One way in which the climate debate has changed in the last year or so is the emergence of a kind of “climate death cult”. This was always there in the background (see this comment from Andy West on my previous post) but recently has come into the mainstream media, with widespread talk of “extinction” and bogus claims of an “emergency“.
The latest example is a “paper” by two Australian members of the death cult, saying that there’s a good chance of human civilisation coming to end. Needless to say, these two con-men, David Spratt and Ian Dunlop, are both cashing on the cult with books to sell, and of course the UK media is giving them huge publicity and raising no questions.
But what is perhaps even worse is the response – or lack of – from the climate science community. As far as I am aware, not a single UK climate scientist has explicitly called out this bullshit, even though David Rose has specifically asked them about it. One of those Rose asked is promoting his vacuous graphics, while another seems to be too busy attacking Donald Trump.
I have found one climate scientist, Ryan Maue, who seems to care about disinformation being fed to the public and is prepared to call it out. What a pity that we don’t have any climate scientists with courage and integrity here in the UK.
So let’s hear it for Mike Hulme, formerly a climate scientist at UEA, but now working on the sociology and politics side of things in the Geography Department at Cambridge. He’s a man of conscience, honesty and integrity, who wrote a very good book called Why we disagree about climate change, where, for example, he acknowledges that his own political views influenced his views on climate change.
Hulme has written an article on his blog, Am I a denier, a human extinction denier? As well as challenging the extinction/emergency narrative, he plays with the ‘denier’ label. Below are a couple of excerpts, but please go to his site and read his whole article.
There has been a lot of talk recently about climate change and extinction.
It is undoubtedly the case that species go extinct. And sometimes large numbers of species disappear together in mass events caused by the same physical stresses. It is also true that at some point in the future the human species will go extinct, or at the least evolve into a new species partly of our own making.
Yet I resist the current mood of ‘extinctionism’ which pervades the new public discourse around climate change. Talking about the future in this way is counter-productive. And it does a disservice to development, justice, peace-making and humanitarian projects being undertaken around the world today.
A denier is a person who denies something, “… who refuses to admit the truth of a concept or proposition that is supported by the majority of scientific or historical evidence.” If I do not believe that climate change will drive the human species to extinction, does that make me an extinction denier? For I do not believe that there is good scientific or historical evidence that climate change will lead to human extinction…
This rise in extinction rhetoric in (largely) English-speaking societies over the past 12 months is in part linked to the IPCC’s Special Report on 1.5C Warming published last October. The slogan “we have only 12 years left” has somehow been extracted from this Report and feeds the rise of climate clocks such as this one from the Human Impact Lab in Montreal. But the IPCC Report offers neither scientific nor historical evidence for human extinction.
From this extinction fear arises the “panic” that Greta Thunberg has called for. Panic demands a response and one response is to declare an emergency. ‘Climate emergencies’ are now being declared in jurisdictions ranging from universities, the British Parliament and several local authorities in the UK.
But the rhetoric of extinction and emergency does not adequately describe the situation we find ourselves in. Declaring a climate emergency implies the possibility of time-limited radical and decisive action that can end the emergency. But climate change is not like this. The historical trajectory of human expansion, western imperialism and technological development has created climate change as a new condition of human existence rather than as a path to extinction.