane experience of average, ordinary people. It has not come from theologians or other religious/philosophical specialists.
And then I project this insight regarding unconditional love out to define Ultimate reality or the ultimate Good that humanity has long considered “deity” or the “divine”. Additionally, I understand that an Ultimate reality would get unconditional much better than we do and it would exhibit such love in an infinitely better, transcendently better manner. Love infinitely beyond the love that we know and experience here.
No religion has ever communicated the truth of no conditions love at the core of reality. To the contrary, all religion has always communicated Ultimate reality as a highly conditional reality- i.e. gods demanding right beliefs, required sacrifices/payments, proper religious rituals, correct religious lifestyle, and threatening ultimate judgment and punishment for not meeting religious conditions. Religion has always been about conditions, conditions, and more damn conditions.
This is the great contradiction of religion. Conditional religion has always buried the unconditional reality that is God. Yet religion claims to represent God to humanity. It has failed utterly.
Embracing the view of unconditional love as the core reality then leads me to reject all that is lesser than such love- things like (1) punitive retaliation as a response to human imperfection (contrasted with restorative justice), (2) exclusion of differing others, (3) meddling in the freedom and self-determination of others (control), (4) relating vertically to others (not respecting the equality of others), and so on.
My foundational belief also obliges me to rationally and reasonably reject outright the horrible myths of punitive forces/realities behind nature, or future retribution/payback (i.e. the still all-too-common mythology of future judgment or hell). So yes, I reject most religious beliefs from across history, beliefs that are still prominent in the world religions.
But I do not reject the common and universal intuition of people across history that we are part of some greater reality that is of the nature of Mind, Consciousness, Self, or Intelligence. Where I part with most people has to do with the religious versions of deity that perpetuate primitive ideas of gods as Rulers, Kings, dominating Lords, or Judges that mete out final justice as punishment/reward.
I see my basic belief as pointing to the safest route through life. It provides no incentive to harm others. In fact, viewing all as deserving unconditional treatment is the option that is least likely to incite harm toward others. Again, taking that approach to all others is not inconsistent with maintaining justice as responsibility for your actions here- i.e. natural and social consequences. But all justice ought to be restorative in nature, not punitive.
So unconditional core reality satisfies my meaning impulse and informs all else in life, shaping my positions on many things.
End notes: Regarding the long-held mythology of deity as some form of “sky god”- i.e. up above in some heaven, remote from here and now. I would offer the alternative idea that the reality we call God has, from the beginning, been incarnated in all humanity as something inseparable from the human spirit and consciousness. That intimately present ultimate love expresses itself in individual human stories/lives. The divine reality is closer than our own breath or atoms and this affirms our inseparable oneness with deity.
The love that is God is our most essential self, or most essential nature, as human. Hence, we are never abandoned or alone in our suffering in this world.
Another: The experience of a stunningly inexpressible love at the core of reality is the single most common and important discovery in the Near-Death Experience movement. Such Ultimate reality appears to be entirely non-religious.
Another: This dualistic realm with the features of punitive justice, good versus evil, and even natural consequences, is just temporary a temporary realm for human experience/learning.
Personal conclusion: If ultimate reality is not the “unconditional love” of an absolutely stunning and wondrous nature, and entirely non-religious, then please blink me out of existence altogether. I don’t want to exist in a reality that is less than inexpressible love. Not for a moment. An eternal religious reality (i.e. religious heaven) would be my vision of hell.
Added note: How did we get the gods of world religions that have been handed down to us? Ancient people projected human features out to describe and define ultimate reality. They “anthropomorphized” the Mystery behind physical reality and life. That was the natural response to their impulse for meaning, the primal human urge to understand and explain reality to themselves.
And while doing so, they projected some of the worst features of primitive humanity onto deity. Features like tribal exclusion (favoring insiders/true believers, damning outsiders/unbelievers), domination and subservience (gods as kings, lords- humanity as the servant of deity), and punitive retaliation against enemies (judgment, hell). The ancient human creation of the template for all following deity theories was a very human and very fallible process. There was nothing “divine” about it. Those subhuman/inhuman features continue to define the deities of world religions today. Its way past time to fully humanize deity theories and bring the gods up to date with the features that modern sensibility understands as authentically humane (i.e. inclusion, equality, non-punitive restorative justice, etc.).
Ancient people also deified the experiences of varied people. Moses’ bush and mountain top experiences (receiving the Ten Commandments) became the authoritative truth for Judaism. Paul’s Damascus Road seizure/vision became his gospel of the Christ and the core of Christianity. Muhammad’s cave seizures and visions became the Quran and Islam. The Buddha’s tree experience shaped Buddhism. All were personal experiences of ancient people that informed the doctrines and authoritative scriptures of those religions. Think about that- Billions of subsequent followers across history have looked to someone’s long-ago personal experience as the authoritative revelation of truth and the nature of deity for all time afterward.
My point: Personal experiences today are often much more humane than those of past history when humanity was still in its infancy, and human thought and life was more primitive and barbaric (subhuman). By way of contrast, for example, note the Near-Death Experiences of today that point to a stunning unconditional Love and Light at the core of reality. This is light years more humane than anything from the ancient past.
Unfortunately, because those past experiences were deified, and accompanied with threats of severe punishment for questioning venerated tradition, many are hesitant to rethink what they have inherited. Many fear the religious threats associated with “heresy/blasphemy” and being condemned/excommunicated for “losing one’s faith”. But opening oneself to the stunning alternative of a core no conditions love can be an experience of liberation at a whole new level- liberation of mind and spirit that no religion can offer.
We must limit climate change. Huh!?! Wendell Krossa
There are elements of irrationality, illogic, and even insanity in the public claims that we must limit climate warming to 1.5 degrees C. And that we can do so by limiting human use of fossil fuels and consequent CO2 emissions. The belief behind these claims is that CO2 is the dominant driver of climate change. But there is no conclusive science this is true when other natural factors have shown stronger correlations to the climate change that we have seen and the role of CO2 is regularly overwhelmed by those other natural factors. CO2 is a “bit player” in climate change. You cannot control climate by turning a CO2 knob.
And further, there is no evidence that the very mild warming that we have experienced will become “catastrophic” (i.e. 1 degree C over the past century in a very cold world). We still need more warming and more CO2. Both will benefit life immensely as average world temperatures are still far below optimal levels of most past history, and CO2 levels are also still far below optimal levels of most past history.
Conclusion: There is no rational reason to tax carbon or decarbonize our societies.
“Critics agree with the IPCC that human emissions contribute to climate change but argue that it is difficult to separate out the human influence from natural influences on climate. Critics note that on larger geologic timescales the late 20th Century warming was exceedingly small and not different from natural fluctuations in climate. The issue is how sensitive is climate to the exceedingly small changes in greenhouse gases, notably to the tiny fraction of the atmosphere made of CO2, and its rise from 0.03 to 0.04 percent since the Industrial Revolution. Add the major inconvenient fact that following the strong 1997-98 El Nino (and the 2015-16 El Nino) there has been little further warming.
“Skeptics of the alarmist narrative challenge the exaggerated prophesies of “climate crisis” and the lack of attention paid to natural factors, other than CO2, that show stronger correlations with climate change. Climate alarmism is grounded in discredited computer models that exaggerate the role of CO2 and exaggerate the potential warming far beyond actual observed warming. Climate alarmists have also tried to shut down open scientific debate and demonized their opponents as deniers or shills for big oil.” (Paraphrased from Michael Hart’s comments in Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics, and Politics of Climate Change, p.20-24)
What themes are driving alarmism today? Wendell Krossa
I look at climate alarmism today and I see the same themes that have dominated the larger environmental alarmism movement over the past 70 years. Behind the environmental alarmism movement I detect the themes of the 19th Century ideology of Declinism. And Arthur Herman, in his brilliant history of Declinism (The Idea of Decline in Western History) acknowledges the presence of varied Christian ideas in this ideology- i.e. the myth of “an original paradise that was lost” (Eden) and the need for a “violent purging” of some evil that threatens life (as in the violent purging detailed in the book of Revelation, viewed as necessary before restoring the lost original paradise).
These ideas are part of the larger complex of primitive myths known as the “apocalyptic millennial” complex of themes that have been detailed in the good histories of Richard Landes (Heaven on Earth), Arthur Mendel (Vision and Violence), and David Redles (Hitler’s Millennial Reich). These authors have shown how varied religious ideas shaped the mass-death movements of Marxism and Nazism, and are now influencing environmentalism.
I trace these ideas further back thru history (reverse engineering) and I find the outline of Paul’s apocalyptic Christ myth that brought the apocalyptic millennial complex into Western thinking, deeply embedding apocalyptic mythology in Western consciousness and civilization.
And then I trace those apocalyptic themes back right to their origin in Zoroaster’s apocalyptic theology and then further to the earliest mythologies of Sumeria (Sumerian Flood myth) and Egypt (Destruction of Mankind and Return to Chaos myths).
Joseph Campbell was right- the same core mythical themes have been repeated across all history and across all the cultures of the world. Identify those ideas and you have got to the root of the problem of alarmism- the ideas that feed apocalyptic alarmist hysteria in generation after generation. Apocalyptic millennialism descends down from ancient mythology, to world religions, to the ideology of Declinism, and down to present day alarmism as in the environmental movement, and even to “scientific” versions of alarmism.
Understanding the origin and historical descent of such themes helps to understand the ongoing curse of alarmism- why people still respond to alarmist narratives and exaggerations. Alarmist ideas resonate with deeply embedded themes, perceptions, and impulses. Some call them subconscious archetypes.
It is vital to change the fundamental narrative themes in order to change outcomes in human societies (i.e. to prevent unnecessarily alarmed people from endlessly embracing destructive alarmism salvation schemes like decarbonization).
A new narrative based on real world facts, not primitive mythological themes, is critical to alleviate irrational fear and counter the human tendency to intuitively embrace destructive apocalyptic narrative themes and salvation schemes.
I have summarized the themes/ideas of apocalyptic millennialism in ‘Old Story Themes, New Story Alternatives’, in sections below.
Watching a madness movement in real time, Wendell Krossa
Future generations will look back on the contemporary demonization of CO2 as a “pollutant… poison” and shake their heads in stunned disbelief. CO2 is the main food of all life. Over the past millions of years of our “ice-age era” CO2 levels have declined to dangerous lows, approaching the die-off point of all life some 20,000 years ago. CO2 had descended to 185 ppm, and all plant life dies at 150 ppm. We have experienced some recovery today (a “mild” increase to 400-plus ppm) and plant life is once again thriving with a 15% increase in green vegetation across the earth over just the past 40 years (30% over the past century). Earth is still far below the optimal, healthy levels of most past history. CO2 often averaged in the multiple-thousands of ppm and life flourished. There was no “climate crisis”.
What has prompted the mass fear and hysteria over CO2? Could it be that fossil fuels are the life blood of capitalist society, the inexpensive driving force of industrial civilization that has lifted billions out of the misery of poverty? Industrial, capitalist civilization is hated by those under the spell of Declinism ideology. That narrative of nihilist despair embraces the myth that humans will continue to degenerate and their civilization will consequently collapse and end.
Declinism argues that humans in industrial civilization have degenerated and are destroying the natural world, despite overwhelming evidence that the wealth creation of industrial society has enabled humanity to, not only vastly improve the human condition, but also to care for nature as never before. The evidence is clear in the improving condition of all the main resources of the world (See “The true state of life on earth” just below).
Attacking and demonizing CO2 has been an effective approach used by declinists. The demonization of CO2 is a direct attack on the life blood of the hated industrial society. But CO2 demonization is anti-science, anti-human, anti-nature, and anti-life lunacy. Future generations will judge this mass insanity harshly and rightly so.
Other good reads- Michael Hart’s Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics, and Politics of Climate Change.
Features of alarmism movements, Wendell Krossa
Alarmism is commonly used by people seeking power and meddling control of others. Prehistorian John Pfeiffer noted the early human use of fear/alarm to control others in “Explosion: An inquiry into the origins of art and religion”. He suggested that the ancient cave art in places like Lascaux France revealed the effort of shaman/priests to take others into disorienting darkness and frighten them with anamorphic art (figures appearing to move in flickering candlelight). The intention of the shaman was to attain power over others with claims of knowing the secrets to the invisible realms. After terrorizing people with metaphysical threats, the priests/shaman would them tell them what sacrifices they had to make to appease the threatening spirits.
Additionally, alarmism is used to gain resources. In early ‘central temple’ versions of religion the priests took the best cuts of meat for themselves, along with the other produce that was obligatorily brought to the temples. Today, the same use of alarmism to gain resources is manifest in jockeying for cuts of the massive funding made available for green projects. Climate alarmism has become the new “big business” where those who do best at panic-mongering gain the most funding.
Alarmism also plays with and incites the tribal impulse in people (i.e. the felt need to take action against threatening “enemies”). Both sides in social/ideological divides engage alarmism crusades against their opponents.
We are observing a major alarmism movement today in relation to climate change. Though climate alarmism is often presented in “secular” language, even scientific language and terms, it is a profoundly religious-like movement embracing the same complex of primitive themes and protocols as all past apocalyptic movements, with the same archetypal religious divide between true believers and unbelievers (i.e. “deniers… they don’t believe in climate change”).
Other notable correlations and actions/responses in alarmism movements.
First, my rough definition: Alarmism is the exaggeration of problems in life to apocalyptic scale thereby distorting the true state of problems/issues in the world and irresponsibly frightening people.
Alarmism is a form of mental and emotional terrorism. Persistent alarmism pushes people into an agitated state of fear. The fear generated by alarmism narratives eventually creates panic among people and that promotes the spread of irrationality. The hysterical panic-mongering of alarmist-type people (“we’re all gonna die”, existential catastrophe is just up ahead on the horizon) arouses the survival impulse in populations and renders people susceptible to unscientific, illogical, and irrational salvation schemes.
Frightened people are then willing/open to embrace the destructive salvation schemes that are often responses to problems that can cause more damage than the original problem purportedly posed.
A striking example of a response that is more harmful than the purported threat is the climate alarm salvation scheme of ‘decarbonization’ which is an irrational and destructive response to the mild climate warming of past decades. There have been immense benefits from the mild 1 degree C warming over the past century. But this mild warming has been exaggerated as the onset of an “existential crisis” that will soon catastrophically damage and even destroy life. In response, climate alarmists are agitating for a fundamental transformation of industrial civilization that involves abandoning the inexpensive fossil fuels that have lifted humanity out of poverty and into the improved human condition of our modern world. Remember, we get some 5000-plus products from fossil fuels, many of them essential to human well-being.
Another example is the all-encompassing and harsh lockdown responses to Covid that has caused immense (and largely unreported) damage among populations (i.e. loss of businesses, unemployment, depression and other social maladies, neglected treatment of other diseases, etc.). While Covid is a serious problem, the lockdown responses have often been excessive and harmful. We know now that it was more important to protect vulnerable sectors of the population, while others could cautiously maintain normal patterns of life.
Additionally, alarmism salvation schemes often demand “instantaneous transformation” of societies based on the alarmist claim that the apocalypse is always imminent (i.e. the end is nigh, we are approaching “the last tipping point” or “point of no return”, or there are just a few years left to save the world, with dates repeatedly set for the “end of days”).
Alarmists then unleash the totalitarian impulse with claims that freedom and normal democratic processes (i.e. skepticism, questioning, free and open discussion/debate, freedom of choice) are too obstructionist to save the world in time. Further, demands for “instantaneous transformation” are usually accompanied by demands for “coercive purging” of threats/evil (i.e. silencing, banning, de-platforming, even criminalizing opponents). Efforts to coercively purge “obstructionist” opposition can lead to state-authorized force/violence by alarmists, and that force may evoke reactionary defensive force from people who realize that their rights and freedoms are being taken from them by their political opponents.
Other recent historical examples of alarmist crusades unleashing terror on populations- the Marxist alarmism over the claimed threat of capitalism, the Nazi panic-mongering against Jewish Bolshevism, along with today’s environmental alarmism movements promoting activism against industrial civilization. Again, across history both Left and Right have been guilty of using alarmist approaches though today the Left is doing so more prominently.
Emotions associated with alarmism movements- anxiety (i.e. eco-anxiety in children), despair, resignation/fatalism, hopelessness, depression. Fatalism/resignation? Note the response of young couples refusing to have children out of fear of bringing them into a world facing an apocalyptic future, or children losing interest in school because they have been indoctrinated that they may die before reaching adulthood.
Remember, exaggeration of looming apocalyptic catastrophe has always been the great lie that distorts the true state of life entirely. There has never been a better time to be alive on Earth and all the major indicators of life show amazing improvement with much more to come. We need more courageous voices to challenge the irrational, insane, and irresponsible alarmism over environmental issues and states.
Useful sources on themes and patterns in alarmism movements: Arthur Herman’s The Idea of Decline in Western History, Richard Landes’ Heaven On Earth, Arthur Mendel’s Vision and Violence, David Redles’ Hitler’s Millennial Reich, and David Altheide’s Creating Fear: News and the construction of Crisis.
Now more on climate alarmism because of its high visibility on the alarm movement landscape…
More climate facts…
Deaths from climate and natural disasters are down 96% over the past century. There is no increase in hurricane frequency or intensity. Wildfires have declined notably across the past century. Sea level rise continues at the slow and mild rate of about 1.5-3.0 mm per year. Sea levels have risen steadily since the onset of our interglacial, the Holocene. There has been 120 meters of sea level rise so far (over 10,000 years).
Extreme weather events (heat waves, cold snaps) are common all through warm and cold periods. They are weather events, influenced by varied other factors than climate.
One more: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/29/the-medieval-warm-period-a-global-phenonmena-unprecedented-warming-or-unprecedented-data-manipulation/
Keep the big picture in view
The climate change that we have experienced is exceedingly mild compared to past climate change. Note the graph on page 33 of Professor Ian Plimer’s paleo-climate history in “Heaven and Earth”. The changes in climate over the last 30,000 years of the last glaciation (50,000 to 20,000 BCE) were swings of up to 20 degrees C between cool and warm period averages. The climate changes over the 20,000 years of our interglacial have been swings of only a few degrees and so Plimer concludes, there have been “far more stable temperatures during the current interglacial”.
And over the past 5000 years of our interglacial we have been on a long-term cooling trend with each warm period cooler than the previous ones. Our current Modern Warm Period is the coolest of the last four warm periods (i.e. the Minoan, Roman, Medieval, and Modern). We are heading toward a possibly cooler future and a few more degrees of warming would be a beneficial respite from cooling which is far more destructive to all life. We should welcome more warming.
Climate warming alarmists have the true state of long-term climate trends all wrong. We ought to be more concerned about cooling than warming.
The basic issues of the climate debate Wendell Krossa
Yes, climate change is occurring. We all agree on this. But no, it is not a “crisis” or “catastrophic”.
Yes, CO2 plays a role in warming climate. But it is only a “bit player” because other natural factors play a much larger role. CO2 is not the main cause of climate change (see new report and sources below). So a “no” here as it is not scientifically correct to claim that climate change is “manmade”.
Yes, we need to “do something about climate change”. But adaptation strategies are better than mitigation policies that will devastate our societies with costly and ineffective approaches like renewables.
And our primary concern should be the current cold status of many areas of our planet (see comments just below), not more warmth.
Because CO2 is a bit player in climate change, and hence, human use of fossil fuels and emissions of CO2 are not the main cause of climate change, we do not need to tax carbon or decarbonize our societies. Plentiful and cheap fossil fuels are critical for lifting people out of poverty, for creating the wealth that enables us to improve the human condition and properly care for the natural world.
The climate alarmism narrative is wrong on many of its main claims.
Climate has always changed, and always will change. It is a complex, dynamic system that is never static. And a multitude of natural factors influence climate change. The human influence is minor and is overwhelmed by other natural factors (“natural variability”).
Add the fact that warmer climate periods are more beneficial than colder climate states because colder climate conditions produce more droughts (less evaporation), more extinctions, and more severe storminess due to more severe differences (gradients) between cold and warm fronts meeting.
There are many other variables that could be brought into climate discussions- for example, the fact that there are many places across the world that are experiencing climate cooling just as there are areas experiencing climate warming. Or that “perturbations” in carbon cycles (i.e. the land biomass/atmosphere exchange, the ocean/atmosphere exchange and the differences in such exchanges), such perturbations overwhelm the human emissions of CO2, thereby raising questions about what is really causing the modern era rise in atmospheric CO2 levels- humanity or nature? And, of course, the strong correlations of natural factors to climate change, correlations that are stronger than the human emissions correlation to climate change. Notable natural factors include the cosmic ray/cloud/sun interaction, or the multi-decadal oscillations in ocean currents like the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, and so on.
Further, there is the concern among some scientists that significant evidence points to possible cooling becoming the trend over coming decades https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/02/03/the-new-pause-lengthens-from-5-years-4-months-to-5-years-6-months/
Aside from notable El Ninos (1998, 2015/16) we have also experienced long-term pauses in warming over past decades and climate has also been subjected to the influence of extended solar minimums. The world is currently in another extended warming pause- https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/09/01/the-new-pause-lengthens-yet-again/
Climate is a very complex, dynamic system and CO2 is not the controlling variable in climate change. It is a “bit player” and trying to turn a CO2 knob and control climate is as futile as King Canute trying to prevent the rising tide. Remember President Obama’s Canute-like moment when he claimed right after his election- “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow”. Good one, Prez.
Among all the complexity that we continue to discover regarding climate variables it is manifestly premature speculation to claim that the exceedingly minor trace greenhouse gas- CO2- is mainly responsible for climate change. With the high levels of uncertainty around so many variables influencing climate, it is foolish to dogmatically focus on that one minor variable in the mix and then commit to shutting down fossil fuels that have been so critical to the success of industrial civilization. Fossil fuels have been vital to improving the human condition and enabling humanity to create the wealth that helps us to properly care for our world.
You’re afraid of global warming? That is misplaced fear.
“Cold weather kills far more people than hot weather” at https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150520193831.htm
“Cold weather kills 20 times as many people as hot weather, according to an international study analyzing over 74 million deaths in 384 locations across 13 countries. The findings published in The Lancet also reveal that deaths due to moderately hot or cold weather substantially exceed those resulting from extreme heat waves or cold spells.”
My conclusion from this study: Global warming will save far more lives from cold mortality than will be lost to warming.
Anthony Watts site offers some of the best reporting on climate and other environmental issues. https://wattsupwiththat.com/
Wildfire and climate expert Jim Steele regularly posts on Watts’ site. A recent example: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/08/11/national-public-radios-misinformation-on-wildfires-and-climate-part-2/
And data showing wildfires were much worse in the past. There has been a notable decline in wildfires over the past century:
Further, this new report “Challenging the UN, Study Finds Sun—not CO2—May Be Behind Global Warming”. The report states that natural factors, not human emissions of CO2, may be responsible for warming over coming decades. From- https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/08/16/climate-scientists-accuse-the-ipcc-of-cherrypicking-datasets-which-support-their-alarmist-narrative/
Quote from the report: “The sun and not human emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) may be the main cause of warmer temperatures in recent decades, according to a new study with findings that sharply contradict the conclusions of the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
“The peer-reviewed paper, produced by a team of almost two dozen scientists from around the world, concluded that previous studies did not adequately consider the role of solar energy in explaining increased temperatures.
“The new study was released just as the UN released its sixth “Assessment Report,” known as AR6, that once again argued in favor of the view that man-kind’s emissions of CO2 were to blame for global warming. The report said human responsibility was “unequivocal.”
“But the new study casts serious doubt on the hypothesis.
“Calling the blaming of CO2 by the IPCC “premature,” the climate scientists and solar physicists argued in the new paper that the UN IPCC’s conclusions blaming human emissions were based on “narrow and incomplete data about the Sun’s total irradiance.”
Stop the irrational, irresponsible panic-mongering, Wendell Krossa
Again, the Lancet study- 20 times more people die every year from cold than die from warmth. 20 times more. With the slight 1 degree C of warming over the past century, deaths from cold are declining more than deaths from warming are rising. See Bjorn Lomborg’s comments on this evidence at https://www.theaustralian.com.au/inquirer/climate-change-is-actually-saving-lives/news-story/3e85efcacd10118331de4f92cb6cdfe9
Global warming has been a net benefit to humanity because more people are alive now due to the mild warming of recent past decades. And yet we are still significantly below the more beneficial temperature averages of past warm periods of our Holocene interglacial (i.e. Holocene Optimum, Minoan, Roman, Medieval) and the past interglacial, the Eemian, was 3-5 degrees C warmer than our interglacial. Life flourished during those much warmer periods. Further, our modern era temperatures are still far below most of the past 500 million years that averaged 5-10 degrees C warmer than today. Again, life flourished during those much warmer eras and there was no “climate crisis”. For over 90 percent of the past 500 million years there was no ice at the poles and that meant extended habitats for plants and animals. The irrational fear of ice melting in today’s world expresses ignorance of what has been the normal, healthy state of life on our planet for most of life’s history.
Note: More heat energy entering our world does not necessarily mean more warmth in already warm areas- i.e. tropics- as heat is distributed via ocean and atmospheric convection currents to colder regions, colder seasons, and colder times of day (i.e. night).
Alarmists need to stop the hysterical panic-mongering over the mild climate warming of the past century. Four centuries ago (around 1645) the world descended into the bitter cold of the ‘Little Ice Age’ that devastated Europe with missed summers, crop failures, and starvation. Over the past three centuries we have been recovering from that descent into cold and life is now doing better. But world average temperatures today (about 15 degrees C.) are still abnormally cold compared to most of past paleo-climate history.
Further, good climate science shows that natural factors, not humanity, are most likely more responsible for this mild warming of the modern era.
A couple of degrees additional warming would benefit life immensely in net terms. Why do panic-oriented media ignore such things? Because it does not support their hysterical fear-mongering over the widely believe myth of looming apocalypse (see also “Creating Fear: News and the construction of crisis” by David Altheide). Warming that benefits all life does not affirm the ideological biases behind environmental alarmism.
Even more concerning, over the past millions of years atmospheric levels of CO2 have been declining dangerously, leaving us in a “CO2 starvation era”. Plant life has suffered from such low levels of basic plant food. With the mild recovery of CO2 over the last century, from pre-industrial levels of 285 ppm to 400-plus ppm today, plant life is now again thriving with a 15% increase in green vegetation across the Earth just since 1980. That has benefitted animal life with more food and humanity with increased crop production. We now produce 25% more food than we need, and crop production records continue to be broken yearly.
We ought to be celebrating CO2 for the net benefits that it has provided to life.
Climate change is a valid concern in any era, but there is no clear evidence that we are facing a “climate crisis”, contrary to the exaggerated claims of the IPCC’s recent ideologically-shaped “Summary for Policy Makers 2021”. Instead of radical and costly mitigation policies, we should adapt to whatever change occurs just as people have adapted across past history. It is insanity to be embracing mitigation policies to decarbonize our societies when cheap fossil fuels enable us to create the wealth that helps us adapt to climate changes. It is especially irresponsible to decarbonize when the evidence does not show that fossil fuels are the main cause of the climate change that we have observed. The public mantra of “climate change crisis” is more the expression of hysterical apocalyptic fever than climate science fact. And blaming humanity for climate change (i.e. “manmade climate change”) is too often the expression of anti-human, anti-industrial civilization, and anti-market ideologies.
No rational reason to go green
This site has repeatedly challenged the push for renewables as an unnecessary energy source given that we have plentiful cheap fossil fuel resources. This is not to say that renewables may not play a role in future energy supplies especially if they are financed on private and not public dime which harms the poorest people the most as energy costs are a larger factor in their budgets. My argument for pulling back on renewables is that fundamental climate science evidence does not affirm the claim that CO2 is mainly responsible for climate change. And aside from discredited climate models, there is no evidence that climate change will be catastrophic. Further, other natural factors consistently show stronger correlations to the climate change that we are observing.
The climate models have been consistently proven wrong in their exaggerated projections of warming, hence, alarmists are wrong in claiming that further warming will be “catastrophic” to life. We have observed evidence that warming in our abnormally cold ice-age era has been very beneficial and more warming will continue to be beneficial in net terms. Note the decline in cold deaths that far exceed the mortality from warmth. And note the massive increase in green vegetation from more atmospheric CO2 and how that has benefitted animal life with more food and humanity with increased crop production.
Add to the above comment on renewables the problems of intermittency, energy storage, energy density, and major unreported costs issues that renewables have not tackled or solved.
More on celebrating CO2
Future generations will look back at the contemporary demonization of CO as a pollutant, even poison (Bill Maher), and consider this one of the looniest episodes of irrational mass insanity in human history. Familiarize yourself again with this basic component of all life- read some articles on CO2 and the wonder of photosynthesis (for example- https://www.nature.com/scitable/topicpage/photosynthetic-cells-14025371/). Then recognize that over the past millions of years of our ice-age era, CO2 levels have been precipitously declining as never before in world history. CO2 levels recently (20-30,000 years ago) declined to 185 ppm, almost to the level (150 ppm) that would have ended all plant life. All plant life dies at 150 ppm.
Fortunately, we have been experiencing a slight recovery in CO2 levels but are still far below the healthier levels of the past that were in the multiple-thousands of ppm (e.g. 6000 ppm during the Cambrian Explosion). Life flourished during such times. Today, with just the little recovery to 400-plus ppm, starving plant life is once again flourishing with a 15% addition of green vegetation since 1980. Animal and human life benefits immensely with more food. More CO2 also enhances crop production (see “CO2science.org” for detailed studies on crop enhancement from aerial CO2 fertilization).
Confusing weather events with climate
A new article at Wattsupwiththat.com explains the difference between weather and climate, a difference repeatedly distorted by alarmist media trying to capitalize on extreme weather events to affirm their “manmade climate crisis” narrative. See full article at https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/08/17/does-climate-change-cause-extreme-weather-now-heres-a-scorcher-of-a-reality-check/
The June heatwave in the Pacific Northwest illustrates how alarmist groups use extreme weather events to push their apocalyptic narrative and demand political action, costly action that will devastate our societies. Media like the New York Times (along with CNN, TIME, CNBC, Washington Post, USA Today, and others) pronounced the heatwave as proof that climate was changing catastrophically. Others stated the heat “was virtually impossible without human-caused climate change”.
But an atmospheric scientist, Cliff Mass, running weather models, had predicted the heatwave. He rejected the claim that global warming was to blame. “With or without climate change, Mass wrote, the region ‘still would have experienced the most severe heat wave of the past century’”. Mass said that “the heatwave was the result of natural variability”.
Mass, and others, have affirmed the fundamental rule when considering extreme temperature events. “Weather… refers to conditions during a short time in a limited area, climate (describes) longer-term atmospheric patterns over large areas… There is a fundamental difference in scale between what weather is and what climate is. ‘What’s going on in one small corner of the world at a given moment does not reflect what’s going on with the climate’”.
Despite this fundamental rule of difference between climate and weather, surveys show that most people have been swayed by media alarmism and admit their views about climate change are shaped by extreme weather events. This suits alarmist goals for mobilizing political action even though it misrepresents science and distorts the difference between local natural variability and larger climate change.
Mass concludes that global warming alarmism has become a religion with true believers and infidels/unbelievers (“deniers”). Skeptics, while accepting global warming is occurring, do not accept the exaggerated catastrophism of alarmists.
And a bit on human oneness
On race https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jun/09/human-genome-genes-genetic-code
One conclusion from the Human Genome Project was that “’race’ is a social construct not rooted in biology: there is much more genetic variation within conventional racial groupings than between them”.
A good exposure of the fallacy of “climate crisis” from https://wattsupwiththat.com/2021/08/24/heres-why-climate-alarmists-are-ignoring-all-time-record-crop-production-in-india/
“Here’s Why Climate Alarmists Are Ignoring All-Time Record Crop Production in India”
From THE WESTERN JOURNAL, By Vijay Jayaraj August 21, 2021
“All-time record crop production in India belies the doomsday narrative of climate alarmists. To no great surprise, the U.N. and media ignore the remarkable achievement of this country of 1.4 billion people because it contradicts a political agenda pursued with religious fervor.
“Even as the world’s largest democracy enhances global food security, the media spread news of the U.N.’s “code red” for humanity over August’s specious report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that rising temperatures threaten the earth.
“In fact, India’s record food production contradicts claims about adverse climatic effects on crops.
“Countries across the globe are experiencing improved environmental health: Pollution levels are down in the developed world and nations are increasingly using their financial wealth for reforestation and betterment of ecosystems, including that of the agricultural sector.
“India has outperformed the previous year’s crop production by an incredible 3.7 percent — 308 million tons for 2020-21 compared to a previous 297 million tons.
“The agricultural ministry noted that all major crops — including wheat, maize and oilseeds — registered record output this year. India has also had its highest-ever horticulture production in 2021, which includes fruits, vegetables, aromatic and medicinal plants, spices and plantation crops.
“Several factors have contributed to the massive crop output that is a welcome departure from continual famines of the 1950s and ’60s stemming from insufficient food grains.
“In the 1970s, India’s agricultural sector entered the Green Revolution spawned by Norman Borlaug’s improved, gene-edited crop varieties. With the economic liberalization of the 1990s, the country further opened doors for its agricultural sector to flourish so that today it is one of the world’s top producers.
“Also important to note is that this remarkable success in food production would not have been possible without an environment favorable to crops. What the media call a curse — increased levels of carbon dioxide and greater warmth — has been a blessing to farmers and consumers.
“Yields of food crops — in India and worldwide — have benefited from the fertilization effect of carbon dioxide and the longer growing seasons resulting from natural increases in temperature. Overall, agriculture certainly has not been hurt by weather; otherwise, such record harvests likely would have been impossible.
“India’s experience, for example, has allayed fears about the region not receiving enough rainfall due to climate change.
“Data of rainfall for the last 100 years reveal that there has been no declining trend in the monsoon, with the rainfall pattern largely being typically unpredictable except for few short periods of consistency.
“Cold weather — what climate doomsayers seem desperate to have — is the bane of crops.
“In 2021, 80-90 percent of vineyards and orchards in parts of France died during a cold wave that a government official called the “greatest agricultural disaster” in recent memory. Likewise, in Brazil and Paraguay, cold waves in June and July reduced crop yields in many regions. Citrus fruits, sugarcane and coffee were most affected.
“Today’s global average temperature contrasts favorably to that of the 17th century’s Little Ice Age, when cold temperatures caused widespread death of plants and people. The gradual increase in warmth since the 18th century has ensured improved environmental conditions for flora.
“So media stories of a warming climate endangering global food security are absurd. Real-world data reveal that the modern climate has been a boon to crops.
“There is no climate emergency. Earth and its people are in fact flourishing in a time of relative warmth and plenty.” (End of article)