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Denial and Alarmism in the Near-Term Extinction and Collapse Debate

Guest article by Alastair McIntosh,  honorary professor in the College of Social Sciences at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. This is an excerpt from his new book, Riders on the Storm: The Climate Crisis and the Survival of Being

cover art for Riders on the StormMostly, we only know what we think we know about climate science because of the climate science. I have had many run-ins with denialists, contrarians or climate change dismissives as they are variously called. Over the past two years especially, concern has also moved to the other end of the spectrum, to alarmism. Both ends, while the latter has been more thinly tapered, can represent forms of denial. In this abridged adaptation I will start with denialism, but round on the more recent friendly fire on science that has emerged in alarmism.

Climate change dismissives

One of my more peculiar run-ins with a dismissive voice was through an online debate in 2010 that ECOS, the journal of the British Association of Nature Conservationists, organised between me and an English wildlife ecologist, Peter Taylor. Taylor’s 2009 book, Chill, argued that far from living in a world that’s heating up, ‘the period 2002–07 marks a turning point, then glaciers will begin to grow and ice mass begin to accumulate again, thus levelling off the sea level rises’. He saw the cold winter of 2008–9 as heralding the coming ice age(1). Being an ecologist, this made him a hero of climate change denialism, an avid convert from the other church; and for a time, Chill ranked as number one in Amazon UK’s bestselling league for ‘global warming’.

Invariably I have found myself asking of such figures, who have no credibly peer-reviewed publications in climate science: what makes them think that they know better than experts with a reputation worth not losing? I also ask myself what drives their attitudes. Often, these are a class of people heavily invested in consumerist lifestyles. Their material markers of identity and prestige, and their masks of distraction from what is challenging in life may be at stake. Some just don’t care. I define consumerism as consumption that is in excess of what is needed for a dignified sufficiency of living. However, a handful of the most effective dismissives don’t fit obvious characterisation, being more altruistic in holding their position. Peter Taylor is one such, and my late friend the botanist and TV celebrity Professor David Bellamy was another. Taylor concedes that the heavy impact of climate mitigation measures on nature and landscapes – terrestrial wind farms in particular – has influenced his views. Bellamy, likewise.

At the time of our ECOS exchange, Taylor praised it, saying: ‘I know of no other consistent debate on this important issue.’ Not having been in touch for years, I dropped him a line while writing this book. I asked: given that his forecast ‘chill’ has not materialised, did he think that it was coming yet, for all that? His reply was characteristically warm and cheerful. It left my question feeling almost mean-spirited. He made no reference back to his previous predictions. Instead, to my astonishment, he wrote of ‘record warmth – just as we could expect’, that the current warm period ‘may have two or three centuries to run’, and the next ice age is not just around the corner but ‘three to four hundred years away’(2). It seemed that the denial had full astern gone retrograde. I scratched my head and gave a weary nod to all those hours spent on the ECOS great debate.

Heavy ad hominem artillery

Other run-ins have had a less avuncular if, paradoxically, a more jaunty feel to them. The Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) is Britain’s foremost ‘climate sceptic’ lobby group. Set up by Lord (Nigel) Lawson of Blaby, Mrs Thatcher’s former chancellor of the exchequer, its website is literally a ‘dark’ web in its presenting colour scheme. Its board comprises a formidable array of heavyweight political figures, contrarian scientists and erstwhile captains of commerce, the media and the civil service. To see power at work – elevated, concentrated and networked – go no further than to take a look online, and gape(3). Most such lobby bodies no longer say that global warming isn’t happening. Instead, they’ll take issue with abstruse elements of the scientific data, with the extrapolated rate of heating, with the attribution of its causes or with the expected impact and anticipated costs – not least the ‘socialist’ taxation and regulatory implications – of actually doing something.

Lord Lawson refuses to disclose the sources of the GWPF’s funding, conceding only that he relies on friends who ‘tend to be richer than the average person and much more intelligent than the average person’(4). Since 2017 its deputy-director has been Andrew Montford, a chemist by original training, turned chartered accountant(5). My encounter with Montford came in 2010 when The Scottish Review of Books asked me to review his investigative work, The Hockey Stick Illusion: Climategate and the Corruption of Science, which claims to be a ‘demolition of the veracity’ of Michael Mann’s hockey stick curve(6). Like Taylor’s Chill a year earlier, the book quickly achieved cult status amongst climate change deniers. I concluded that at best it might help to keep already-overstretched scientists on their toes. At worst, it was a yapping terrier worrying the bull, one that cripples action, potentially costing lives and livelihoods(7).

Montford runs a blog from which, under the pseudonym of ‘Bishop Hill’, he lampoons the high priests (as he sees them) of climate science and all such hooey as green taxes, subsidies, legislation and self-righteous preaching from the likes of, well, yours faithfully. His Grace, as his congregation deferentially refer to him, responded to my piece with two blogs that had me tossed into the dungeons of the Inquisition for heretical impertinence, an abomination unto the sensibilities of the Lord. A crusade was launched, a jihad ensued, and fusillades were fired from keyboards poised in every corner of his parish. In all, some 150 comments linger as remaining landmines on the good bishop’s website.

‘He is an enemy of the people and the state and is declared anathema,’ said one. I took the humour as a badge of office. Even better, said another: ‘Deploy heavy ad hominem artillery to characterize [him] as a coprophagic protocranial.’ Verily, it’s a sorry day when a literary reviewer has to go and look up even simple dictionary words. ‘Adopt a lordly disdain and ignore him.’ ‘He and his eco-chums are in it for the money.’ ‘Another one of these weird Highlanders who seem to dominate Scotland.’ ‘Alastair, just keep tossing off your caber.’ ‘Yer Grace, show no quarter, none will be given.’ ‘He deserves a kicking.’(8)

I came out of such a Punch and Judy show well able to brush off the laugh. But it was all right for me. I make use of climate science coming from an early background of just a general earth sciences degree. I pitch no claim to be a climate scientist. Others, at the heart of science – whether Mann in the USA, or the English scientists such as Phil Jones caught up at the heart of ‘Climategate’ at the University of East Anglia – suffer for their work. No quarter is the order of their day.

Alarmism, doomism and Roger Hallam

What most scientists had not foreseen with an eye so fixated on the artillery of denialism, was the sustained and one would presume well-intentioned misuse of science from the other end of the spectrum, by those who do accept the reality of climate change. When Extinction Rebellion began in England, it conveyed a sense of being witnesses to the cascade of plant and animal extinctions that are escalating around the world as many habitats become less habitable. There is no scientific quibble with that. However, the narrative soon escalated to human death on a massive and imminent scale. As the prominent co-founder Roger Hallam saw it, the burning question had become: ‘How do we avoid extinction?’

His 2019 manifesto, Common Sense for the 21st Century(9), was written in his own name but widely hailed as representing the views of Extinction Rebellion and heavily promoted by the organisation’s London HQ. Referencing his claim to ‘one recent scientific opinion’, he warns of 6 to 7 billion people dead as a result of climate change ‘within the next generation or two’. The paper cited as his authority in the footnotes makes no such claim(10). It is purely Hallam’s extrapolation of a 5°C world, given what Common Sense calls ‘the central role of methane in a climate emergency . . . with the system spiralling out of our control and the likelihood of global collapse within a decade or two’. He reiterated the mass dieback claim in a BBC News interview feature, trenchantly insisting: ‘I am talking about the slaughter, death and starvation of 6 billion people this century – that’s what the science predicts.’(11)

Climate Feedback, a website more used to taking on deniers than alarmists, invited an expert panel to give their opinions on this prediction. The responses ranged from ‘an illustration of a worst-case scenario’ to ‘wild speculation’. Ken Caldeira, senior scientist at the Carnegie Institution, put it bluntly: ‘I know of no climate model simulation or analysis in the quality peer-reviewed literature that provides any indication’ that there is a substantial probability, above zero, of 6 billion deaths this century.(12)

Jem Bendell and ‘Deep Adaptation’

Meanwhile, a variation of the theme was coming in from Jem Bendell, a business school professor at the University of Cumbria in the north of England. An expert in digital currencies, his staff web page playfully describes how it earned him the moniker ‘Professor Bitcoin’(13). Bendell’s contribution to Extinction Rebellion’s manifesto, This is Not a Drill, tells that he ‘grieved how I may not grow old’(14). The manifesto thesis for which he is now known, Deep Adaptation, anticipates ‘inevitable near-term social collapse due to climate change’ resulting in ‘probable catastrophe and possible extinction’(15). This, as he wrote on his blog, could be expected ‘in many, perhaps most, countries of the world . . . within 10 years’(16). He spelt out both the imminence and what it would look like in a roundup of where he considered the climate science stood as of 2018.

‘But when I say starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war, I mean in your own life. With the power down, soon you wouldn’t have water coming out of your tap. You will depend on your neighbours for food and some warmth. You will become malnourished. You won’t know whether to stay or go. You will fear being violently killed before starving to death.’(17)

Deep Adaptation was originally an academic paper that had failed peer review for lack of scholarly rigour. Bendell posted it to the web in 2018, achieving an astonishing half a million downloads within the first year. Part of his rationale leans on what he describes as ‘data published by scientists from the Arctic News’. However, Arctic News is no scholarly tome. It is a blog site that, amidst lurid illustrations, invokes the methane bomb and projects a possible global temperature rise of 10°C, by 2026, based on ‘adjusted NASA data’ heralding the ‘mass extinction of man’(18). Again, the pushback comes from within the scientific community itself. A journalist asked Gavin Schmidt, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and one of the world’s leading climate experts what he made of Bendell’s paper. Schmidt said, and further pressed the point on his Twitter account, that it mixes ‘both valid points and unjustified statements throughout’, but is ‘not based on anything real’(19).

In a 2019 blog, Bendell responded to criticisms of his slant on the science. He describes his grief at having chosen not to have children, partly because they are ‘the greatest contribution to carbon emissions that you could make’ and partly out of ‘the realization of the world they will have to live and die within’. He concludes that in future he will not be replying to, but rather, stepping away from, such controversies around his scientific claims to focus instead on building up the community around Deep Adaptation(20), the activities of which include workshops, trainings, residencies in Bali, and an annual retreat at a yoga centre in Greece to ‘support peaceful empowered surrender to our predicament, where action can arise from an engaged love of humanity and nature, rather than redundant stories of worth and purpose’(21).

However, within a year of his withdrawal from scientific debate, he wrote a further blog having requested Schmidt to render his criticism specific. Schmidt obliged, providing a raft of reproofs including his assessment that Deep Adaptation’s take on Arctic methane was ‘totally misleading’, and that its pitch on runaway climate change was ‘nonsense’. The professor, whose day job was to teach ‘a sustainability-themed MBA programme’, was unwilling to concede any significant ground to NASA’s top climate scientist. Digging in his heels, the blog concluded: ‘I have identified two minor corrections and two clarifications I will make on the paper. However, none of those are material to the situation we are in and none of the main points are revoked.’(22)

Shortly afterwards, BBC News ran a feature that profiled Bendell and his most ardent ‘followers’ as ‘climate doomers’. It quoted Myles Allen, professor of geosystem science at the University of Oxford, as saying that he considers Deep Adaptation to display ‘the level of science of the anti-vax campaign’(23). In counterpoint, it also cited Will Steffen, a retired scientist who had served on the Australian Climate Commission, suggesting that Bendell may be ‘ahead of the game in warning us about what we might need to prepare for’. The pity of it all is that Bendell’s core agenda – about the need for resilience, relinquishment, restoration, and recently he has added reconciliation – is both necessary and inspiring. That is why he has gathered such a following amongst people who are hungry for deeper meaning. We need people like him and Hallam who, at their most effective, and if they discipline themselves to the settled science, can take an overview of things, drawing out what most matters, contextualising it and presenting it to the public in ways more digestible than the raw IPCC reports. There is for each of us so much that is good and right to do anyway, without having to overreach our fields of expertise, conflate climate change with other causes and play fast and loose with signs seen in the sky.

Arctic News, McPherson and doomsday 2026

Meanwhile, Arctic News’ chosen doomsday date of 2026 doubles as the apocalyptic year of choice of Guy McPherson, a retired professor of evolutionary and resource ecology at the University of Arizona, and Bendell’s referenced source in Deep Adaptation where discussing fears of an ‘inevitable methane release . . . leading to the extinction of the human race’(24). McPherson, in turn and in a way that starts to feel rather circular, references his claims back to material from Arctic News, as well as to extrapolation from a range of scientific papers and other sources that, he says, ‘even 10-year-olds understand . . . and [that] Wikipedia accepts [as] the evidence for near-term human extinction’. The phrase used there, Near Term Human Extinction, has gathered a considerable ecopopulist cult following, complete with the social media hashtag #NTHE and online mental health support groups for the depressed and suicidal. The professor crisply reiterated and summed up his position in an interview given in 2018: ‘Specifically, I predict that there will be no humans on Earth by 2026, based on projections of near-term planetary temperature rise and the demise of myriad species that support our own existence.’(25)

His website, Nature Bats Last, prominently offers suicide advice on its home page [Ed. which we are not linking to]. While advising against such a move, he counsels that it can nevertheless ‘be a thoughtful decision’, and with this endorsement he bizarrely links to the post-mortem website of Martin Manley of Kansas, who intricately blogged the preparations for his own departure by self-inflicted gunshot in a parking lot(26). For those who believe in the severity and particularly the imminence of their prognostications, such alarmism arguably crosses over into the realm of fantasy. If conflated with reality, this risks its own potentially tragic consequences.

Breakdown to break through?

There are other sides to the position that I have taken here against alarmism. An activist friend put it to me that what Bendell’s work does is that it pushes a point to make a point. It usefully brings people to the state of breakdown, from where they can break through into the new social norms that are demanded by deep adaptation. It also expresses the precautionary principle. My view, is that if a case can’t be made without it being over-egged, either the case is not valid or those to whom it is being pitched are being spun. Exaggeration or invoking fear and panic only entrenches positions and sets up a backlash. The unembellished science is quite bad enough to be good enough.

I get people coming up at my talks, or sending in an email, then being disappointed when I tell them that I only partly buy into the fears stimulated by prominent alarmists. Because I say I’m sticking to consensus science – even knowing that it can never be bang up to date and that its expression will be sure but probably cautious – I suspect they sometimes think that I’m the denier. A climate model researcher in Sweden dropped me a line, saying that he gets the same disappointed reactions, adding that ‘some teenagers are distraught on this, so the alarmism of such actors is taking a heavy and unjustifiable psychological toll on others.’ Those who work with young people warn of the consequences of growing ‘climate anxiety’(27).

None of this is to suggest that what is happening to the planet ought not provoke anxiety. I said to the climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, that I often find myself racked between the deniers and the alarmists, trying to hold on to the humanity of both, recognising their fears or differing priorities, and yet insisting on consensus science. She answered, ‘It is a narrow and lonely place so it’s great to have company!’(28). Michael Mann concurs. He sees ‘doomism and despair’ that exceeds the science as being ‘extremely destructive and extremely influential’. It has built up ‘a huge number of followers and it has been exploited and co-opted by the forces of denial and delay’. ‘Good scientists aren’t alarmists,’ he insists. ‘Our message may be – and in fact is – alarming . . . The distinction is so very, very critical and cannot be brushed under the rug.’(30)

Neither Hayhoe nor Mann are the kind of scientists who take distance from campaigning as ‘climate advocates’, as the former puts it. Both openly support and encourage protest that rests on a firm evidence base. In April 2019, they were amongst the twenty-two lead authors of a letter to Science, headed ‘Concerns of young protesters are justified.’ Along with more than 3,000 other experts who added their names as co-signatories, it stated: ‘We call for our colleagues across all disciplines and from the entire world to support these young climate protesters. We declare: Their concerns are justified and supported by the best available science.’

The tension, then, is not between science and protest. The tension is between science and multiplying up its extreme ends of likelihood in ways that are tantamount to pseudoscience: ‘If the worst imaginable happens it is this. And if the worst of that happens, it is this.’ The ancient Celts were justified in their greatest fear that the sky would fall in. The asteroid may be on its way right now. But real science balances up the probabilities.

Millennialism or future possibilities?

Like denialism, alarmism distorts our temporal horizons of what is possible. As the veteran Greenpeace campaigner Chris Rose suggests, its ‘gloom picking’ leads to ‘solutions denial’ that ramps up ‘climate grief’ that exploits the poorly informed(31). In their panic, many of its key proponents advocate potentially disastrous fixes, the magic bullet of geoengineering especially, and that, in the form of solar radiation modification. I agree with those who say: ‘There isn’t enough time.’ And yet, the opposite of one great truth is very often another great truth. As an Arabic proverb puts it: ‘Haste is the key to sorrow.’ If our politics are deep green, we must pay attention to the fact that, already, nativist forms of ecofascism have drawn blood on growing alt-right fringes of drawbridge environmentalism. The ‘Unabomber’ and the Christchurch mosque gunman both appealed to certain types of ‘green’ narrative in their manifestos(32).

All this is why I walk along the ridge of Katharine Hayhoe’s ‘narrow and lonely place’. To over-egg the cake is like those terrorist alerts that remain forever high. Alarmists who extrapolate beyond sound evidence may be right, but if so, by the wrong process. The upside, is that they may perversely hit it lucky and warn of something of which others had been too cautious. The downside, is that in the long run they undermine the very principles of truth that they purport to speak.

Alarmism feeds upon the natural fears and decent trust of the understandably uninformed. It allows the enemies of climate action to paint climate science as the domain of wacky prophets and their followers, who have to keep on revising upwards their forecast date of doomsday. It draws those who have been caught up in such thinking into the cognitive dissonance reduction of looking for, and in a strange way maybe even hoping, that the signs on which they have staked so much are being fulfilled. This chimera of narratorial control affords an illusory sense of agency, and perhaps prestige, to individuals who may lack the humility, or be too captivated by their personal fears, to accept the limitations of their knowing as well as the wider ambiguities of emergent knowledge. Where pronounced, such alarmism can echo a ‘conspiracy mentality’ zeal, such as the philosopher Quassim Cassam characterises in figures who might be ‘quick to denounce mainstream academia for rejecting their theories [yet] crave academic respectability … and trumpet their PhDs, whatever their subject.’(33)

Moreover, in an age of perhaps renewed spiritual searching this can pander to climate change millennialism in a ‘phony holy’ cultic psychology. Certainly, it might correctly second guess the future. But if so, probably only as an artifact of flawed or grandiose reasoning. More probably, it will merely escalate the psychological defensive mechanisms used to maintain ‘cognitive consistency’, and these, much as Festinger and colleagues memorably described in their 1950s doomsday study, When Prophecy Fails.(34)

The only remedy is that in our understandable despair and burning yearning for change, we must keep head engaged, as well as heart and hand. We have no mandate to collapse the possibilities of the future, to contract and restrict our latitude for agency and action. Climate change denial is a waste of time. But climate change alarmism is a theft of time.


  1. Peter Taylor, Chill: A reassessment of global warming theory, Clairview, East Sussex, 2009, pp. 232, 268–9, 301. The ECOS debate in 2010 has since been lost in a website revamp. I retain the email thread.
  2. Emails from Peter Taylor drawn upon here are 31 October 2010 and 18–19 November 2019.
  3. Board of Trustees’, Global Warming Policy Foundation, 3 February 2020.
  4. Bob Ward, ‘Secret funding of climate sceptics is not restricted to the US’, The Guardian, 15 February 2013.
  5. Andrew W. Montford’, Desmog, 2017.
  6. Montford, A.W., published by Stacey International, London, 2010. See also Tamino, ‘The Montford Delusion’, RealClimate, 22 July 2010.
  7. Alastair McIntosh, ‘Review of The Hockey Stick Illusion’, Scottish Review of Books, 6:3, August 2010.
  8. Bishop Hill, ‘Scottish Review of Books’, 14 August 2010; and ‘Did he read it?’ 17 August 2010.
  9. Roger Hallam, Common Sense for the 21st Century, PDF version 0.3.
  10. Xu paper used by Hallam: Yangyang Xu and Veerabhadran Ramanathan, ‘Well below 2°C: Mitigation strategies for avoiding dangerous to catastrophic climate changes’, PNAS, 114:39, 2017, pp. 10,315–23.
  11. BBC News, Roger Hallam interviewed by Stephen Sackur, BBC HardTalk, 17 August 2019.
  12. Scott Johnson (ed.), ‘Prediction by Extinction Rebellion’s Roger Hallam that climate change will kill 6 billion people by 2100 is unsupported’, Climate Feedback, 22 August 2019.
  13. University of Cumbria, ‘Professor Jem Bendell, PhD’, Institute for Leadership Sustainability, Business.
  14. Jem Bendell, ‘Doom and Bloom: Adapting to Collapse’, This is Not a Drill, op. cit., pp. 73–7.
  15. Jem Bendell, Deep Adaptation: a Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy, IFLAS Occasional Paper 2 (Postscript: The link to the original 27 July 2018 version of the paper on this landing site, the version from which I have quoted, was taken down and replaced with a Revised 2nd Edition on 27 July 2020. The original can still be accessed online. The new version came a fortnight after a challenging and much-remarked upon criticism of the science of Deep Adaptation from three scientist members of Extinction Rebellion: Thomas Nicholas, Galen Hall and Colleen Schmidt, ‘The faulty science, doomism and flawed conclusions of Deep Adaptation’, Open Democracy, 14 July 2020. Amongst the changes made, are that a section about Arctic methane has been removed, meaning that Arctic News is no longer cited within the body text although it remains in the references. Most revealing is a welcome change made in the abstract. The original opened: ‘The purpose of this conceptual paper is to provide readers with an opportunity to reassess their work and life in the face of an inevitable near term social collapse due to climate change.’ The revised, shifts from a statement of fact to one of opinion (my italics): ‘The purpose of this conceptual paper is to provide readers with an opportunity to reassess their work and life in the face of what I believe to be an inevitable near-term societal collapse due to climate change.’ Bendell has pushed back strongly against the Open Democracy critique, commencing with his riposte: ‘Letter to Deep Adaptation Advocate Volunteers about Misrepresentation of the Agenda and Movement‘, Professor Jem Bendell blog, 15 July 2020. An extensive debate followed on Twitter, for example, multiple threads down from Tom Nicholas).
  16. Jem Bendell, ‘A Year of Deep Adaptation’, Professor Jem Bendell blog, 7 July 2019. This is also the source of the half-million downloads statistic. Note that the coronavirus is not (in any obvious way) caused by climate change.
  17. Jem Bendell, ‘A Summary of Some Climate Science in 2018’, Professor Jem Bendell blog, 22 March 2018.
  18. Arctic News page linked by Bendell: Sam Carana, ‘Warning Climate Warning!! Alert: Signs of Extinction’, Arctic News, 3 March 2018. I’ve also cited from pages linked thereto. A number of the writers featured in Arctic News, including John Nissen, were associated a decade ago with AMEG, the Arctic Methane Emergency Group.
  19. Mann and Schmidt, Twitter thread, 22 November 2019. Schmidt, first quote in the tweet, second in the Nafeez Ahmed Vice article linked by Mann to whom Schmidt was responding.
  20. Jem Bendell, ‘Responding to Green Positivity Critiques of Deep Adaptation’, Resilience, 15 April 2019.
  21. Deep Adaptation Retreat with Jem Bendell and Katie Karr: Inner resilience for tending a sacred unravelling’, Kalikalos Holistic Network, 2020. Also, with comments at the bottom around the dilemmas of flying to such a location in 2018 retreat) and (2019 retreat).
  22. Jem Bendell: ‘The Worst Argument to Try to Win: Response to Criticism of the Climate Science in Deep Adaptation’, Professor Jem Bendell blog, 27 February 2020.
  23. Jack Hunter, ‘The “climate doomers” preparing for society to fall apart’, BBC News, 16 March 2020.
  24. Bendell, Deep Adaptation, op. cit., with citation to Guy McPherson’s ‘Climate Change Summary and Update’, Nature Bats Last, update 2 August 2016.
  25. Rajani Kanth, ‘On Imminent Human Extinction: [Guy McPherson] Interviewed by Rajani Kanth’, Nature Bats Last, 12 October 2018. Also, Guy McPherson, Twitter, 25 September 2019: (tweet now unavailable, account now deleted).
  26. Guy McPherson, ‘Contemplating Suicide? Please Read This’, Nature Bats Last, 8 July 2014.
  27. Matthew Taylor and Jessica Murray, ‘“Overwhelming and terrifying”: the rise of climate anxiety’, The Guardian, 10 February 2020.
  28. Katharine Hayhoe, Twitter, 19 December 2019.
  29. Michael Mann (on Guy McPherson), Twitter, 13 August 2019.
  30. Michael Mann, Twitter, 16 February 2019: http://bit.ly/2VJtmqX.
  31. Chris Rose, ‘Tragedy or Scandal? Strategies Of GT, XR and the New Climate Movement’, Three Worlds blog, 13 February 2020. Full paper.
  32. Likewise, the debate around green Nazism. See Franz-Josef Brüggemeier, Marc Cioc and Thomas Zeller (eds), How Green Were the Nazis? Nature, Environment, and Nation in the Third Reich, Ohio University Press, 2005.
  33. Quassim Cassam, Conspiracy Theories, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2019, p. 25.
  34. Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken & Stanley Schachter, When Prophecy Fails: A Social and Psychological Study of a Modern Group That Predicted the Destruction of the World, Harper, New York, 1964.

205 Responses to “Denial and Alarmism in the Near-Term Extinction and Collapse Debate”

  1. 51
    MA Rodger says:

    Robert L. Bradley Jr @1 & @47,
    As within the blog-page you link-to you seem to object to the “perjorative” label of denier, perhaps I should label you a ‘deluded skeptic’ as you skepticism is evidently deeply polluted by unreason.

    I’m interested by the claim you broadcast as to the length of time that climatology has been putting time-limits on the response required to address AGW. On your blog-page you quote a question allegedly tweeted to one of our RealClimate hosts:-

    “I’m wondering what the difference is between “climate doom”, and realism based on scientific data? Legitimate scientific papers from the 80s and 90s concluded, “we have ten years left to address climate change, before it’s too late”. These weren’t fringe articles, but rather, genuine peer-reviewed papers in recognised scientific journals. So…are these papers suddenly no longer valid? Why is someone who reads these, and concludes that it’s too late, called a “doomer”? Honest question.”

    If there are such “legitimate scientific papers from the 80s & 90s,” it would be correct to reference them and not, as you do, double-down with an assertion that “Climate exaggeration has been mainstream for decades, and it is now alarming the alarmists.” (And do note the 80s was certainly prior to any actions taken on CFCs, HCFCs etc)

    So, Robert L. Bradley Jr, do provide these references to 80s & 90s papers. Or will we have to add their real-world absence to the list of delusions fuelling your unreasoned ‘skepticism’?

  2. 52
    Al Bundy says:

    Mike’s link: Greenland is losing ice seven times faster than it was in the 1990s

    AB: Though it is a different pole, this follows JH’s “exponential melt” hypothesis with a doubling time of around 9 years.

    So yes, Mike. Yet again the planet is meeting Alarmists’ expectations.

  3. 53
    Al Bundy says:

    Nigelj: I doubt that there’s a better solution,

    AB: wow. So defeatist.

    Jeff’s link: “The prospect of common open water ships, which comprise the vast majority of the global fleet, entering the Arctic Ocean in late summer, and even its remote central basin by moderately ice-strengthened vessels heightens the urgency for a

    AB: Too optimistic (or pessimistic). A steady counterflow of convoys led by a ship or two with some measure of ice capability can easily keep the “highway” clear not just in late summer but for longer and longer each decade.

    And since leading a convoy will be more profitable than paying to join one lots of sturdier ships will be built.

    And since supply chain interruptions are expensive, convoy leaders that can operate in whatever “winter” is will be built.

    By 2063 we might have a year round un-ice highway directly across the Arctic ocean.

  4. 54
    Al Bundy says:

    Speculating here:

    The tipping point could be when convoy leaders stop choosing the most ice-free route, but go with the most clogged route they can handle. Shaving a few hours off the entire convoy’s time by bucking some ice will make bucking up some ice profitable (the Magic Word).

    From there on the highway will shorten as climate change and stronger ships defeat the Arctic, maybe as soon as 2063. Maybe as late as 2107.

    Soot is a grand ice melter. Better get with International pollution controls pronto (as the link also concluded).

    And note that “lack of sufficient altitude at the surface” is Greenland’s tipping point. As it melts it will eventually require a larger and larger drop in temperature below preindustrial to recover.

    Yo, BPL! How much altitude loss is equivalent to 1C of local warming?

  5. 55
    Robert Callaghan says:

    *4% OF MAMMALS ARE WILD + 4% OF ENERGY IS RENEWABLE*
    Solar and wind power are 2% of total global energy use after 30 years trying . https://www.iea.org/data-and-statistics . By 2040 only 15% of global energy will be renewable . This is because electricity is a little over 20% of global energy use . By weight only 4% of mammals are wild, humans & livestock = 96% . Emissions went up 50% in 30 yrs , up 30% in 15 years . BAU = RCP8.5 = C02 @ 500 ppm by 2040 and 600 ppm by 2050 = 2X safe limit of 300 ppm . Renewables will be only 20% of global energy by 2050, even with new solar tech — thanks to AC, cryptos, chargers, EVs etc.

    Dams and bio-energy are ecological shit holes.

    You can’t burn forests for electricity to save us from the climate.
    To get 30% of energy from algae would take a country the size of Argentina.
    Soy and corn are gene modded to survive the poisons that kill birds, bugs, fish, frogs & plants.
    Soy and corn are treated with petrochemicals and nano particles for market.
    Soy and corn are wrapped in gender bending containers for shipping and storage, then we eat it – get sick – and buy medicine from the same people.

    *There will never be a 100% green energy vegan world ever.*
    Some ideas are so stupid, only intellectuals believe them.
    Academic circle jerk asphyxia is the leading cause of male extinction.

    4% of global energy is renewable – YT, WSJ, BP 2019
    https://lokisrevengeblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/renewable-2030.png
    4 global climate treaties failed in 30 years – Canadian Government 2018
    https://lokisrevengeblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/canada-emissions-record.jpg
    15% of global energy will be renewable by 2040 – YT WSJ BP 2019
    https://lokisrevengeblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/renewable-2030-02.png
    15% of global energy will be renewable by 2040 – CNBC IEA 2018
    https://lokisrevengeblog.files.wordpress.com/2019/12/2040-energy.png

    “To meet 20% of all global energy by 2050, the solar industry would need to install 300 to 500 GW annually over the next 30 years. Current global PV module manufacturing is 100 GW per year.”

    https://www.solarpowerworldonline.com/2020/02/perovskite-solar-cells-hero-villain-or-just-plain-fantasy/

    We burn soy, corn and palm oil in cars, also plastic and trees for electricity. The trees come from rainforest clearcuts to plant more soy and palm oil to burn or eat . This is called green energy. It’s fraud for green money called carbon credits.
    Even without increased AC, EVs, crypto and charger demands, renewables are unfit for purpose on a global scale. 5% or even 10% per decade won’t do.

    50 Reasons why wind power can not replace fossil fuels
    http://energyskeptic.com/2019/wind/

    Global scale new solar wind tech will take decades to do.
    They still chug out solar panels the old fashioned way, and won’t stop until they have to. It’s the same with giant offshore epoxy wind blades. They’re worth too many millions to shut down just because it’s wrong.

    *100% private global quarterly UBI carbon wealth tax dividends = Real Climate Justice*
    4% of Mammals Are Wild https://lokisrevengeblog.wordpress.com/collpase-charts/
    4% of Energy Is Renewable https://lokisrevengeblog.wordpress.com/climate-and-energy-fraud/
    Bayer + Monsanto = Death https://lokisrevengeblog.wordpress.com/toxic-half-life/
    + Male Extinction

    The Book of Knowledge and Witless Wonders: https://lokisrevengeblog.wordpress.com/2020/07/16/the-book-of-knowledge-witless-wonders/

    We have to stop burning 50% of everything in 10 yrs to prevent runaway hothouse mass extinction, which cannot be stopped or reversed once started.

  6. 56
    Al Bundy says:

    Russell,

    It is common knowledge that billionaires are considering options that don’t include your survival. Not saying they want you dead, just that your hide isn’t worth a plugged nickel.

  7. 57

    #49, Russell–

    …have flash mobs of bloodthirsty ecofascist drawbridge environmentalists delivered any performance art on the scale of Extinction Rebellion?

    “Mobs” aside, it depends how you define “scale.” Christchurch, though perpetrated by a lone wolf, was broadcast live on social media, making it a clear (though hideously perverse and evil) act of ‘performance art.’ And if body count is your criterion for scale, well, ER isn’t even in the running.

  8. 58

    Hello everybody, this is Alastair here, the author of Riders on the Storm. At the time of writing this 49 comments have come through moderation so I’d like to offer some responses.

    This excerpt in RealClimate draws on about a quarter of the material in my two chapters, “Sceptics and the Psychology of Denial”, and “Rebellion and Leadership in Climate Movements”. Some of the questions people have raised will be answered in that wider context. What I’d like to do here, is pick out some key points and give brief responses. If my bias turns out to be towards earlier entries, that will be because I’m working through them in numerical order, and some of the later points repeat earlier ones. Also, I am going to focus on points of criticism. These, rather than the points of praise (for which, thank you warmly, also) are what most invite answering.

    2, José. You ask my take on an Earth carrying capacity at 4 – 6C. I can only say, Jose, that throughout this book, and especially in my 3 early chapters that summarise respectively the IPCC’s 3 recent special reports, I explicitly limit my positions to what is said by the consensus expert science. I am not a climate scientist and so feel I have no mandate to go beyond that. I therefore summarise in lay language (relatively) the special reports on The Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC), Climate Change and Land (SRCCL) and Global Warming of 1.5C (SR1.5). I take them in that order, different from their IPCC published order, so I can move from the physical science, into the social science, and from there into the latitude for action. It is my understanding that there is very little of what I think of as consensus expert science on your question. By consensus expert science, I mean science that is looked at in the round by suitably qualified experts and not outlier papers (I do not mean that in the pejorative sense) or science journalism albeit good science journalism, such as Mark Lynas’ book Six Degrees. The bottom line is that nobody would dispute that a 1.5C+ world gets seriously alarming. Thus the Paris Agreement. Equally, the bottom line is that the world looks set on a course that will considerably exceed that. I expect the effects will be dangerous and alarming, but I am not qualified to speculate to what degree. The article to which you link: journalistic sources and unpublished conference reports are one thing, settled science is another. Where the article says: “Anderson may have corrected what was reported [in The Scotsman article], but I have so far not located it,” indeed, he did. He states here that he was mis-reported: https://twitter.com/KevinClimate/status/1106102366942740480?s=20 That is not to suggest he is not extremely alarmed by future scenarios – he is, and rightly so.

    3, David. You say, “I estimate an average of 90 million per year from now through 2100.That’s 6.3 billion as the cumulative total.” I presume you are so saying to back up Roger Hallam’s 6 – 7 billion dead this century claim, a claim of which you’ll see an instance in the BBC HardTalk interview embedded in the article to which Jose linked. However, the figures that you add up are for deaths anticipated because people live and die “naturally”. Of course, the greater part of the nearly 8 billion of us alive today will not see this century out because our three-score-years-and-ten will be up. But Hallam, including where he is talking about war and starvation, is specifically referring to deaths triggered by climate change. This is what he sees as possibly bringing the world’s population down to just a billion. Of course, anything’s possible, but that is why the IPCC works with confidence levels. (For what it’s worth, and tangentially, I don’t think we need to measure human worth or success in terms of population level. When I was born in 1955 world population was only around 3 billion, and was that such a bad thing? Even if the future population settled to one billion – hopefully by falling fertility rather than drastic effects – would that necessarily be a bad thing? I don’t think so. Indeed, part of my pitch in this book is that we need what time we may still have because fertility is falling very rapidly where women are free and improved social standards means there’s less pressure to have large families.)

    5, MA and touching on Al (38), on false equivalence. Personally, I do not think that alarmism has been as damaging as denialism has been. I state in my opening preamble: “Over the past two years especially, concern has also moved to the other end of the spectrum, to alarmism. Both ends, while the latter has been more thinly tapered, can represent forms of denial.” But you and others might well ask: why then, does the book give only 20 pages to the psychology of denial, but then 37 pages to leadership issues in climate movements? My answer is twofold. First, that there’s now a good understanding of denialism. I cite several books on it, like George Marshall, Paul Hoggett (ed) and Oreskes & Conway. But as the veteran Greenpeace campaigns chief Chris Rose points out, alarmism has been much less studied. The second reason, is that I’ve been involved since teenage years in activist movements, both social and environmental. My life has revolved round them. I have published on them. I have published on them. I am passionate about what has worked and has not worked in our efforts to change the world “with no extraordinary power”. What I’ve written in Chapter 6 on climate movements is therefore coming from, and directed to, a much wider base. My bottom line, is that we need to wise-up more to the psychological and (I say also) spiritual dynamics with which we are engaged.

    7, Hervé: Like MA (5), Rasmus (10) and Al (18), you pick up on the way in which I draw on Katharine Heyhoe’s expression about the ridge between denial and alarmism. You make valid point that it is probably a much wider place than I give the impression of it being. I think you are right that the polarisation is more prominent in what the French call “le monde anglo-saxon” – the anglosphere. The context in which I discuss its narrowness – and this comes out in the book more than the excerpt from which I cut large chunks – is that for those in the firing line of holding the ground of consensus expert science, it has indeed been “a narrow and lonely place.” I mentioned earlier Paul Hogget’s edited collection. It’s “Climate Psychology: On Indifference to Disaster” (Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2018). In Riders on the Storm I draw especially on Robert Tollemache’s essay there, “We have to talk about … Climate Change”, and Rosemary Randall’s and Paul Hoggett’s “Engaging with Climate Change: Comparing the cultures of science and activism”. The latter especially brings out the nature of Hayhoe’s “narrow and lonely place”. On pp. 91-92 I quote them: “A study by Rosemary Randall and Paul Hoggett into the emotional impacts of being a climate researcher describes respondents testifying to having become afraid of putting their heads above the parapet. One remarked: ‘There are people out there who watch everything that I say . . . so I feel very threatened and intimidated, and you see it’s changing my behaviour.’24 Spencer Weart, a science historian with the American Institute of Physics, put it like this to the Washington Post: ‘We’ve never before seen a set of people accuse an entire community of scientists of deliberate deception and other professional malfeasance. Even the tobacco companies never tried to slander legitimate cancer researchers.’25” Now, that’s from the denier side, but equally, and as I also discuss, climate scientists get it from the alarmist side who accuse them of underplaying the severity of the problem. A major emphasis of my book is on the dynamics of truth (satya, as in Gandhi’s satyagraha). That is why I round on Michael Mann’s point, that the consensus expert science is quite alarming to be alarming enough. Over-egging the cake only sets the movement up as a straw man. We must try and model response, not reaction.

    8, Thomas, Radge (11) and I think others later see both denialism and alarmism as unhelpful terms. I actually work with a range of terms for the former, including sceptics, contrarians and dismissives. But the nub of their point is about polarisations. Thomas nails the concern: “It is not only skeptics who will drag opponents to the far end of the spectrum, just as it was not only ‘alarmists’ who pushed us into a corner. Don’t let the same happen to your side of the fence.” The tension here is between calling out misleading or wrong uses of science, and trying not to box one another into their positions. It is about how to have dialogue about disagreement about anything. That is why I especially appreciated Kevin (27) saying, “I’d like to re-highlight this as a really good bit:” and going on to re-quote what I sad about important aspects of Bendell’s Deep Adaptation agenda. I wrestled more with writing chapter 6 than any other chapter in the book, and for the very sorts of reasons that you raise, Thomas and Radge. I had a number of advisors read it and took on wide-ranging comments. The bottom line feedback, was that these criticisms (of alarmism) need to be sounded from within the climate movement, since if they’re not, if we stay silent about problems in our own camp, the forces of denial will have a field day. Already that has been the case as is apparent from any reading of the billionaire press over the past couple of years. I found it very hard to do. Again, Hayhoe, thank you.

    12, Mal. You say: “The trouble is that it’s hard to get people exercised about the disappearance of even charismatic megafauna, climate-related or not.” Indeed so. That is why much of my reflection, and not just in chapter 6 on climate movements, is on the politics of climate change and that, building on the political analysis in Chapter 4 of my previous book, “Hell and High Water: Climate change, hope and the human condition” (also from Birlinn, Edinburgh), which though 2008 still contains much that remains current although the science has deepened enormously. A fundamental problem that I explore in Riders is the ease with which we project demands out onto governments and corporations, while not examining our own behaviour, including voting and buying behaviour, that through emergent properties drives their process. Political leadership can only go so far without a willingness at the ballot box to be led in a particular direction. This is why in my writing and speaking on climate change my passion is always to deepen into the psychological and spiritual drivers of behaviour. Bear with me on the latter. I’ll come to that shortly. It’s about what Nigeli (13) says about emphasising the positives that flow from mitigation (and I’d add, albeit ruefully, adaptation also).

    23, Joseph. You ask: “What’s with the subtitle of the book, “The Climate Crisis and the Survival of Being”??? Survival of being? Isn’t that a bit metaphysical? Is “being” at risk?” Thank you for that. I explain in Chapter 7, “To Regenerate the Earth”, that the subtitle comes from the late Raimon Panikkar, who had doctorates in philosophy, chemistry and theology – in that order, way to go! His 1990 Gifford Lectures in natural religion at Edinburgh University concluded on that theme, leading him in their publication 20 years later (The Rhythm of Being, Orbis) delightfully to reprimand him himself, saying: “How can human thinking grasp the destiny of life itself, when we are not its owners?” My direction, in the closing chapters of Riders, is indeed to deepen the climate emergency debate into the metaphysical, indeed, the epistemological and the ontological. This was the main reason why I wrote it, though while so doing, and in having to establish a scientific baseline as a launchpad, COP26 was announced to be held here in Glasgow, Scotland, a mile up the river from where I live, and so I also positioned the book as a primer for that event. Chapter 6 therefore engages very deeply with XR’s use of nonviolence, and I argue that we have to press our understanding of that deeper (forgive me, but I am a Quaker). We have to face “doom” in the etymologically original sense of that word, and come to see that “In our doom is our dharma”, as I put it in the final chapter that hinges on Richard Wilhelm’s and Carl Jung’s “rainmaker” story.

    24, Al, challenges me: “Put yourself in the position of a typical multimillionaire, such as Donald Trump.” Well, Al, I take it a step further than that. You’ll get a preview of how I do so in the book if you take a look at the 5 minute promo video that Opus Earth kindly made for me: https://bit.ly/riders-storm-video. I top and tail the book with a visit last year to my home village on the Isle of Lewis with a delegation of community leaders from West Papua Province on the Indonesian side of New Guinea. We sit down in some old ruins, we make a feast of shellfish gathered, and then the village tradition bearers start to talk about those ruins, and how their forebears were evicted by the then governor of Barbados while still a slave colony, and how one of those families further down the line, born in a traditional thatched “black house” saw their daughter emigrate to NY in 1930 in a backdrop of multiple layers of personal and cultural trauma, and that her son now lives in a White House. I use this to explore 4 Cs. Clearance, collapse, consumption (consumerism) and community. And I do so, in the framework of an appeal to pay good heed to the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals.

    Friends – I am going to have to leave this here. Forgive me, those I haven’t got to, but I think the later critical comments mostly echo these earlier ones. I think I’ve answered your main points and this is all I can give time to as my wife are about to be caught up in family matters for at least the next fortnight (elderly parents). The easiest way for ongoing public interactive engagement is via Twitter on @alastairmci.

    May I add a thank you to Michael Mann of RealClimate. I know him only through his work and occassional correspondence over the past decade, but I am aware that he too shares some of the same concerns about denial and alarmism. I look forward to reading his positions on the matter which he tells me will be in his book, “The New Climate War” that is currently at press. My own take on all these matters is far from fallible. Your critical feedback is therefore helpful. Go well. Alastair.

  9. 59
    Silvia Leahu-Aluas says:

    You are wrong, Alastair, and this debate is futile at this moment in time. It might have been interesting 30 years ago, but now we are clearly, per scientists’ warning, in a climate emergency and all we need to focus on is solutions. Of course, you are free to publish your opinions.

    If there is something worth debating is that “social sciences” are not sciences. Of course, they are legitimate fields of inquiry or study into human existence, its forms of organization and its myriad cultural creations, but there is nothing they can predict. So let’s give as much space as possible to actual sciences to occupy our minds and to guide the humanity to solving the climate emergency, fast and for ever.

    I understand your premise to be: alarmists are similar to denialists. Why would that be? Denialists reject climate science and undermine as aggressively as they can, with dire consequences on climate change mitigation. I am not familiar with the alarmists you mention, as I don’t have enough time to make sure the biosphere and the human civilization will exist for my grandchildren, for the umpteenth generation of humans, for the grandchildren of all species living on the only planet we know of or will ever know capable of sustaining life. From your description, it seems to me that the alarmists might be wrong about outcomes, timeline or both.

    Anybody who has done forecasting for a living knows that you can be right about outcome or timeline, but almost impossible on both. Given the complexity of the Earth’s systems we are forecasting about, I don’t find their errors something remotely consequential as climate science denial, which leads us to the point of no return with 100% probability.

    While we are talking, atmospheric CO2 has reached 414 ppm. The trend continues to be dangerous. Humans and many other species have not evolved to live under such conditions. That is worth being alarmed about, in the most rational way, and take action on.

  10. 60
    Charly Cadou says:

    Over the years I have seen several definitions of the terms “denier”, “denialist” and the like that tell me the definition fluctuates according to the beholder’s leaning on the subject of climate change. I remember in particular the amusing situation of a well known climate scientist accusing another well known climate scientist of being a denier during a House Science Committee hearing on climate science although the second one is far from being a “denier”, only more “lukewarm” than the first.

    So, the question is: Is there an official definition of the term “denier”? Thank you

  11. 61
    Russell says:

    Oxyaena says:
    22 Aug 2020 at 12:22 PM
    @Al Bundy

    Lovely… Makes me yearn for the days of Marx and Engels lol.

    That’s odd– reading Al makes me yearn for the days of McGeorge and William

  12. 62
    John Kelly says:

    Al Bundy, I also thought of Dr. Hansen while reading this, but in a different way. One of the core messages I have taken from his posts this year is that this whole thing remains very solvable, and the alarmism has not been helpful.

  13. 63
    nigelj says:

    Killian @48 says “Mal has never met a middle-of-the-road projection on climate he/she didn’t love.”

    And by my observation, Killian has never seen an extreme projection on climate change he doesn’t love :)

  14. 64
    Mr. Know It All says:

    3 – DB Benson
    Does your 90 million deaths per year have anything to do with CC? FYI, here is the birth per year graph – looks like ~135,000,000 per year until 2100:

    https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/number-of-births-per-year

    Based on that data, it appears the world population will continue to explode for the remainder of this century.

    4 – LC Smith
    “Excellent and well said.”

    Can you (or anyone) summarize what was said in a concise, single paragraph? I could not figure out WHAT he was saying. What is the gist of this article?

    5 – MA Rodger
    “I would humbly suggest that a proper analysis of the achievements of the various nations across this world to tackle AGW is long overdue.”

    I’d humbly prefer to see a proper analysis of the achievements of the various AGW BELIEVERS across this world to tackle AGW. THAT would be very revealing and embarrassing. Let’s start off the list with the most famous AGW preachers – folks like Algore, many Hollyweird celebrities, ALL US Democrat politicians, ALL the billionaire leftist CEOs, and ALL GW scientists themselves, just to name a few.

    11 – Radge Havers
    “Me, I’d like to see science communicators get out in front of the problem and specify in relentless, fairly simple and personal terms what the future holds in store….”

    AOC isn’t a scientist, but she has done exactly as you wish: “The world will end in 10 years” if we don’t pass the GND NOW!!!!! The US Senate took her seriously – they took a vote on the GND – not one senator, not even the sponsors of the bill, voted for it. You can’t make this stuff up.

  15. 65
    Mal Adapted says:

    It took me a while to work through this, so please bear with me. I apologize in advance for lingering typos and copy-pasta. Constructive feedback is appreciated, while slapfighters will be ignored 8^D.

    I consider this post’s author neither a denier nor an alarmist, but a realist. Like many RC readers, he is trained to rely only on intersubjectively verifiable evidence when drawing conclusions about physical reality. That’s why he’s alarmed about anthropogenic global warming, but not an alarmist. Any realist must acknowledge he could be fooling himself, and so Prof. McIntosh does, but reiterates his position (my emphasis):

    There are other sides to the position that I have taken here against alarmism. An activist friend put it to me that what Bendell’s work does is that it pushes a point to make a point. It usefully brings people to the state of breakdown, from where they can break through into the new social norms that are demanded by deep adaptation. It also expresses the precautionary principle. My view, is that if a case can’t be made without it being over-egged, either the case is not valid or those to whom it is being pitched are being spun. Exaggeration or invoking fear and panic only entrenches positions and sets up a backlash. The unembellished science is quite bad enough to be good enough.

    McIntosh refers to a number of professional AGW-denialists, to which add the self-declared lukewarmer Matt Ridley, in 2015:

    I am a climate lukewarmer. That means I think recent global warming is real, mostly man-made and will continue but I no longer think it is likely to be dangerous and I think its slow and erratic progress so far is what we should expect in the future. That last year was the warmest yet, in some data sets, but only by a smidgen more than 2005, is precisely in line with such lukewarm thinking.

    Ridley’s scientific errors five years ago are obvious: with casual disregard for domain-appropriate statistical methods, he invokes the bogus “pause” to justify his new-found optimism that warming will be slow and erratic. Complacently, he “no longer” thinks AGW is likely to be dangerous, waving off the tragedy of those who by 2015 had already lost homes, livelihoods and lives to AGW. One doubts his optimism cooled when GMST smashed all records the following year, and wonders what he makes of the accumulating tragedy attributable to AGW since then. As a lukewarmer, he is transparently in denial, “in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.”

    Then compare McIntosh’s and Ridley’s positions with Roger Hallam’s. As McIntosh tells us:

    Referencing [Hallam’s] claim to ‘one recent scientific opinion’, he warns of 6 to 7 billion people dead as a result of climate change ‘within the next generation or two’. The paper cited as his authority in the footnotes makes no such claim(10). It is purely Hallam’s extrapolation of a 5°C world, given what Common Sense calls ‘the central role of methane in a climate emergency . . . with the system spiralling out of our control and the likelihood of global collapse within a decade or two’. He reiterated the mass dieback claim in a BBC News interview feature, trenchantly insisting: ‘I am talking about the slaughter, death and starvation of 6 billion people this century – that’s what the science predicts.’(11)

    Assuming the author has represented him accurately (+1 for “trenchantly”), it’s fair to characterize Hallam as alarmist relative to the consensus of working climate scientists. Most RC readers recognize his scientific sloppiness, more characteristic of Ridley than McIntosh. He’s not a denier: faced with verifiable evidence that climate change is already dangerous, he accepts it and then some! He appears willing to fool himself about the relative risks of the range of outcomes science projects, not predicts. His unsupported claims may signify an illusion of superiority to the thousands of trained, disciplined climate specialists who’ve put the time in to become experts. OTOH, Hallam may not actually be fooling himself. He may be perfectly well aware he’s out on a scientific limb, but is alarmed enough by the verifiable evidence to advocate urgent collective action by any means necessary. Informed by the precautionary principle and his understanding of how collective decisions are made, he deliberately misappropriates science for rhetorical hyperbole, aiming to impart political urgency sufficient to overcome prevalent public denial.

    So, how is that different from cynical, self-interested denialism àla Ridley, you ask? For one thing, as nigelj says above:

    The climate denialists appear to me to be driven by vested business interests, materialism as mentioned, and libertarian ideology that opposes government regulations and taxes.

    Authors like Hallam may hope to sell books, but tu quoque denialist rhetoric aside, it’s far from clear what other selfish interest is served by climate alarmism. Some committed political leftists who favor broadly collectivist government may ride climate change’s coat-tails, but realistically they’re just straw men for AGW-denialists: more targeted, “market-based” decarbonization options such as carbon fees collected from fossil fuel producers along with border adjustment tariffs on imported goods and fully dividended back to consumers, may address the specific danger of rising GMST more effectively without requiring massive government expansion or lining anyone’s pockets inequitably. Where am I going with all this? As an alarmed realist, wary of fooling myself but fully cognizant of the cautionary principle, I agree with Mike:

    I think hammering away on a trope about alarmism helps maintain the overton window and limits frank discussion of long tail outcome possibilities that might be useful to support appropriate public policy. Cui bono?

    To be fair, alarmism helps maintain the Overton window for urgency too. The difference between climate denialism and alarmism is that there’s no tens of $billions in annual profit in alarmism. From a climate realist’s PoV, the principal benefit of immediate, rapid decarbonization is avoidance of higher future costs due to ever-rising GMST. I’m aware how difficult that is to sell to the public, however, not least because we’re each privately saving money today by socializing our marginal climate-change costs. I’m inclined to moral sympathy with Hallam, Bendell and even McPherson, and I’d love to raise the level of collective alarm. But knowing how easy it is to fool myself, I respect the humility of the climate-science consensus position, and I know damn well I’m not qualified to dispute it in either direction!

  16. 66
    Mr. Know It All says:

    36 – nightgaunt
    “…They will be impossible to convince, they will be adamant in their position because of it. Which means a great difficulty for the rest of us…..”

    If your neighbor is a denier, that does not prevent YOU and ALL AGW BELIEVERS from stopping all use of FFs. There are many multi-billionaire believers that can buy minimal PV systems for the AGW believers who have no money. You can even start a go fund me account. I recommend self-relianc;, why wait for governments to act? If AGW believers stopped using FFs that would immediately cut world emissions by what, 50%?

    37 – Al Bundy
    “..The self-described piece of garbage claims that everything he says is based SOLELY on how pissed off his words will make his intellectual superiors…”

    Sounds like Vic’s strategy is working in your case, Al.

    40 – Al Bundy
    “…Any scientist worthy of the label is ONLY concerned with what folks 1000 years from now would think of their work and conclusions…”

    1000 years? Fake news! HOW DARE YOU! The world will end in 10 years per AOC, and I believe GT.

    41 – mike
    “..I keep apologizing to younger folks about how mindless my generation and the ones before have been wrt ghg emissions. There really is no excuse for what we continue to do on emissions.”

    Yup, we ought to be spanked for so selfishly using FFs to grow our food, keep from freezing to death, getting to and from work, powering a military to keep our enemies away, and raising billions out of abject poverty. Yup, that’s the ticket – a good azz whoopin’!

    42 – KVJ
    “…and degrade the whole society to a level of brutal totalitarianism and chaos like now in Yemen or Lebanon etc…”

    Like many leftist-run US cities for the past 3 months?

    44 – nigelj
    “…The climate denialists appear to me to be driven by vested business interests, materialism as mentioned, and libertarian ideology that opposes government regulations and taxes…”

    Upload a video on youtube showing us your grass hut and piece of land/garden that sustains you and your family.

    45 – Adam Lea
    “…It is going to take an awful lot to convince the wealthy citizens of the world to change their high consumption comfortable lifestyle,…”

    Upload a video on youtube showing us your grass hut and piece of land/garden that sustains you and your family.

    47 – Robert Bradley
    “…Instead, climate-related deaths have declined significantly due in part of an energy-rich society…”

    Uh-oh! You’ve kicked the tar baby now! Better DUCK! Incoming!

  17. 67

    “Robert Bradley says:
    23 Aug 2020 at 8:49 PM”

    Remember that this is the MO of the Robert Bradley from ENRON.

    “Bradley spent nearly 20 years in the business world, including 16 years at Enron, where for the last seven years he was corporate director for public policy analysis and speechwriter for Kenneth L. Lay.[7]”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_L._Bradley_Jr.

  18. 68
    Killian says:

    That’s dacadal tripling+. It has been statedon these fora by… um… me… that such changes were going to come a lot faster than expected.

    You were warned. Still are.

    The OP? I consider the OP massive denial of risk.

    If you’re not alarmed, you don’t understand what’s happening nor what it will take to prevent collapse and mass extinction.

    From 1950-2017, the Mediterranean saw an increase in heatwaves by two days a decade. But the trend from 1980 to 2017 had seen that accelerate to 6.4 days a decade.”

  19. 69
    Piotr says:

    “1 [etc]” (15) “I am too afraid to confront climate change misinformation [because] it would just take 1 person at my job to think it’s their moral duty to get me fired”

    Really? Could you name a few people who lost their jobs in Canada because of their “confronting climate change misinformation”?

    I don’t know in which Canada you live, but in the one I live, climate change deniers are far from being persecuted – having their columns in the National Post and being promoted throughout the Postmedia media conglomerate, and making a quite nice buck on promoting the oil interests. In my Canada, the conservative government of Alberta has funded a $30-million annually operation, called Canadian Energy Centre, aka “Energy War Room”, tasked with the goal to intimidate the critics of the expansion of Alberta’s tar sands.

    So cry me a river on how climate change deniers are in Canada oppressed truth-sayers, living in the fear of being denounced and fired from their jobs. Particularly, that there are many orders of magnitude more money in the climate change denial than it is in alarmism. If you, or your fellow travellers, could prove the climate change to be benign – the global fossil fuel interests would pay you your weight in gold – it would still be a steal compared to the profits you would have saved them.
    So you are like the Sheriff of Nottingham, at least the one that likes to think of himself as being on the side of the weak.

  20. 70
    jgnfld says:

    “Victor: It’s a no-brainer, folks.”

    Pretty much 100% of vic’s posts are.

    I sometimes wonder if the mods don’t keep him around to generate clicks…but that is pure conspiracy thinking. So I generally ignore such thoughts. But since I do have personal knowledge of an owner of a sports board I used to be associated with who did, in fact, maintain a couple of troll sock puppets to generate clicks, I know it CAN happen!

  21. 71
    jgnfld says:

    @47 “Also, John Holdren (according to Paul Ehrlich) predicted…”

    Holdren–and Erlich–were NEVER consensus science. In fact the great debate in the SCIENCE literature (and much social science and economic literature as well) between Erlich and Simon (plus many others on both sides) was pretty much settled with Erlich on the losing side.

    So…really not a good counterexample to the present scientific consensus if you actually look.

  22. 72
    Radge Havers says:

    Alastair McIntosh @ 58

    Thank you for responding!

    I’d be curious to know (I may have missed it) where the term ‘lukewarmer’ fits into your spectrum. I’m thinking that it lies with “the truth is in the middle” crowd between scientists and ‘skeptics’.

    The only remedy is that in our understandable despair and burning yearning for change, we must keep head engaged, as well as heart and hand. We have no mandate to collapse the possibilities of the future, to contract and restrict our latitude for agency and action. Climate change denial is a waste of time. But climate change alarmism is a theft of time.

    Well I’m not sure that ‘alarmism’ is a theft of time so much as maybe a waste of energy. Denialists already think that the science qualifies as alarmism, and will anyway attack anything they don’t like, on any grounds, all the time. And we really don’t know the impact it has, one way or the other, on the remaining margins of persuadable people, who possibly are only half listening to begin with, and who may not care if it’s hyperbole or not. Hyperbole is a dialect for an absurdly noisy world. Definitely not endorsing alt-facts here, but how much of what we think about hyperbole is simply academic conventional wisdom? Just saying that in the grand scheme of things, climate ‘alarmism’ might be a bit player.

    We need people like him and Hallam who, at their most effective, and if they discipline themselves to the settled science, can take an overview of things, drawing out what most matters, contextualising it and presenting it to the public in ways more digestible than the raw IPCC reports.

    Mostly agree–to the extent that the post seems to be descriptive and not prescriptive. But it does sound a little like “if you’d all play nice, everything would work itself out, so why don’t you all just go play nice?” Not sure that’s specific enough to be helpful; not in a world of professional propaganda and conspiracy theories.

  23. 73
    Dan says:

    re: 66.
    “ALL AGW BELIEVERS”
    Another in the long line of red herrings from KIA. For the umpteenth time, junior, science is about hypotheses, data collection, analysis, and peer review. Facts are not a matter of “belief”. Science and data exist regardless of your ignorance about them. The fact that you fail(ed) to learn this is truly an epic example of critical thinking failure. All you do is regurgitate what others tell you simply because you need affirmation for your scientific ignorance.

  24. 74
    nigelj says:

    Robert Callaghan @55 you rightly complain about the fact that progress with renewables is slow, and you suggest we need to cut energy use by 50% within ten years.

    I would suggest progress with your energy reduction goal will be even slower, sadly to say. We just don’t know how to make such radical efficiencies in the use of energy, not in such short time frames, and even if we did, it would require throwing out vast quantities of technology to buy the new more efficient technology, something most people simply cannot afford to do. It also seems unlikely that people will choose to go cold in winter or simply stop using automobiles.

    Unfortunately we just have to find a way of speeding up the deployment of renewables, and hope that people make some efforts to reduce their energy use where it is easy enough to do, like buying smaller cars, or using buses where they are available, and flying less. I think we could speed up the deployment of renewables with a near wartime scale mobilisation. Look at what was achieved in WW2. But of course that wont be easy either because of the scale of change required.

    It’s hard for me to to see any other overall strategy that has a chance of working, unless one believes in miracles.

    ———————————–

    KIA @66

    “…The climate denialists appear to me to be driven by vested business interests, materialism as mentioned, and libertarian ideology that opposes government regulations and taxes…”

    “Upload a video on youtube showing us your grass hut and piece of land/garden that sustains you and your family.”

    We don’t need to live in grass huts to solve the climate problem. Its a strawman argument. We can help by flying less, buying smaller cars where possible and simple things like that which don’t cause a whole lot of pain. If this is combined with developing wind and solar power, and even some nuclear power, we can fix the climate problem.

    ———————————–

    jgnfld @70, you could be right in your click generating theory about Victor. However I suspect the mods keep Victor around because they think his comments are so patently obviously stupid that they are harmless.

  25. 75
    William B Jackson says:

    #64 Mr Know Nothing per your section 11 my understanding is that bill you reference was burdened with certain additions that were intended to make it shall we say dead on arrival!

  26. 76

    AB 54: How much altitude loss is equivalent to 1C of local warming?

    BPL: The lapse rate near the surface averages 4.75 K/km, so about 210 meters.

  27. 77

    RC 55: *There will never be a 100% green energy vegan world ever.*

    BPL: Ever? Prove it. Show your work.

  28. 78

    SLA 59: there is nothing they [social sciences] can predict.

    BPL: They already have, many times. You are clearly unfamiliar with the professional literature. Let me remind you that the modern discipline of statistics was essentially invented by social scientists (with some contribution by biologists and psychologists).

  29. 79

    KIA 64: Algore

    BPL: Automatic fail. Citing Gore in a climate debate is the climate science equivalent of Godwin’s Law. For the thousandth time, Anthropogenic Global Warming theory was not invented by Al Gore. Killing the messenger doesn’t dispose of the message.

  30. 80

    KIA 66: The world will end in 10 years per AOC

    BPL: You keep citing this lie. She never said it. And the figure was 12 years, not 10, unless you’re “updating” it. Her shorthand may have been ill-phrased, but the science behind it was not–the longer we wait to act, the more damage will happen.

  31. 81

    41 – mike
    “..I keep apologizing to younger folks about how mindless my generation and the ones before have been wrt ghg emissions. There really is no excuse for what we continue to do on emissions.”

    KIA 66: Yup, we ought to be spanked for so selfishly using FFs to grow our food, keep from freezing to death, getting to and from work, powering a military to keep our enemies away, and raising billions out of abject poverty. Yup, that’s the ticket – a good azz whoopin’!

    BPL: Straw-man argument. We did not have to be using exclusively fossil fuels for the last 50 years. We could have started to switch in the 1960s, when the issue first came up, or in the 1970s, when we had the energy crisis, or in the 1980s, when global warming started to become a crisis, or in any subsequent decade when things kept getting worse and worse. We do not have to use fossil fuels. It’s a lie to say we do.

    42 – KVJ
    “…and degrade the whole society to a level of brutal totalitarianism and chaos like now in Yemen or Lebanon etc…”

    KIA: Like many leftist-run US cities for the past 3 months?

    BPL: I knew KIA would be for Trump’s view of BLM and the need for secret police and arrests without police ID or Miranda rights. Saw that coming.

    44 – nigelj
    “…The climate denialists appear to me to be driven by vested business interests, materialism as mentioned, and libertarian ideology that opposes government regulations and taxes…”

    KIA: Upload a video on youtube showing us your grass hut and piece of land/garden that sustains you and your family.

    BPL: Straw man again–perhaps KIA’s favorite tactic. Getting rid of fossil fuels does not mean grass huts and peasant farming. Quit lying.

    45 – Adam Lea
    “…It is going to take an awful lot to convince the wealthy citizens of the world to change their high consumption comfortable lifestyle,…”

    KIA: Upload a video on youtube showing us your grass hut and piece of land/garden that sustains you and your family.

    BPL: See above. Quit lying.

    47 – Robert Bradley
    “…Instead, climate-related deaths have declined significantly due in part of an energy-rich society…”

    KIA: Uh-oh! You’ve kicked the tar baby now! Better DUCK! Incoming!

    BPL: No, they have not “declined significantly.” Quit lying.

  32. 82

    KIA, #66–

    If your neighbor is a denier, that does not prevent YOU and ALL AGW BELIEVERS from stopping all use of FFs.

    Tosh! Of course one can reduce one’s own carbon footprint, and one should. (This particular ‘one’ has, and I’m sure many others here have, too.)

    However, one can’t reduce it to zero while still in any way participating in a system which remains reliant on FF. Even Amish, whose lifestyle could in principle be very low-carbon indeed, rely on commodities and implements fashioned and distributed with conventional power. (Greta Thunberg does relatively well, though: no flying, low carbon ground transport as much as possible, no new clothes ever. But it’s still reduction, not elimination. And in passing I note that, IIRC, her ‘reward’ from KIA for doing what he prescribes has been scorn and hate.)

    But even if one could get to zero, it wouldn’t solve the emissions problem unless and until the vast majority of people were of like mind. It would be great if, say, 10% or 50% or 75% of the population were to go ‘personally fossil-free.’ But that would still be just a start. You can’t solve a systemic problem without systemic change.

  33. 83
    James Darling says:

    “It is purely Hallam’s extrapolation of a 5°C world”

    The last time the earth was 5C hotter than today the poles were tropical. If the planet heats up to the point of having tropical climates at the poles within the next 80 years, what would be a reasonable extrapolation for what will happen to human society and civilization, since Hallam’s (and Schellnhuber’s) extrapolation is way off? Do you really think that most people will be fine in that scenario?

  34. 84
    MA Rodger says:

    Charly Cadou @60,
    You talk of “a well known climate scientist accusing another well known climate scientist of being a denier during a House Science Committee hearing on climate science although the second one is far from being a “denier”, only more “lukewarm” than the first.” and you brand this as “amusing.” There are a few climatologists who can be properly be described as ‘deniers’ in that they go out of their way to deny the existence of the bulk of AGW science. Such ‘deniers’ have so frequently appeared on various governmental enquiries that they give the impression of there being many more of them. Yet they are very few.

    You fail to name those involved in this interchange at a Committee hearing while your use of the adjective “lukewarm” to describe both ‘well known climate scientists’ likely indicates that you yourself are in some way in denial over AGW science.

    And perhaps it would not be so presumptive of me to suggest that the accuser in this Committee hearing you describe was one of our hosts here at RealClimate, Michael Mann, who at a 2017 hearing by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology was “rebuked … for using in his written testimony the label of climate science denier against another witness, Judith Curry.”
    Curry is surely a ‘denier’ in that she is wedded to the idea of a big natural wobble being responsible for half the AGW seen since 1970 thus giving a justification for downgrading of the unmitigated impact of future AGW to an ignorable irrelevance. If there were some evidential basis for Curry’s theorising and were it presented as theory and less as fact, Curry’s AGW stance would not be considered as denying the threat of AGW. But the best we have had from Curry evidence-wise is her support for Wyatt’s Unified Wave Theory. Yet that work suggested the melt-out of the Laptev Sea will precipitate a plunging of the NH into a deep cold period and the start of another round of the WUWT process. The Laptev Sea has been melting-out pretty consistently for some years now (may need 2 clicks to ‘dpwnload your attachment’) and the plunging NH temperatures have yet to arrive, not an unexpected outcome, while Curry continues to ruminate on the idea of a toothless AGW while giving space to fellow travellers on her blog, this the stuff of a denier not a scientist.

  35. 85
    Killian says:

    63 nigelj says:
    24 Aug 2020 at 3:51 PM

    Killian @48 says “Mal has never met a middle-of-the-road projection on climate he/she didn’t love.”

    And by my observation, Killian has never seen an extreme projection on climate change he doesn’t love :)

    Yet another lie: I have been outspoken about the NTHE idiots. On these fora.

    Why lie? You seem to thing lies will solve our problems? Please stop thinking that.

  36. 86
    nigelj says:

    Killian @85

    “Yet another lie: I have been outspoken about the NTHE idiots. On these fora.”

    I haven’t seen it. And you provide not evidence. Please provide a link back to such a comment.

  37. 87
    Silvia Leahu-Aluas says:

    BPL 78 It’s not a good idea to state what somebody clearly knows or not, base on some comments, succinct as they have to be. As it happens, I am very familiar with the literature, as I grew up surrounded by such literature. As my father was a professor of sociology and our conversations have centered on this very issue for years. He had the humility to accept and a realistic view that his field was not science. He still practiced it with great passion and intellectual rigor. I almost became one, but then decided to practice real science, as an engineer.

    It does not mean at all that social studies and humanities are not respectable or valuable to our culture and knowledge building. It’s just that they are descriptive, not predictive and too many times completely subjective, ideological and wrong.

    In fact, among the social studies, I consider sociology the most respectable and worth applying in our decisions on how to organize ourselves in groups, how to manage complex intra- and inter-group relationships and how to succeed at it, especially in the current climate emergency. I did myself work in sociological surveys, I did work on populations statistics, as data collection, analysis and decision-making tool, the descriptive type. Not statistics as testing hypotheses in our quest to understand reality as is, scenario playing, prediction, the inferential and predictive type. This latter type of statistics, I practiced, as an engineer, in business forecasting and strategic planning.

    Please give an example of a successful prediction by social studies.

    Back to the topic of alarmism as equivalent to denialism, which I strongly contest.

    “One of the fathers of climate science is calling for a wave of lawsuits against governments and fossil fuel companies that are delaying action on what he describes as the growing, mortal threat of global warming.”
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/nov/17/we-should-be-on-the-offensive-james-hansen-calls-for-wave-of-climate-lawsuits

    “Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to “tell it like it is.” On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.”
    https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/70/1/8/5610806

    Based on these and many other scientific predictions, I am very alarmed that we are not taking timely action. As a grandmother, I am even more alarmed. Let’s get to work.

  38. 88
    Mal Adapted says:

    Charly Cadou (whose cadou R U?):

    Over the years I have seen several definitions of the terms “denier”, “denialist” and the like that tell me the definition fluctuates according to the beholder’s leaning on the subject of climate change. I remember in particular the amusing situation of a well known climate scientist accusing another well known climate scientist of being a denier during a House Science Committee hearing on climate science although the second one is far from being a “denier”, only more “lukewarm” than the first.

    Sigh. CC evinces a lack of scientific meta-literacy. He also appears to harbor the illusion of effortless omnicompetence, when it’s clear to the rest of us he hasn’t put the freakin’ time in on climate science.

    So, the question is: Is there an official definition of the term “denier”? Thank you

    Well, I’m aware of no “official” definition, but my oafishal definition of “global warming denier” is, a person who stubbornly disputes any of three consensus positions:

    1. The globe is warming. Insisting “it’s not happening” is denial;

    2. It’s due to accelerating transfer of geologic carbon to the atmosphere and ongoing damage to natural sinks, both anthropogenic. Saying “it’s not us” is denial;

    3. It’s already exacting a high cost in money and tragedy globally, which is certain to rise with GMST. Arguing “it won’t be bad” is lukewarmism, a species of denial. IMHO, it’s especially odious for people at the apex of privilege to deny only other people’s tragedy.

    Does that help?

  39. 89
    Russell says:

    KmcK;

    Greta Thunberg does relatively well, though:
    no flying, low carbon ground transport as much as possible, no new clothes ever.
    But it’s still reduction, not elimination.

    Will the GND command Climate Leviathan to wear the Emperor’s new clothes ?

    The tories have already got their eye on the low carbon transport ClimateBall-

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2020/08/into-lighter-than-air-junior-telegraph.html

  40. 90
    nigelj says:

    Silvia Leahu-Aluas @59 & 87 says “It does not mean at all that social studies and humanities are not respectable or valuable to our culture and knowledge building. It’s just that they are descriptive, not predictive and too many times completely subjective, ideological and wrong.”

    It’s completely false to say the humanities are not predictive. Psychologists make predictions all the time, for example as below. The predictions in this instance had reasonable accuracy. I did some psychology at university and this is just one example.

    https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J076v25n01_09?journalCode=wjor20

    Economists routinely make predictions on everything from market behaviour, to economic growth, although admittedly with varying success. However this commentary gives some evidence on predictions made and balanced insight:

    https://www.economist.com/graphic-detail/2018/12/15/gdp-predictions-are-reliable-only-in-the-short-term

    I don’t know much about sociology, but a quick google suggests the discipline is predictive to some degree as below:

    https://www.encyclopedia.com/philosophy-and-religion/other-religious-beliefs-and-general-terms/miscellaneous-religion/prediction

    Of course I accept the social sciences overall record of predictions is not as good as with the physical sciences. But its a sweeping claim to say they don’t make predictions or that they always get the predictions wrong ( some people claim this, you didn’t).

    I don’t really see an ideological component in psychology, and I did introductory psychology at university. I also read a standard introductory textbook on economics a couple of years ago out of interest and it didn’t seem ideologically based. However there are certainly “schools of economic thought” that are ideologically based as below.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schools_of_economic_thought#:~:text=Among%20these%20are%20institutional%20economics,arose%20following%20the%20marginal%20revolution.

    I think much of the neoliberal leaning economic dogma should be viewed with some scepticism.

    I broadly agree with your comments on the climate issue, other than to add that extremely alarmists claims of billions dying short term are no more than speculation, and play into the denialists hands.

  41. 91

    #89, Russell–

    Will the GND command Climate Leviathan to wear the Emperor’s new clothes ?

    No–not if I understand you correctly, of which I am far from certain. The Climate Leviathan would be shoehorned into homespun, probably many sizes too small for it. What happens to the Emperor is much less clear.

  42. 92

    S L-A 87: Please give an example of a successful prediction by social studies.

    BPL:

    https://badhessian.org/2012/11/where-are-the-predictions-in-sociology/

    https://www.jstor.org/stable/2782683?seq=1

    STARK, R. (1990) ‘Modernization, Secularization, and Mormon Success’, in T. Robbins and D. Anthony (editors), In Gods We Trust. New Brunswick: Transaction, 201 – 218.

    STARK, R. (1996) ‘So Far, So Good: a Brief Assessment of Mormon Membership Projections’, Review of Religious Research, Vol. 38, No. 2, 175 – 178.

    STARK, R. (1998) ‘The Basis of Mormon Success: a Theoretical Application’, in J. T. Duke (editor), Latter-day Saint Social Life: Social Research on the LDS Church and its Members. Provo: Brigham Young University, 29 – 70.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-36675260

    It took me all of 90 seconds to come up with these examples.

  43. 93

    Radge, hello again, and here are 3 v quick responses to your points above. Also, apologies that I’ve not been able to go through all other points closely, just limitations on time, but thank you all, and I have read all.

    1. You ask where I would place “lukewarmers” on the specturm between denialism and alarmism. I would put them perniciously in the denier camp. I say perniciously, because by appearing to bend with the wind they carry on undermining action while giving the impression of being onside. Having said that, facing up to the scale of action needed is very hard, and so I do understand where they’re coming from.

    2. Several of you incl. Radge picked up on my comment about denial being a waste of time but alarmism is a theft of time. The fact that this excerpt summarises 2 chapters of the book down to a quarter of their length misses the subtlety built into that. By a waste of time, I mean simpy that denial wastes time that should be spent on action. By a theft of time, I mean something more complex: that by making out that the crisis is as imminent as mass dieback or extinction within the next few decades, we get jump started into short term solutions, like SRM geoengineering, or check-out despair (as a non solutions). We abandon ship and take to the lifeboats because we think she’s going to go down in the next 20 mins. However, if we realise we’ve got a couple of hours still, with all hands to the pumps, that allows for longer term approaches, ergo what I say about the UN’s Sustainable Development goals and the product of population and consumption elserwhere in the book (don’t worry, I’m not advocating “population control”, but I am advocating women’s emancipation and socila justice.).

    3. You hint that I’m perhaps being too nice to figures like Roger Hallam. I get what you mean. I wrestled with how to say what I said. But to me, this is about trying not to push each other into corners from which there is no exit. It’s about treating each other firmly but with respect, and leaving each other enough space to breathe and grow, and to learn from one another in the process, not least in deepening our mutual humanity.

    I’m sorry, I must leave it there. We are on holiday and my wife is wisely about to confiscate my computer for the next week. All the very best, Alastair.

  44. 94
    Al Bundy says:

    Isn’t it amazing how Stupid climate scientists are? Like, this “news” could have been written 40 years ago by any kid with an above room temperature IQ.
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-climate-change-arctic-shipping-analys-idUSKBN25O0L8

    DUH!, eh?

    But ZERO scientists included the blatently obvious in their predictions.

    Why?

  45. 95
    Victor says:

    80 Barton Paul Levenson says:

    KIA 66: The world will end in 10 years per AOC

    BPL: You keep citing this lie. She never said it. And the figure was 12 years, not 10, unless you’re “updating” it. Her shorthand may have been ill-phrased, but the science behind it was not–the longer we wait to act, the more damage will happen.

    V: Excuse me? https://youtu.be/r_ovC0N3qfE?t=11

    “Her shorthand may have been ill-phrased” ???? I have no idea what that sentence is supposed to mean. And yes, she said “12 years,” not 10. Sorry but that does not make her any less clueless.

  46. 96
    Al Bundy says:

    To sum up:

    Why is it that climate scientists fervently abide by the belief (whether they agree or not) that ALL science should utilize the default (null?) that “Climate Change is a Hoax”?
    It makes no sense to me.
    You guys ALWAYS fudge everything towards “moronic Religious Beliefs”. Why? Cuz you’re p**sies who can’t take a punch?

    Well, you p**sies are just choosing who punches, the evil or the good.
    Your choice to be punched by the good is putrid.

  47. 97
    Andy Sipocz says:

    This article seems appropriate. Biome residence time, recovery time (resilience) and climate change.

    https://e360.yale.edu/digest/north-american-biomes-are-losing-their-resilience-with-risks-for-mass-extinctions

  48. 98
    Al Bundy says:

    Alistair,
    Maybe you had something of value to offer. But prefixing it with tremendous amounts of goop made me scroll through.

    You got something to say? Say it. Laconically.

  49. 99
    Al Bundy says:

    Robert C: To get 30% of energy from algae would take a country the size of Argentina.

    AB: Cool. Argentina is way small. I presume you are claiming how easy it would be.

  50. 100
    Karsten V. Johansen says:

    #60 Charly Cadou: you search a definition of “denialist”. I myself think the term is misleading: what those people is not “deny climate”, noone does that except those without any knowledge whatsoever, here maybe Trump is a good example, when he said: “It just changes all the time, it’s called the weather”. Trump denies that there even exists something you can call climate… he is more of what the ancient greeks meant by the word “idiot”. Trump represents the clearcut unenlightened absolutism of the moneyed classes, as did before him the former leading mafiaappointed unionbusting union leader for the Hollywood actors since the thirties, Ronald Reagan, as he became president via among other tricks the Iran-Contras affair: The ayatollah promised Reagan not to let the american hostages free, until Carter had lost the election. For doing this, the ayatollah was payed in among other things weaponry. At the same time Reagan (“vice”president Bush I…) was approaching Saddam Hussein (who’s coup d’etat 1979 in Iraq was aided by the CIA) to get him to attack Iran, and succeeded.

    All this was and still is, about oil and via that: world power. In 1978 glaciologist John H. Mercer wrote the article “West Antarctic ice sheet and CO2 greenhouse effect, a threat of disaster”. The above tells us all there is to know about why nobody in power paid any real attention to Mercers warning. Carter maybe some (cfr. the report “Global 2000”), Reagan and all his successors: none whatsoever. Shell suppressed it’s own internal precise scientific report warning about the dangerous consequences of fossil fuel use. The “realpolitik” was expressed by later “vice”president (another one!) above the ignorant Bush ll, Dick Cheney: “He who controls the strait of Hormuz, has got the world by the balls”. It’s all about the oil and via that about world power.

    Without oil, the whole productivity illusionism is severely threatened. Explanation by Jeffrey S. Dukes:”Next time you fill up at the petrol station, ponder this figure – it took over 23 tonnes of plants to produce each and every litre of petrol you pump into your tank.” https://plus.maths.org/content/burning-buried-sunshine

    When our leading lights began to expand industrial production by means of fossil fuels, mankind unwittingly fell into a gigantic thermodynamic trap, constructed by the “smartness before wisdom” morality Trump represents, just as his endless queue of predecessors, so to speak as their conclusion.

    Now we are facing the results. Here we have a very early predecessor of Trumpian , the french king 1834, doing what Trump is trying to do now:

    https://harrisschrank.com/the-farce-is-over.htm

    So to conclude: we need no special definition of the people who fight for keeping us all deep in shit, trapped in the destruction of our very own ecological basis.

    It’s simply: the oiligarchy army.

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