What a real crisis looks like

I want to argue that the Covid-19 pandemic looks like a real crisis in a way that man-made global warming (AGW) doesn’t. And that our aim as climate sceptics should be to make AGW look like a real crisis.

Not to make AGW be a real crisis – that I think is not within anyone’s power – but to force our leaders to make it look like one.

Make sense? I wasn’t expecting it to. Not yet.

The obligatory Churchill

Most people would agree that the UK faced a real crisis in May 1940. Here’s a nice summary of one key thing that the man who became our leader that month immediately said:

First Speech as Prime Minister to House of Commons

On May 10, 1940, Winston Churchill became Prime Minister. When he met his Cabinet on May 13 he told them that “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.” He repeated that phrase later in the day when he asked the House of Commons for a vote of confidence in his new all-party government. The response of Labour was heart-warming; the Conservative reaction was luke-warm. They still really wanted Neville Chamberlain. For the first time, the people had hope but Churchill commented to General Ismay: “Poor people, poor people. They trust me, and I can give them nothing but disaster for quite a long time.”

That’s from the International Churchill Society. They’re experts, I’m assuming.

At the time, as this summary alludes to, not everyone saw the crisis the same way. Some felt that the real crisis was that Churchill had become Prime Minister and was not willing, like them, to sue for peace with Hitler. The crisis as Churchill saw it wasn’t a crisis at all.

And, in a way, Churchill agreed with them. He always called the Second World War ‘The Unnecessary War’. Hitler could have been stopped far earlier, at far less cost.

Blood, toil, tears and sweat

Let’s jump to May 2020. Boris Johnson is paying tribute to the British people’s sacrifice as he begins to lift the lockdown measures announced on 23rd March. (Is May the best month to choose? It has been a common theme this year. Please feel free to be my researchers.)

The British people have had our share of blood, toil, tears and sweat this year due to Covid-19 and, to a limited extent, according to the government, it’s worked. Situation normal for a real and ongoing crisis. Or something worse, as it was in August 1940. The blood, toil, tears and sweat had a long way to go to make it through to VE-Day in 1945.

I’m not saying that the Covid crisis is as bad as the one in 1940. I’m not even saying that it is a real crisis. I’m not saying, therefore, that I accept that lockdown and other measures have really helped. Take me as agnostic on all that.

What I am saying is that it looks like a crisis. And AGW doesn’t.

See why?

The emaciated dog that didn’t bark

Show me a leader who has said to their people since 1988 “We’ve all made a massive sacrifice to deal with the climate crisis. $1.5 trillion a year is a vast amount of money that could have gone towards reducing energy bills for the poorest and other productive uses. But at least we’ve turned the tide a little in 32 years. Here are some of the highlights of what we’ve achieved …”

Instead we’ve had a furious Greta saying that we’ve done nothing. And every leader seems to kowtow to this ridiculously false statement.

So, AGW doesn’t look like a real crisis. Wouldn’t it be helpful if it did?


  1. Cultural adherence causes folks to *subconsciously* decode that the crisis isn’t real, and in fact is just the normal human mechanism of group coherence, the appropriate response being therefore to virtue signal about one’s membership. *Not* actually take appropriate action. Taken over the whole cultural group, the net result is that the culture soaks up as much time, effort, money and infra-structure as possible, which all benefit the continued growth of said culture, yet specifically in ways that could *never* ever solve the supposed issue (if this actually happened, the culture would die). Hence ‘solutions’ that would actually work (against emissions) such as nuclear, are actually incredibly unpopular with most greens. While pouring money into ‘solutions’ like EVs or windmills / solar, which could never work, or ones that require sacrifices from everyone such as not eating meat, are conversely pushed all the time.

    Perhaps due to her condition, which interferes with normal social communication, Greta has misinterpreted the cultural signal and so *correctly* perceived that society is no way no how behaving as though this was a real crisis of the stated magnitude. And indeed, is not acting overall at all like it should if this were the case, which as you note would be much more like the response to covid or the second world war. The problem with attempting to make the ‘climate crisis’ look real, is that it is extremely difficult to overcome the cultural bypass on rationality. Indeed all Greta’s efforts have not achieved this, no matter how much she rants and raves and tells off the UN or world leaders. All she has really achieved is to increase the virtue signalling aspects and hence the grip of the culture. She’s a useful puppet for it. Which doesn’t mean they won’t come for the car or the central heating or your steak dinner one day, but does mean that the world is no more set up for low emissions than before Greta appeared, but is unfortunately even further down the road of environmental and human cost due to green energy debacles and such.

    Greta couldn’t believe everyone was lying to her, so picked the alternate option that the crisis must be true and yet the world, through laziness, vested interests, or whatever else, simply wasn’t reacting anywhere near appropriately. She didn’t know there was a third option, which is that the crisis isn’t true but (nearly) everyone is nevertheless *not* lying, they are simply believing. I guess she doesn’t know about cultural belief. She may go OTT in saying the world has ‘done nothing’, when indeed expenditure is enormous. But this is actually quite perceptive in the sense that the concrete results *are* such that all the expenditure *does* effectively amount to nothing, in terms of actually solving the crisis as it is routinely framed by any number of authorities from most world-leaders downwards (which statements amount to imminent global catastrophe).

    Anyhow, if Greta couldn’t overcome the irrationality due to cultural belief and convince that the crisis is real (the alternative being that adherents would wake from their cultural ‘spell’, as Jaime so nicely puts it, and as I presume is the outcome you hope for), then I don’t know how anyone else would. I think the best torpedoes into the culture have been those that introduce reality via a different means, i.e. Planet of the Humans, False Alarm, and Apocalypse Never, but these are still just relatively successful campaigns in a decades long war that appears to be far from over.

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  2. AGW is not a crisis today. Instead it is only “projected” to become a crisis after 2100, by which time the vast majority of us will be dead anyway. However to avert this “crisis” on behalf of our future unborn fellow humans it falls on us to decarbonise within the next 30 years. It is like original sin. Only by abandoning 20th century luxuries and rediscovering 18th century living can we be saved from our collective guilt.

    Of course we all know this isn’t going to work but it least it makes some of us feel better in the short term.

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  3. If we take as read for a minute that global warming is a crisis, is Greta acting rationally? You could argue that she is. Does that mean that treating global warming as a crisis in this scenario is the only rational position?

    I think not. Even if global warming was a crisis, people who recognised it as such have concerns that Greta does not. First, politicians value their own survival, and might be reluctant to instigate the necessary draconian laws. Second, a valid strategy for decision makers might be to sit and wait for others to go first and make the necessary sacrifices in their countries to solve the issue.

    In a world consisting of 2 countries, if Country 1 decides to go Net Zero to address global warming, this would be at great cost for their public. If Country 2 does nothing, it benefits from Country 1’s action (the warming is global), but it shoulders none of the cost. (Unless the sacrifice of Country 1 would not be enough to spare Country 2 from the worst effects of global warming.) If you expand the scenario to a world of 100 countries, there is no cost for Country 100’s default if Countries 1-99 are adopting Net Zero.

    Regarding the UK, this gov’t swings like a weather vane. If they treated global warming as a real crisis, the results of the policies they enacted would impact enough people that the gov’t would soon reverse course.

    In other words the policy is trying to thread a needle between appeasing activists and not annoying the public. At the moment we are doing half-assed things at cut price, hiding the costs of what has been done, etc. Sooner or later that strategy cannot be maintained. Either serious and painful cuts will be made, or it will be clear that the gov’t has no intention of making such cuts. Sooner or later we will reach a fork in the road. Of course there is always the chance of backing up.

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  4. JIT:

    “Even if global warming was a crisis, people who recognised it as such have concerns that Greta does not. First, politicians value their own survival…”

    This concern is ultimately because those critiquing mostly do *not* view it as a real crisis, but are just more virtue signallers (who will of course declare that it is real / dire, this is what they think consciously, but their behaviour is *subconsciously* controlled). In a world-war fight for existence, politicians typically put aside their differences plus career campaigns, and work together. Even those who find themselves on the same side despite wildly different values, and even different countries, such as Britain and the Soviet Union in WW2.

    “In a world consisting of 2 countries….”

    In a world truly facing apocalypse, the countries would *have to* work together. This is what Greta argues should happen. If the crisis was real, she’d be absolutely right.

    “Regarding the UK, this gov’t swings like a weather vane. If they treated global warming as a real crisis, the results of the policies they enacted would impact enough people that the gov’t would soon reverse course.”

    Which reveals that indeed they *aren’t* treating it as a real crisis, as Richard implies. But doing as much virtue signalling and useless spend as they can get away with, without triggering outright rebellion. And tracking that line by moving back and forth near it. This is not conscious /deliberate, in the sense that it’s at the emotive behest of the driving culture.

    “Sooner or later we will reach a fork in the road. ”

    I hope so. But this has gone on for decades already, and there are certainly ways it could carry on for decades more. The mainstream religious cultures have sustained their apocalypse / salvation narratives (and associated adherents) for millennia. Catastrophic climate culture hooked its wagon to science so cannot last that long unless science dies, or at least is permanently buried under panic. But this science has made precious little progress in the last 30 years, and it wouldn’t be an overwhelming surprise if it made little more in the next 30 years.

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  5. What I am saying is that it [Covid] looks like a crisis. And AGW doesn’t. See why?

    I think so. Because leaders are treating it as one, and asking us to make sacrifices, which we do without too much complaining, whereas the real sacrifices we’re making to cool the planet go unnoticed, because they’re long term, introduced gradually, and their costs are not questioned.

    The Covid comparison makes it clear what would make AGW look like a crisis – grannies dying of heatstroke in old folks homes. (Or prices of basic foodstuffs rising after a crop failure. Or forest fires or hurricanes happening two years running in the same place.) Any of these things or a dozen similar may happen any time. No-one would deny that these things were evidence of a crisis, but very few will react by renouncing the motor car or air travel. Surely the most likely response would be the rational one of demanding that care homes install air conditioning.

    I’m not sure that Andy’s reference to the subconscious helps here. I can quite consciously believe that the science says what people say the science says, but still not want to give up my car and foreign holidays. There’s nothing in the Common Law or even the Ten Commandments that says that my actions have to be in accordance with my beliefs down to the last gram of CO2.

    The day they come for our cars, our gas heating, and our hamburgers, I guarantee that “belief in global warming” as measured by opinion polls will drop like a stone. The other big long term culture, Christianity, offered people concrete advantages in exchange for belief, according to Rodney Stark, I believe (though I haven’t read him.) The pleasure involved in virtue signalling is a very evanescent thing in comparison.

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  6. There’s nothing in the Common Law or even the Ten Commandments that says that my actions have to be in accordance with my beliefs down to the last gram of CO2.

    Hopefully that also puts paid to the original sin point. (The T in Calvin’s TULIP, which I’ve never bought into. I won’t delve further. Google thinks it knows.)

    I had no idea how the comments would go on this one and I’ve been delighted. Thanks to all.

    My title really should have been: What a real crisis looks like *in a democracy*.

    Clive is right to bring in the hundred year horizon. But we’ve been going 32 years since Hansen testified to Congress and 31 since Thatcher did her stuff at the UN. Isn’t it really weird that this crisis has no er, feedback mechanism from our beloved leaders, whereas Covid has had multiple staging posts already, in the UK, where the people have been praised by the top man for our sacrifice and what it has achieved? In less than six months. (Churchill/the UK state 1940-45 is a little more subtle on this and worth coming back to.)

    Jit was right to bring in the fatal weakness in my last section. Multi-country. “Show me a leader who has said to their people since 1988 …” Why would our democratic representatives choose to grovel (as it surely would feel like) when the highly anti-democratic UNEP holds both the baby and the bathwater?

    There’s more to say, possibly much more. But talking of countries, let me leave you with this:

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  7. Geoff: “I can quite consciously believe that the science says what people say the science says, but still not want to give up my car and foreign holidays.”

    Well a) you’re *not* a believer in the cultural narrative of apocalypse and salvation, so this would be an expectation anyway, as the culture doesn’t have a subconscious hold on you. You would merely be exercising rationality combined with trust on the science front. And you can’t simply think your way into how an emotively committed person would behave (i.e. including their subconscious behaviour) unless you do indeed apply such knowledge as we have of how cultures work.

    It’s those for whom there *is* a level of belief, and how deep and how widespread that belief runs in society, who represent the problem. So b) the whole point of *not* treating it as a real crisis, because even for adherents they ‘know’ underneath that they don’t have to do this, is that they *only* have to advertise group membership. So they’ll get away with whatever they can, as long as they *appear* to be complying to the group narrative. So to go on a foreign holiday, they’ll say give up meat for a couple of weeks, or plant a tree or something to make up (or like all the rich folks do already, simply purchase their indulgences of carbon offsets). These and many more fundamental hypocrisies across so many people, are not conscious lies and cheating; the people are emotively manipulated underneath such that these actions seem perfectly okay to them.

    “The day they come for our cars, our gas heating, and our hamburgers, I guarantee that “belief in global warming” as measured by opinion polls will drop like a stone.”

    Yes. As reality bites more and more, only those with the strongest belief are still left standing, actually *would* do some of the dictated things. This happens in every culture; there are core believers, think hair-shirt brigade, or Jesuits. Yet they are generally in a small minority. We don’t need to wait for when they come for cars and gas heating to know this. There are a huge number of surveys from which this level of support can be estimated. People who place climate change above every other issue, no matter what these are and no matter how long the list of issues. While the support when things actually happen, may be less than indicated by the number of these people, it will not be more. And currently, the figures for such people do not break 10% in any nation, which figure is approached in very irreligious nations such as Sweden, and ramps down to about 4% is very religious nations, such as say Pakistan or Morocco. BUT… a warning is that these small minorities DO NOT mean the culture couldn’t take over and actually steal the cars and heating one day; cultures frequently hold majorities in emotive thrall, as occurred in Germany in the 1930s, and there does not need to be a threat of death for this to happen. You only have to look at what’s happening in Western culture today to see how this process works.

    “The other big long term culture, Christianity, offered people concrete advantages in exchange for belief…”

    Christianity in the first 3 centuries or so of the Roman empire, offered mainly an increased chance of death or ostracization at the hands of the authorities, or indeed your neighbours. Such simple ‘deals’ to individuals are not at all what culture is about, and indeed there would be no suicide bombers or droves of volunteers for endless religious conflicts throughout the ages, if this were the case.

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  8. A real crisis has certain attributes: it is the result of a severe threat; the threat is known either because it has happened before or because there are incontrovertible indications of its future appearance; and also it cannot be avoided, only endured although its effects might be mitigated by prior action (but alternately may be made worse by inappropriate actions) (see below).

    Thus a hurricane making landfall is a real crisis because it will cause structural damage and loss of life. Today on the eastern seaboard of the United States it is a known threat and effects are predicable (within limits). There is no way to avoid this threat in the location the hurricane is going to hit, only to move away or construct hurricane-proof buildings. Despite decades of study and increasingly complex modelling, many hurricanes are unpredictable. [This I found out to my cost in South Florida when forced to move from the Keys to North Florida only for that hurricane to shift its track to hit us head on.]

    A pandemic viral illness like Covid 19 is a real threat (in fact we can imagine threats much more severe and many authors already have). It has happened before and there is no reason to suppose that viruses will not continue to modify and produce particularly virulent strains. As a functioning society, it can only be endured.

    AGW to the majority of people is considered a real threat. It is said to be predictable using evidence from the best available scientific endeavours and this is guaranteed by the overwhelming majority of authorities (scientific, religious and political). There is a constant search for indications foretelling or foreshadowing it’s appearance. There is also a search for past occurrences of CO2-driven climate changes. Why doesn’t it feel like a crisis? Well it’s personal. To you and me, it’s not. We evaluate the evidence differently to many (or the majority of people ?). So why doesn’t it feel like a real crisis to those that believe? Personally I believe it is because it has no immediate relevancy. It’s a bit like the Day of Judgement. There were times in the past when everyone believed, all authorities and individuals, yet kings and barons waged war and unmercifully repressed the population (hardly activities likely to stand them good stead). Other, more lowly individuals stole or murdered. The DoJ was a future threat, but no crisis. Not because it was not believed, but because it was (hopefully) sometime in the distant future and individuals were impotent to prevent it. Also the pleasures of today were no match for the predicted perils of the distant future.

    Global Heating is today’s Day of Judgement. In both cases advocates demand immediate lifestyle changes, the majority pay at best lip service. Both constitute(d) threats but, by and large and for the most part are not real crises. In contrast, the Covid 19 was not considered a crisis until it arrived, and now we search for scapegoats.

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  9. Dictionary corner:

    The words used in these discussions have interesting etymologies.

    ‘Emergency’ comes from the Latin ‘emergere’, meaning ‘to arise or bring to light’. As such, the word is not a million miles away from ‘evident’ (Latin: Obvious to the eye or mind’). The point is that an emergency is a factually established situation that is threatening and therefore in need of a decision; hence the relevance of:

    ‘Crisis’, from the Greek ‘Krisis’, meaning ‘decision’. A point of criticality is therefore a point at which a decision is required. If a decision is not forthcoming one may be faced with a:

    ‘Disaster’, from the Ancient Greek ‘dus aster’, meaning ‘bad star’. The point is that a disaster is a matter of fate, i.e. it is written in the stars and sometimes they can be bad. Contrast this with:

    ‘Catastrophe’, from the Greek ‘katastréphō’, meaning ‘I overturn’. It originally referred to the calamitous finish of a drama, usually a tragedy. As such, a catastrophe was originally associated with the calamitous outcomes resulting from human machinations.

    Whether global warming will prove to be disastrous or catastrophic remains to be seen. It might just come down to whether or not we accept the emergency, thereby recognise the criticality and so make a decision that turns potential disaster into catastrophe.

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  10. Ha. Very good John.

    I’d like to clarify, further, if possible, what my argument is and isn’t.

    The title of my last section of course alluded to Conan Doyle’s curious incident of the dog in the night-time. Everyone was looking in the wrong direction for the solution of the murder and the disappearance of the prize racehorse. They should have noticed the dog that didn’t bark. And I feel that we’ve been missing a key piece of ‘negative’ evidence in our efforts to move the AGW story through to a rational conclusion. A piece of evidence that is much more starkly in front of us, and our leaders, because of Covid-19.

    Why ’emaciated dog’? That speaks not just of our political class but of the media that has let it get away, for 32 years, with something that makes no sense at all if AGW is the crisis we are told it is. So we as climate sceptics must ‘force our leaders’ to change. (Second paragraph. I don’t really know how either. But I genuinely think Covid can help.)

    Alan wrote:

    Why doesn’t it feel like a crisis? Well it’s personal.

    But in this post I for one am not interested in such feelings but in a fact about how Covid has been handled. And other crises – though the Second World War as seen from the UK had secrecy constraints and morale concerns that inevitably made the job of informing the public about the current state of the crisis and what was being done about it less than perfect as seen by the FOIA idealist of 2020.

    And AGW hasn’t. UNEP is one explanation but it isn’t good enough. These laws have been passed in this country. And we are leaving the EU. We should expect a progress report twice a year at least. That’s 64 we’re missing. Quite a lot of catchup required.

    I was going to mention this guy’s thinking before I was done so I was pleased to see this on how Net Zero and saving the economy post Covid are now clashing

    Long may the decisions made in this crisis (thanks again John) from here on in favour the latter.

    I will do at least one more comment after this. But maybe not many. The discussion of course is not, and should not be, limited to my concerns. Alan’s comment is superb, for example. But the feelz aren’t the only thing in view here.


  11. Richard.
    I don’t understand this
    “I want to argue that the Covid-19 pandemic looks like a real crisis in a way that man-made global warming (AGW) doesn’t. And that our aim as climate sceptics should be to make AGW look like a real crisis.“

    This lack of understanding led me to sort out what I thought makes a crisis which I posted earlier (and which you were gracious to praise). I had hoped that with time I would gain understanding or other people’s posts would allow this. But no such luck.

    I agree that Covid 19 looks like a real crisis because multiple governments are treating it as such and their populations have largely agreed with proposals made to restrict the disease.

    Is AGW seen to be a crisis? I would argue that with the overwhelming majority of movers and shakers being in the alarmist camp, there is every reason to suppose so. It could also be argued that since the majority of the population are acquiescent (or may be in favour) to/of such changes imposed upon them as a result of changes caused by adherence to AGW, it is a crisis. AGW is being treated by many as a crisis. Those not treating it so are screamed at and repeatedly threatened with censure.

    So why should we AGW sceptics strive to make something which we are dubious about “look like a real crisis”? What does it benefit us precious few?

    Take pity on the confused.


  12. Alan: Fair question. It’s especially strange coming from this guy:

    This first one got a retweet from Steve McIntyre no less. And the great Barry Woods. Sceptic central!

    So what am I on about in this thread? A simple way to explain, in part, is

    “Let’s call their bluff.”

    But it’s more difficult than that. It’s more like:

    “Let’s get our leaders to call their own bluff.”

    As he often does, Geoff caught something very important that has been an input for my thinking, however flawed:

    I think [I see why]. Because leaders are treating [Covid-19] as [a crisis], and asking us to make sacrifices, which we do without too much complaining…

    It’s that compliance of the general population that AGW sceptical folks like Young and Delingpole seem to despise. That’s partly what made me think of WW2 and the compliance we showed then.

    I think climate sceptics need to think more deeply about all this.

    Because I continue to feel that Covid-19 (despite being horrible up close and personal, as you know well) is a major opportunity to turn a corner on the climate crisis. Even to make a decision to do so. (Thanks John etc.)


  13. Alan:

    “Those not treating it so are screamed at and repeatedly threatened with censure.”

    No. Those who don’t virtue signal that they belong to the cultural group ‘catastrophic climate-change believers’, are are screamed at and repeatedly threatened with censure. There’s a difference, because all the actions of those who *are* in that group, taken together, have not moved the world one jot towards a real solution for the apocalypse that they advertise. And this is exactly what happens with cultures; the *supposed* crisis is merely a group identity signal, and not a *real* crisis. This is unknown to believers, because deep mechanisms in their brain bypass the rationality that would tell them. This is a feature of all humanity, not a flaw in those who believe in particular cultures.

    “So why should we AGW sceptics strive to make something which we are dubious about “look like a real crisis”? What does it benefit us precious few?”

    The benefit would be that such a blunt confrontation about the hypocrisy of their behaviour, i.e. always screaming crisis yet never acting as though it is, indeed all the spend and infra-structure dedicated to *not* solving the problem, but merely expanding the culture and it’s influence in all aspects of our lives, would awaken them from the ‘spell’ of cultural belief. But I don’t think it will work. This approach rarely does for cultures. And if Greta couldn’t achieve it, how will any mere skeptic who is never going to get in front of the UN and world leaders anyhow, manage to achieve it.

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  14. Richard. Sorry but I am little the wiser – the closest I got was when you wrote that we should get our leaders to call their own bluff (by pretending to support alarmist outcomes?) But I disagree, this would remove the last bastion of rational argument concerning the climate issue. As it is, alarmists can claim majority support and if sceptics supported claims that AGW constitutes a crisis this, in my mind, would make their claims near unanimous. Is this what you desire?

    Concerning the graph you reprise, I think it’s a travesty. Firstly it is mis-titled. Climate kills no-one, it’s weather that kills. I also believe that non-weather related deaths would not be a smooth undulating curve; it would be much more sticky reflecting unusually severe and widely spaced individual events – major volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and earthquakes. I find the graph intriguing but I am very suspicious that it constitutes another hockey-stick-like concoction.


  15. @Alan I think I know what Richard is getting at. The comparison with WuFlu is an interesting one. Two problems for the world that have arisen – one less than a year old, the other old enough to buy its first house. One, both or neither could be described as crises. WuFlu has been treated as a crisis, with draconian limits placed on our freedoms. Personally I have obeyed the mask edict, albeit with incessant grumbling about how pointless it is. Has there been any organised opposition to the restrictions? From my limited survey of the media, the demands I have heard have rather been for levels of risk to be reduced to zero, particularly re: the new school term. The pressure on gov’t to mandate mask use in schools was intense (every morning’s headline seemed to be “pressure mounting on gov’t to make face coverings compulsory in schools”). “If there’s going to be a U-turn, can it be sooner rather than later,” was one comment I remember, possibly from that guy that represents the Association of School and College Leader.

    Where are the voices arguing that face coverings are pointless, and very possibly counterproductive? They cannot intercept aerosols. They will reduce droplet emissions from coughs and sneezes – but symptomatic people are not meant to be in school. Many news items I have seen show even reporters constantly fiddling with their masks. School students will touch infected surfaces if such exist and fiddle with their masks. They’ll drop them, kick them around, not use a clean one at high enough frequency. This mandate is dumb in my eyes. But the calls are for more, not fewer, restrictions.

    Likewise with climate. Only a few curmudgeons like us are arguing for taking global warming less seriously, and no-one is listening (exceptions like Shellenberger now exist). The calls are all for more. We have XR demanding Net Zero by next week, but the official opposition seem to think that the gov’t’s already stupid deadline of 2050 is too unambitious.

    Now step into a parallel world where the gov’t is treating global warming as a real crisis, and it should be the case that, owing to the accompanying pain this brings, the opposition – and the voices of many others – are united in demanding those U-turns away from the pain and towards a more proportionate approach. (Maybe this is a naive prediction on my part.)

    As I mentioned somewhere above, in the UK we have tried to steer a course that showed intent to save the planet without actually doing enough to generate significant opposition. Half-assed things at cut price. I read a long time ago that in the West we have trouble making decisions, waiting until we reach a fork in the road before deciding with path to take. (This certainly chimed with my own approach to deciding things.) Treating global warming as a crisis would bring that decision (actually as John mentioned somewhere the “crisis” itself) forward. Another naive hope I have is that the crisis would break the spell that is hanging over most of the movers and shakers in the world (the abiding culture that Andy has expounded on).

    If we really think this plane is crashing, we ought to get our parachutes on.

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  16. Regarding the figure, I would not have recommended its use as it is. The small print says it represents decadal averages, but there is more to such a smoothed line than that. If you’re going to smooth data, you have to report how you did it. It looks like an arithmetical moving average, period unknown. No reason to smooth – the actual decadal means should have been used.


  17. Jit. I missed the small print, but even with this, consider the Boxing Day earthquake and tsunami of 2004. It is estimated that more than a quarter of a million people perished from this single event. No matter how you smear it, that number of deaths is difficult (impossible?) to reconcile with the smooth curve of that graph.


  18. Alan,

    “Climate kills no-one, it’s weather that kills.”

    Well said, Alan. Climate is just in the background whispering, “Do it, do it!”

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  19. Having said there’s no pushback against the oppressive regulations, there’s now a rally in Berlin protesting against things like mandatory face coverings.

    However, the cops have said the rally can’t proceed until the protesters put their face coverings on.

    My point above, which I groped towards but did not quite reach, was that people may be more likely to put up with lifestyle restrictions for a genuine crisis, but not for the puffed-up non-crisis of global warming.

    Alan, the tsunami peak you mention is a) spread over the ten years for that decade and b) apparently diluted by the running mean.


  20. I just want to say, once again, that you’ve all been brillig. Of course I support the crucial distinction between Climate and Weather. Just as I believe in Jabberwocky. Otherwise how could he have been killed by the vorpal blade? And don’t give me that old rubbish that ‘vorpal blade’ was merely a nonce word. It’s much more real and long-lasting than that.

    Actually it depends on the context. Bjorn’s use is fine, simply as a synonym for weather. As for the smoothing of the graph, Steve Mc didn’t just not object but retweeted me. The 2004 tsunami can be seen in the bump around that time in the red non-climate-related deaths. For the climate-related deaths it’s a true and fair view, as the other, rather better-paid auditors say. Or try this graph, from Indur Goklany:

    That’s from 2011, and I used it in my original blog post on the subject, where I anticipated Lomborg’s ‘mistake’ by saying ‘extreme climate events’. Except I don’t think it is one. They’re mostly synonyms or climate is meaningless. Read Taken By Storm by Essex and McKitrick.

    The point here, anyway, is that I think the idea of a climate crisis is ridiculous, as explained in slightly more depth to my adversary at the time:

    Him: Great news. Technology prevented a lot of additional climate related deaths

    Me: True. And technology, including cheap, reliable energy technology, caused our CO2 emissions in the first place. This shows that as a *total system* the human-climate nexus 1920-2020 is a massive good news story. That may change in the future but one would need v strong evidence.

    It’s not a crisis, it’s a massive good news story. Also see Mike Shellenberger’s graph of the same phenomenon.

    (More to follow, picking up Jit’s line of thinking in particular.)


  21. Jit. “the tsunami peak you mention is a) spread over the ten years for that decade and b) apparently diluted by the running mean.“ Perhaps, but I don’t think so. If you are correct, then the running mean of deaths should not be declining after the Boxing Day event, but remaining high as a result of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake (estimated 6900 dead) and the 2010 Haïti earthquake (minimum death toll of 100,000, with some estimates as high as 300,000).

    I am very suspicious that the “non climate related deaths” curve is a concoction of what the author(s) wanted it to be. The really big events were the 1976 Tangshan and the Boxing Day earthquakes so they made sure they were represented and their effects were then spread over the neighbouring years. Unfortunately they forgot to include the effects of other significant earthquakes, not to mention other geo hazards. If such a curve was produced in an undergraduate research project I was evaluating, I would call the student out over it.


  22. Jit:

    The comparison with WuFlu is an interesting one. Two problems for the world that have arisen – one less than a year old, the other old enough to buy its first house. One, both or neither could be described as crises. WuFlu has been treated as a crisis, with draconian limits placed on our freedoms. Personally I have obeyed the mask edict, albeit with incessant grumbling about how pointless it is.

    Thanks for this and for your various reflections.

    I too have obeyed the mask edict. But I’m absent-minded. (My mother was told by the doctors who delivered me that the forceps used, which visibly crushed my brain at age zero, might have this effect. But it was either that or we both died. Trade-offs, huh.)

    So it was that after being impressed by the level of compliance in my own area (BS22-24 as postcodes roll) I wandered in late to the massive Asda in Newport, South Wales, the M4 having been kindly shut by roadworks towards England. I needed petrol anyway. After that I forgot about the legal requirements as I entered the store. And nobody else seemed to be wearing a mask either, once I did remember.

    Now I’m odd and much can no doubt be put down to that difficult birth. But I am both impressed by the stolid fortitude of the British people in my own patch and those who like me forgot – perhaps by semi-conscious decision (I hear you Andy) – about the crisis in the Principality.

    What impresses me less is stuff like this. The stuff that Effie and Evo are criticising I mean:

    Or what Juan was criticising around the time masks became mandatory:

    Now I don’t like the criticism either. But ‘living under a fascist dictatorship’ is for me a very unhelpful take coming from a climate sceptic.

    Strangely enough a massive opponent of Donald Trump made some very helpful comments on why such thinking is generally unhelpful last night. (I still say the bad effects are worse when climate sceptics fall for the same kind of overstatement. That’s partly because of the weakness of our position to start with. But also because of how much Covid could help us if we play the situation right.)

    Wow. That last bit makes them sound like a democrat, not just a Democrat.

    I think it’s all very well said, even though I don’t see Trump as even a slow-motion bringer of fascism.

    And I don’t think this country splits 50/50 on complying with the government on its Covid-19 guidance and/or instructions. The majority are running with it. That has profound implications too. But I’ve said enough for now.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. JIT,

    40,000 people turned up in London today to protest against lockdowns. Many thousands in Berlin if the photos are anything to go by, but I think the Berlin police broke up the marchers because they weren’t ‘social distancing’. 900 protestors marching against Ardern’s madcap ‘Zero Covid’ policy. On the day when our government publishes a consultation paper about allowing unlicensed medicines to be promoted (i.e. Covid vaccine) and the consequent removal of manufacturer’s liability for damage, Deputy CMO Jenny Harries says the evidence for the medical effectiveness of mask wearing (or not) is ‘not strong either way’ but maybe offers ‘reassurance’ to those needing it, when Hancock in the Times promotes a mythical second wave of Covid-19 this winter based upon modelling a ‘reasonable worst case scenario’ (which ignores real world data and science), predicting 85000 deaths, warning us of many more lockdowns, and when a positive PCR test is revealed to be a con because there is no limit on the number of amplification cycles it can go through, meaning 90% of positives are probably non-infectious minute fragments of RNA. Probably quite a few things I’ve missed out too from previous days. Oh yes, almost forgot: there’s a 15.3 million ‘hidden waiting list’ of NHS patients which an NHS spokesman claims is not a backlog, it’s just the number of people scheduled for consultations at future dates!

    My one contribution to this thread. That’s it. Not getting into any heated discussions.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Something that has looked like a real crisis to me for decades and decades, … and still does is the US national debt, but it has never panned out, … yet.

    Back when Ronald Reagan was president, there was all kinds of hand wringing over the national debt reaching a trillion dollars. Jack Kemp used to run for president on going back to a gold standard. There was more hand wringing over whether president Obama should have a one or two trillion dollar stimulus. Chris Mooney warned us about debt ceiling denial (not the danger of the national debt, but the danger of not raising the debt ceiling).

    Now we have regular trillion dollar deficits under Trump along with similar sized payments to help us get through COVID19. So far it’s all gone sustainably forward along with Remy’s Rap career at ReasonTV.

    Why hasn’t it all collapsed? I do have a theory/hypothesis. Under Reagan, we had a microchip revolution and a culture of Entrepreneurship that was well articulated by George Gilder. Under Clinton, we had an internet revolution. Under Obama, we had an energy revolution — NOT renewables, but fracked natural gas. Now our political class wants to spend money we don’t have on expensive, crappy, unreliable energy. I don’t think this will end well. There really was a Weimar Republic and you can buy 10 trillion dollar Zimbabwe bank notes on Ebay. Perhaps Steve Mosher has the right idea going into Bitcoin. Bitcoin has a great brand name and an installed base like Apple and Microsoft. Of course, so did Pan Am and Kodak. George Gilder has expressed enthusiasm for Bitcoin’s blockchain technology.

    Is there any hope for sustaining this house of cards? Perhaps they can be made super stiff and resilient with carbon nano-tubes. Perhaps the low energy nuclear reactions that so intrigued Julian Schwinger could give us all the practical equivalent of an infinitely charged personal battery.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Ah, that was the other Mike I was looking for.

    We’ve gone off course in the comments based solely on my intentions in the original post.

    But I’ve also been developing my own ideas seeded in the original post. Particularly this:

    Our leaders treating AGW as a crisis should have meant 64 serious briefings, with incisive journalists present, in the 32 years since 1988. I hadn’t spotted the 64 until the comments. The only number (in decimal notation) where n^m = mddd? 2^6 = 64 you see. m has to be < 10 obviously. Ok, never mind.

    It's those Daily Briefings with Boris in the centre flanked by Chris Whitty and Patrick Vallance that became a major inspiration for me here. We should have had 64 of those so far for AGW since 88, each time restating what the goals were and what had been done to achieve them, or not, with polite but ruthless challenges. What a priceless time series of text that would have produced.

    Rather than name the UK journalists who should have been present I was thinking of three current Mikes from Stateside to represent the range of opinions that would have been needed. But make that four:

    Michael Mann
    Michael Moore
    Michael Shellenberger
    Mike Dombroski

    I'm sure our leaders would have loved the open debate that would have produced.

    You may say I'm a dreamer but I'm not the only one. Well, maybe I am the only one.

    But there's also the money situation, as Mike D just reminded us. Minds are going to be concentrated. What a real crisis involves is going to be painfully er, real to our leaders. Let’s be ready.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Just a couple of loose ends before I ‘go dark’ on Cliscep for a bit.

    Commenting on Rupert Darwall’s ironic tweet “Save Pret or the Planet” I said three days ago

    Long may the decisions made in this crisis … from here on in favour [the economy, not Net Zero]

    However, Rupert was commenting on the Evening Standard story Brits must return to offices to stop city centres becoming 'ghost towns', CBI boss warns. And the snag is that it’s hard to tell what is going to be best for the economy going forward. I fully agree with Jeremy Warner’s first two paragraphs in the Telegraph today:

    Boris Johnson’s “get back to the office” campaign suffers from one, rather fundamental flaw: it’s none of the Government’s business. Ministers are free to set the rules and guidance on social distancing, face-mask wearing and the like, even if they seem to have made a right old mess of it so far, but they should not be telling companies how to manage their affairs within those rules.

    If it makes sense to have workers return to the office, no doubt firms will instruct employees accordingly. But if they have found home working a realistic substitute, and a meaningful cost saving, then that’s their affair. Ministers should not be attempting to micromanage such companies.

    And most of the rest of it. I think. I’m not a trained economist. But then I don’t think they know either.

    On whether it’s good to call the UK government fascist, just consider Hans Litten and his arrest the night of the Reichstag fire in February 1933, four weeks after Hitler became Chancellor. From then on it was torture and incarceration in a series of horrific concentration camps until the poor man committed suicide in 1938. Just because the brilliant young lawyer had sought to apply the rule of law to Hitler himself in 1931.

    Meanwhile Boris came to power here in July 2019. He certainly had enemies. Can you give me comparative examples? Has the equivalent of Dachau been built outside Manchester? Which of Johnson’s critics have been imprisoned and tortured there?

    I know everybody’s doing it – calling their political enemies fascists I mean. In Portland last night the antifa mob reportedly rejoiced over the killing of a Trump supporter “because he was a fascist”. That made the killing not only right but an occasion for rejoicing.

    And that shows me that violence follows on from intemperate language. It can also make climate sceptics look stupid, as seen by the widespread reactions to Piers Corbyn and co today. (Not just Richard Betts. He’s another subject. Not for me. Not this week anyway.)

    I’d much prefer we didn’t do any of this. I much prefer that we win.


  27. I meant to mention this before. Allister Heath came out in support of my thesis on this thread on 28th October. Well, kind of. He put forward a cogent case for treating Covid and its response as a *very* real crisis, so that the cost-benefit analysis should be updated every two weeks. Others strongly agreed:


    So how often should the cost-benefit analysis of New Zero be updated?

    Perhaps a first step would be to do one at all?

    (Remember that the IPCC dropped cost-benefit analysis in 1996. But I say it’s never too late, given what we’re learning about and through Covid.)


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