The darkest hour is just before dawn so they say. The dark night of the soul precedes the awakening to everlasting light and eternal spiritual enlightenment. In the depths of Winter, at the mid winter solstice, Lady Luck pirouettes on a dime midway through her celestial sun-earth dance, the balance of the seasons tips north once again and new hope springs from despair, new life springs from the icy jaws of death, as the days, instead of getting shorter, colder and darker, grow longer and brighter.

Hope is not required as such. The process is entirely mechanical, predictable, inexorable. Spring, then Summer, will come, barring the vanishingly small possibility of a celestial catastrophe or sudden global cataclysm. Weather and climate is not like that. It is often chaotic, random, unpredictable, capricious. Thus, even now, it will probably get colder and bleaker, before it gets warmer. Winter is like that. We can predict the weather, with reasonable accuracy, just a few days ahead, but the chaotic nature of the complex dynamical system which determines our weather, combined with our inability to 100% precisely determine the current weather (initial conditions) forever hampers the quality, range and usability of our forecasts. But climate is different again; Dr Marvel knows what the future will be, which is why she is so gloomy and pensive on a dark Christmas morning, sitting on a train, being whisked in comfort through the “post industrial New Jersey wastelands”, sipping cheap coffee from a paper cup. Dr Marvel is a climate scientist.

She also knows what the climate present is, and she is alarmed:

This year wildfires became domesticated, inviting themselves into the homes of the wealthy and the poor. Lagoons of pig feces overflowed in the rains of Hurricane Florence, smearing the countryside and water supplies with a pink sludge of untreated waste. The entire Northern Hemisphere baked in the summer heat. The U.N. warned about the consequences of failing to curb warming, while the National Climate Assessment told us what was coming and what was already here.

She is fearful because she believes that knowledge of the climate present (bad weather and a planet on average 1C warmer than it was 150 years ago) is a reliable guide to the climate future. But climate isn’t like that. Predicting the climate, unlike predicting the weather (which climate scientists are most keen to attribute to a changing climate) is a boundary value problem, not an initial value problem. Hence, whatever climate scientists may think about the ‘current’ climate, it does not determine the future climate. Our climate future is dependent upon an intimate knowledge of the amount of energy received from the sun, the amount of energy radiated back into space from the earth, the amount of energy absorbed or emitted from oceans and land surfaces, and so on. Kate and her fellow climate miserabilists think they have this all worked out (to a reasonable degree of accuracy); thus their continued and exhaustive ‘expert’ public pronouncements around the basic theme that ‘We’re all doomed unless . . . . . ‘ The ‘unless’ part, according to the latest UN IPCC report, being the complete shakedown of the global economy to achieve zero carbon dioxide emissions by the mid 21st century.

Kate and her fellow climate scientists think that climate (and increasingly weather) are in the palm of Man, that future woe is revealed, a hot, sweaty, disaster-filled future glimpsed darkly through their crystal ball, but that they have in that same hand the power to cast a new ray of hope through that miraculous crystal globe such that it registers a brighter climate future.

Of course the climate is changing, say the politicians. But we don’t know why. It’s a mystery, an unknowable natural cycle that we have no power to stop. Imagine believing this (I don’t think for a minute they do). Imagine the terror you’d feel confronting a force of nature completely beyond your control. You’d rapidly go through all the stages of grief until you reached the bargaining phase. I’ve been there, after the terrible phone call or car accident, my mind cycling through what-ifs and could-have-beens, desperate for a reprieve that will never come.

The bold is mine. It goes to the heart of what makes climate catastrophists tick, I believe. It is the belief that we can control the weather and climate. It is the abject primeval fear that we are not able to control the weather and climate, that it is in the hands of capricious Mother Nature and that therefore we are powerless to prevent bad stuff happening. For 2 million years of human evolution, we have been powerless to prevent bad stuff happening: civilisations have risen and fallen, famines and plagues have killed millions, simply because we were powerless to stop bad stuff happening, simply because the weather and the climate were governed entirely by powerful natural forces beyond our control. It’s left a deep scar in our collective human subconscious. But everything changed when climate science™ came into being. Suddenly, we gained complete control over our climate destiny, if only the climate seers could convince the world to act. Hope sprung anew, even if it was rather pale and sickly.

It’s true that we’re not going to get utopia. The planet has already warmed by one degree Celsius. Most of the coral reefs are going to die, and many of the glaciers will melt. Climate change is here, leaving grubby human fingerprints on parched, burned, flooded and melted landscapes. But we don’t have to settle for dystopia. It’s going to be worse, but it doesn’t have to be bleak. We can have a “topia,” an ordinary future where we go about ordinary lives in cities on stilts, missing what we’ve lost but looking forward to better things. There is light in the future that doesn’t come from burning.

Hope, said Emily Dickinson, is the thing with feathers. I have never understood this poem. Hope does not keep me warm, nor is it always there. Hope is not comfortable. It demands things, drains you, makes you sad and anxious. Hope is the knowledge that we can prevent bad things, and the realization that we might choose not to.

It’s a cold, grey morning here, sliding into a cold grey afternoon. I’m sipping tea, from a china cup, looking out across a rural ‘wasteland’ of water-logged muddy fields and sad looking hedgerows. I have hope that Spring will be warm and bright (and dry!) – maybe even as good as it was last year. But I doubt it, because the weather, from one season to the next, is chaotic, unpredictable and uncontrollable. As regards our climate future, I might as well be standing at the gates of Dante’s Inferno for all that Hope is worth:

Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter Here


  1. There are important credible studies measuring sharp declines in the IQ of many in the West.
    Kate certainly seems to be a poster child for this unfolding tragedy.
    Pointing out that she is deceptive about forest fires seems pointless: she and the audience who mistakenly think she is writing something wise don’t care.
    All that matters is that a small town burned and CO2 is up.
    That is as obviously a correlation as a duck floating means the accused is a witch, to Kate and her audience.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hunter

    have rising plant-food levels in the atmosphere flipped the Flynn effect in a classic case of unintended, incoherent consequences?


  3. Jaime, this is a keeper. Your astronomy is upside down but never mind, I will read it again in half a year minus five days (and with even greater pleasure).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey, Brad, my astronomy can’t be upside down because, in space, there is no ‘up’ and there is no ‘down’ and nobody can hear you scream either. Of course, my geography might be upside down, but then again, you live in Australia!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I had assumed Kate’s essay was taken from some obscure blog. But it’s published in Scientific American! Can she really be a “climate scientist”? “We have to stop flooding and wildfires” say the true believers.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is the mindset of people like Kate or ATTP : hope makes you miserable because it implies that things can happen outside your direct control. Quite what kinds of mental breakdowns they go through when a train is cancelled or someone falls over would be amazing to behold. Why are they allowed to step outside the lab unchaperoned? Why, anything might happen and, if it does, you will be faced with a screaming climate nutjob

    Liked by 1 person

  7. On the subject of climate change, abject primeval fear and related woes, have a read of this (h/t Climate Depot):

    ‘When the U.N. released its latest climate report in October, it warned that without “unprecedented” action, catastrophic conditions could arrive by 2040. For Amy Jordan, 40, of Salt Lake City, a mother of three teenage children, the report caused a “crisis.” “The emotional reaction of my kids was severe,” she told NBC News. “There was a lot of crying. They told me, ‘We know what’s coming, and it’s going to be really rough.'” She struggled too, because there wasn’t much she could do for them. “I want to have hope, but the reports are showing that this isn’t going to stop, so all we can do is cope,” she said. The increasing visibility of climate change, combined with bleak scientific reports and rising carbon dioxide emissions, is taking a toll on mental health, especially among young people, who are increasingly losing hope for their future. Experts call it “climate grief,” depression, anxiety and mourning over climate change.’

    There’s reference to a support group:

    “Through a variety of techniques, we facilitate the metabolization of heavy feelings which puts us at risk for burnout, falling into despair, ecoanxiety, or depression. We build psychosocial resilience to help each person uncover their greatest strengths and determine how best to contribute to the world we want to co-create. We provide tools and an encouraging community that helps overcome denial, and prevent hopelessness, helplessness, activism fatigue, and burn out. These tools are necessary for anyone looking to sustain themselves for the long haul.”

    Also: “GOOD GRIEVERS treasure critical thinking, nuanced dialogue, and coloring outside of the lines.” And: “Open minds, respect, and integrity are required.”

    Well yes, critical thinking is always recommended when it comes to climate change… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh yes, the eco-anxious can sign up for digital climate coaching sessions for just $15-$35 ‘donation’ per session. There’s nothing quite like handing over money to snake oil charlatans to soothe one’s fears about the future of human civilisation and the planet.


  9. Jaime I think you are being over critical. These good people are exercising their deity-given ‘merikan rights to recycle. Hell, in the past the medical profession (or hair-cutters) bled their patients; today bleeding continues without fear of infection and, if you’re really fortunate, you don’t get a haircut.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Kate Marvel and other climate grievers would probably benefit from a stint in a Grief Composting Circle. This is where you sit in a circle on the floor in the dark and tell each other sad stories about the planet while someone bangs a drum. This ritual composts your eco-grief so that it can fertilize your life. Or something like that. The details are a bit vague.

    The Grief Composting Circle was devised by XR-supporter Azul-Valérie Thomé. She says it is similar to a weekly grief ritual held by the Dagara people of Burkina Faso but it probably isn’t – that ritual seems not to exist. Circles are offered every month in a yurt (where else?) in Totnes (ditto). Participation costs only £15 for three and a half hours. Of sitting on the floor. In the dark. Listening to misery. Bargain!

    Azul has also devised something called the WomBelt. This isn’t specifically about coping with eco-grief but there’s lots of grief in it and there are some eco elements. She devised the WomBelt shortly after receiving a message from the River Dart* telling her to forget about saving nature and get on with saving the human race by bringing it back to nature. It’s a belt that women weave while sitting in a circle telling each other sad stories about their wombs. It costs a bit more than the Grief Composting Circle – £75 to £95 per person – but it’s not held in the dark and it lasts a whole day (sometimes two) and you get a belt out of it.

    Like many XRers, Azul does a lot of travelling, so perhaps next year she’ll be offering Grief Composting Circles and WombBelts somewhere within reach of Kate Marvel and other North American climate grievers.

    Or perhaps Kate could fly to Totnes and sign up for a Grief Composting Circle apprenticeship. The training takes six days in all and, I think, costs £880:

    At first glance, flying across the Atlantic to attend two three-day courses might not seem like responsible behaviour for a climate scientist who is very worried about climate change but Kate Marvel seems to think that doom is already with us, so, for her, learning how to host her own Grief Composting Circles might be a better response to climate change than keeping a few measly tonnes of CO2 out of the atmosphere.

    *Here is Azul talking to XR co-founder Simon Bramwell about the message she received from the River Dart:

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Wombelts – I thought you only found them on Wimbledon Common, not in Totnes Think I’ll email and find out if they have the Uncle Bulgaria version.


  12. What is it with ‘circles’

    here is a more positive/worshipful one for Phil Jones, from the Jo Abbess (BBC’s Roger Harrabin bete noir) classic Realclimate climategate comment…

    “devotional circle”

    “I would like to propose that we form a “Phil Jones Devotional Circle”, and put a nice logo on our personal and organisational websites, linking through to a page here at RealClimate (or elsewhere) that extols the virtues of said Phil Jones, and catalogues his many great achievements.

    That, at least, could warm Phil Jones’ heart, in letting him know how much we value and support him. If those suffering from septicaemia choose another target, we should have a “We Love…” page for them as well. I think it’s about time we had a page explaining just how much we venerate and adore Michael Mann, for example. And James Hansen. And Malte Meinshausen. And Tom Wigley… There’s such a long list…

    Over Easter, I was reflecting on the work of J. S. Bach in his Johannespassion, based on Chapters 18 and 19 of the Gospel of John. So many parallels to the campaign to denigrate, humiliate and crucify Phil Jones…including that immortal, mocking question “What is truth ?”…

    We could perhaps entitle our Phil Jones page “Der Jonespassion” ? Or “Stations of the Climate” or somesuch ? Or is that going a tad too far ?” – Jo Abbess


  13. Hunter,

    “There are important credible studies measuring sharp declines in the IQ of many in the West.
    Kate certainly seems to be a poster child for this unfolding tragedy.”

    Notwithstanding one can’t say anything about the intelligence of a particular individual, and whatever is happening regarding IQ in the West generally, widespread belief in cultural narratives such as climate catastrophism is not now or has ever been due to lack of intelligence. Any more than is the case for religious narratives, for instance. If that was the case, this climate catastrophe thing would never have made it out of the nursery stage. Within the many millions of grass roots supporters up to thousands of elite, there’s a multitude of highly intelligent individuals, and no less intelligence on average. Jaime has it dead right; emotive engagement, fear + hope and other such emotive cocktails, are the driver for this. Indeed Kahan’s data shows that the more domain knowledgeable and cognitively capable people are, the *more* not less polarised they are on socially conflicted science issues, supporting the position (among other complications) that intelligence can indeed be a slave to emotive belief. And yet mainly confined to the domain of belief, so outside that domain the chains are withdrawn. When committing to group consensuses became a net evolutionary advantage, selection took and reinforced the tools to hand to ensure group consensuses were supported come what come may (albeit safe-gaurds against abuse also developed). Those tools to hand were fear and hope and various other emotions already established. It works right down at brain architecture level. Disconcertingly this means all of us are vulnerable, and immunity in one domain does not confer immunity in another.


  14. Alex,

    Seems bang on topic to me. Fraser has it exactly backwards. Climate catastrophism is vying to become one of our big mythic tales, and has in part at least succeeded. In a world without science, mythic tales are indeed needed to keep groups coherent; nor are we likely able to live completely without them yet (knowing much more about our world doesn’t mean everyone agrees where to steer, hence some cultural consensus still required). But the emotive grip of these tales forms a powerful resistance to science. The consensuses they propagate are emergent via emotive selection, and that mechanism is incompatible with producing truth, their one purpose is glue not any grounding in reality. If Cowslip’s troop have no enterprise of science, then indeed they’re at an organisational disadvantage without the old stories; if however they’ve succeeded in founding such an enterprise, de-emphasising the stories to let its output prosper would be very beneficial.

    Fraser ought to be worrying that this mythic tale is serious competing with his own, but the majority of priests don’t seem to have reached that realisation yet, and anyhow alliance may be a better option, certainly it means they can slip with ease into blaming everyone for being selfish now twice over.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Alex,

    “And this is the warning of Watership Down. Those who try and do without a wider story of who we are and what we’re here for, may well find it hard to summon the moral enthusiasm for dealing with threats to future generations. For in order to tackle the threat of climate change we first need to feel a part of a story in which the world’s meaning does not just revolve around me.”

    Andy says it: “Fraser has it exactly backwards”. It is precisely the lack of a wider story (a wider perspective on human survival and adaptation to climate change far worse than that which we have experienced so far, informed by the latest scientific evidence and enquiry) that is the problem here. Man-made climate change catastrophe (informed by age old eschatological impulses) is supplanting the ‘old stories’, the myths, the tales of suffering and upheaval, of mass loss of life and the breakdown of society due to environmental change, which have been handed on to us over the generations and are, in a very real sense, hard-wired into the human psyche. Kate and her ilk can’t abide the fact that those past climate change catastrophes were entirely beyond our control, so they have created a new science-lite myth (which nevertheless masquerades as science), whereby humanity is its own climate/environmental catastrophe, with the huge bonus of a ‘get out clause’ if only we can amend our evil ways.

    There is no argument from me that we are capable of adversely affecting the environment and causing real and lasting ecological harm. My argument is whether we are able to compete on a global scale with the natural forces which drive our weather and climate. I think not – at present. Judith Curry’s study on sea-level rise tends to confirm this argument, as least as far as sea level rise is concerned.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Barry, Is there another Phil Jones who Jo Abbess is speaking about? Surely not the detestable oik who wished me a happy retirement, lost research materiel gauche et droite, and encouraged others to eliminate emails? Devotional circles? – made me want to upchuck.


  17. Sorry to sound like a broken record, but Kate has a problem and she can get help. Though in the process she may stop channeling Sylvia Plath and lose Cassandra as her muse.

    Fortunately, there is help for climate alarmists. They can join or start a chapter of Alarmists Anonymous. By following the Twelve Step Program, it is possible to recover and unite in service to the real world and humanity.

    Step One: Fully concede (admit) to our innermost selves that we were addicted to climate fear mongering.

    Step Two: Come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves causes weather and climate, restoring us to sanity.

    Step Three: Make a decision to study and understand how the natural world works.

    Step Four: Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves, our need to frighten others and how we have personally benefited by expressing alarms about the climate.

    Step Five: Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our exaggerations and false claims.

    Step Six: Become ready to set aside these notions and actions we now recognize as objectionable and groundless.

    Step Seven: Seek help to remove every single defect of character that produced fear in us and led us to make others afraid.

    Step Eight: Make a list of all persons we have harmed and called “deniers”, and become willing to make amends to them all.

    Step Nine: Apologize to people we have frightened or denigrated and explain the errors of our ways.

    Step Ten: Continue to take personal inventory and when new illusions creep into our thinking, promptly renounce them.

    Step Eleven: Dedicate ourselves to gain knowledge of natural climate factors and to deepen our understanding of nature’s powers and ways of working.

    Step Twelve: Having awakened to our delusion of climate alarm, we try to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.


    With a New Year close at hand, let us hope that many climate alarmists take the opportunity to turn the page by resolving a return to sanity. It is not too late to get right with reality before the cooling comes in earnest.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. In China, human sourced compost is called “night soil”, and produces strong growth.
    If grief composting over climate concern could contribute to plant growth, then we would have found the first productive use for climate concern. Although the cost of composted climate concern would make it uncompetitive with composted cow manure.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Best selling Italian feminist novelist Elena Ferrante in (where else?) the Guardian:

    “What we learn when we’re young is difficult to correct. So for a while I calmed myself, by embracing the opinion that climate change had always been there and that man had very little to do with its latest manifestations. All very wrong: I kept reading, and I repented.

    And now I’ve become obsessive. I repeat to friends and relatives: the sea level is rising, the ice is melting, greenhouse gases are increasing, the atmosphere is warming, and it’s our fault, the fault of the way of life and production imposed on us: it has to be changed immediately. Mainly, though, my lighthearted pleasure in the seasons has disappeared. Now I hate these eternal summers, I’m afraid of the furious heat that starts early and won’t end. And the black skies with the rain cascading down terrify me, making streets into rivers, burying people and things under the mud.”

    Activist climate scientists and Greens have a lot to answer for; they’ve created a whole generation of mentally ill climate obsessives who cannot shrug off bad weather or even enjoy good weather.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. “This year wildfires became domesticated…” Kate got a woodburner for Christmas I see. As to the lagoon of ordure, how is this to be blamed on good ol’ CO2? What was the next horseman of the apocalypse? Yes, the hot summer. Well, in the UK at least a reasonable proportion of folks preferred it over our usual fare. Maybe it was too hot elsewhere. But it is a little maladroit to tell people who are too cold most of the time that they should be cursing a month of heat.

    A dark and dismal day? Because CO2?

    SciAm used to be second tier. Along with Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc. Lond., it nestled firmly in the crotches of the terrible two, Nature and Science in the Pyramid of Scientific Authority and Power. Of course, it didn’t have blogs then. But I have a suggestion for its publisher: a little rebranding might be in order. I’m feeling “Emotional American” should hit the right spot.

    Liked by 4 people

  21. Kate is a really sad case and yet she thinks she is an objective scientist, which makes it even worse. If you read her blog, her followers are in a very bad place and she is feeding their fears with her own nightmares. The picture on her web page shows her in “Save the World” pose, and she states “I am a Climate Scientist.” I think her Sc(i)-Am piece is based on this:
    She is very ‘umble…”I understand the physical world because, at some level, I understand the behavior of every small thing.”

    She has lost it, big time:
    “We are inevitably sending our children to live on an unfamiliar planet. But the opposite of hope is not despair. It is grief. Even while resolving to limit the damage, we can mourn. And here, the sheer scale of the problem provides a perverse comfort: we are in this together. The swiftness of the change, its scale and inevitability, binds us into one, broken hearts trapped together under a warming atmosphere.”

    She has succumbed to Circular Reasoning Disease (CRD), described here by Professor Jamal Munshi:

    “Circular reasoning is a logical fallacy in which research design and methodology as well as the
    interpretation of the data subsume the finding. This fallacy can be found in published research and it
    is more common in research areas such as archaeology, finance, economics, and climate change
    where the data are mostly time series of historical field data with no possibility for experimental
    verification of causation.

    In biased research of this kind, researchers do not objectively seek the truth, whatever it may turn out to be, but rather seek to prove the truth of what they already know to be true or what needs to be true to support activism for a noble cause (Nickerson, 1998). Such confirmation bias or yearning (Finkelstein, 2011) is found in research areas related to religion or to activism.

    Confirmation bias is thought to play a role in climate change particularly since climate science provides the rationale for environmental activism and the noble cause of saving humanity or perhaps the planet from climate cataclysm (Kaptchuk, 2003) (Nicholls, 1999).

    This hidden hand of activism plays a role in the way climate research is carried out and in the way findings are interpreted and disseminated (Cooper, 2006) (Britt, 2001) (Bless, 2006) (Juhl, 2007) (Watkins, 2007) (VonStorch, 1995) (Enright, 1989) (Britt, 2001) (Hodges, 1992) (Curry, 2006).”

    More of Professor Munshi’s papers are accessible from the page. (You may have to register, free)

    Another Kate, Katherine Hayhoe,, uses both religion and activism to push her climate cause. As with Kate Marvel, she states “I am a Climate Scientist” and she knows how to save the planet. I notice she is also described in Wikipedia as a political scientist, how true.

    Something to do with scientists being called Kate?


  22. Marvel will probably melt down pretty soon. Sort of like that YouTube hero who used to dress up as some sort of court jester and deployed the same pathetic circular excuse for reasoning as Marvel.
    Hayhoe is just a seller of religious dispensations and is likely to last longer SS she can pretend to believe in a higher power. Just like any other televangelist.
    I think I found her spiritual inspiration:

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.