I was intrigued by Tony Thomas’ recent article (Tim Flannery’s Latest Climate Triumph) and Phil Clarke’s comments on it. Tracking down apocalyptic warnings and showing them (or attempting to show them) not to have been borne out has long been a favourite activity of climate sceptics, while showing (or trying to show) that the warnings have been taken out of context (or been misquoted), or time isn’t yet up, or that they have been justified after all, are favourite activities of climate alarmists and apocalypse apologists.
That’s a well-trodden path, so I see no point in replicating it, but it did occur to me that as a Guardian reader all my adult life, the trend towards the appearance in that newspaper of increasing volumes of climate scare stories as time has gone by, is such that it might be a bit of fun to take a look at some of them. What follows doesn’t try to prove anything, and isn’t based on any particular criteria. I simply carried out an internet search using the terms “Guardian” “warning” “climate” and “years”. Reading through the articles this threw up suggests that certain themes are recurrent. Perhaps Bagdikian’s Law applies (thanks to John Ridgway’s recent article for making this offering seem more relevant than might otherwise have been the case).
Climate change warning signals ‘at red’
This was the heading to an article published in the Guardian on 12th May 2000. The UK Round Table on Sustainable Development and Sir Tom Blundell, chairman of the Royal Commission on Pollution were both cited. The main messages were that the UK government was complacent, that its policies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions were not nearly ambitious enough, and that “the world is still proceeding at a reckless pace towards disaster”. Even 21 years ago, the government was being urged “…to take vigorous measures to promote the necessary changes in behaviour”.
Some things don’t change. In April 2021 the Guardian was still reporting:
“The UK business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, is considering a “full vegan diet” to help tackle climate change, saying people will need to make lifestyle changes if the government is to meet its new emissions target of a 78% reduction on 1990 levels by 2035.
But how much difference would it make if everyone turned to a plant-based diet? Experts say changing the way we eat is necessary for the future of the planet but that government policy is needed alongside this. If politicians are serious about wanting dietary changes, they also need to incentivise it, scientists and writers add.”
Twenty one years of trying to insist that the government needs to take measures to persuade the population to change its behaviour. Perhaps the population would change its behaviour voluntarily if it really thought it were necessary?
Why vegans were right all along
On Christmas Eve 2002 the Guardian published a piece by George Monbiot under the above heading, sub-titled “Famine can only be avoided if the rich give up meat, fish and dairy” (why only the rich, I wonder).
Within as little as ten years, George earnestly assured us, the world would be faced with a choice. Arable farming would either have to feed the world’s animals or it would have to feed the world’s humans, but it couldn’t do both. Vegetarianism wouldn’t cut it. It was veganism or nothing. If everyone who ate beef were to eat cheese instead, that would only delay the inevitable famine; it wouldn’t prevent it. Worse, since dairy cattle are fed fishmeal, anyone who consumes dairy products is a fish-eater, and they might actually be contributing to the acceleration of the date when the inevitable famine occurs.
Well, that period of ten years came and went nine years ago, but as we’ve seen, the attempt to foist veganism on us continues.
Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us
Although I didn’t specifically select the above article, which appeared on the Guardian’s website (it was actually an Observer report) on 22nd February 2004, it surely ranks up there with the best of them. Sub-headings to the article were truly apocalyptic:
“Secret report warns of rioting and nuclear war”
“Britain will be ‘Siberian’ in less than 20 years”
“Threat to the world is greater than terrorism”
It might be argued that the Pentagon report shouldn’t be taken seriously, on the basis, perhaps, that the threats it mentioned were just possibilities that had to be considered, along with a whole host of other threats that might not happen but which should nevertheless be included in the planning process, as a matter of prudence. Unfortunately for those who seek to dismiss the report on that basis, that’s not how the Observer reported on it – far from it.
As early as “next year” (i.e 2005) widespread flooding caused by sea level rise “will” (no conditionality or doubt in that word) create major upheaval for millions, we were solemnly assured. Leading scientists didn’t seem to be rushing to caveat these warnings. On the contrary, the article assured us that respected scientists criticised the Bush administration for cherry-picking science to suit its own agenda and suppressing studies it didn’t like. Suppressing the Pentagon report for four months was a further example of the White House seeking to bury the threat of climate change. The firm implication is that respected climate scientists supported and agreed with the Apocalyptic contents of the Pentagon report, and that the reader should be scared witless too.
Bob Watson, chief scientist for the World Bank and former IPCC chair was quoted at great length, stressing the importance of the document and the need to take it seriously, as was Sir John Houghton. It’s difficult to pretend that the climate establishment didn’t jump on this document and use it to push its agenda.
Ten years to change our ways, warns UN report
On 27th November 2007, the Guardian followed up the above heading with the dramatic opening sentence:
“The world has less than a decade to change course to avoid irreversible ecological catastrophe, the UN warned today”.
The methodology might by now seem familiar. The report, which ran to 400 pages, was commissioned by the UN Development Programme, and was timed to appear just one month ahead of the climate summit (COP) in Bali, where the plan was to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto protocol. A cynic might say that we’re witnessing the same thing in 2021 ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.
James Lovelock: ‘Enjoy life while you can: In 20 years global warming will hit the fan’
Despite the Apocalyptic heading, however, this piece, from 1st March 2008, rather goes against the grain of constant Guardian campaigning for action against climate change before it’s too late. Among other things, Lovelock is quoted as claiming:
- It’s too late. Things like “sustainable development” are just words that don’t mean anything.
- Carbon off-setting is a joke. Paying money to plant trees probably makes things worse. Far better to pay an organisation like Cool Earth to pay native peoples not to cut down their forests.
- He doesn’t restrict the number of flights he takes.
- Recycling is almost certainly a waste of time and energy.
- “Green” lifestyles amount to little more than “grand ostentatious gestures”.
- Ethical consumption is a scam.
- You won’t get enough energy from wind to run a society like the UK.
Nevertheless, the central message is pretty much that we’re all doomed.
The shape of British summers to come?
On the back of a few rubbish summers in the UK, this piece saw the light of day on 8th August 2012. Based on that, presumably, it warned that the claims of a Mediterranean climate were probably wrong, and that melting Greenland ice might be leading to a change in the jet stream, bringing more low pressures and cool, wet weather over the UK in the summer.
In fairness the article did include the caveat that it was too soon to make any claims with certainty, but it’s quite amusing to see the attempts to link any temporary weather change to climate change and to try to scare the reader. It’s also amusing to observe the BBC just seven and a half years later (ironically after a run of hot, dry summers following on from the Met Office’s warning of the likelihood of cool, wet summers) running an article with this heading:
“Dry, hot summers could become ‘common’ in Scotland”.
Appearing on 3rd February 2020, the BBC article reported on a report prepared by the Universities of Edinburgh and Oxford and the Met Office. Melting Greenland ice and moving jet streams, with runs of low pressures tumbling across the UK in summer were no longer on the agenda. Instead, summers are going to be hot and dry. And, just as the wet cool summers were the fault of climate change and should scare us, so the hot, dry summers are the fault of climate change and should scare us. A small number of positives were mentioned in the report, but the whole gist of the piece is negative and scary – water shortages, pests, reduced crop yields, impact of grouse numbers, wildfires, buckling rails causing train companies problems, roads melting, coat and jumper sales suffering, distilleries closing due to water shortages.
Ice-free Arctic in two years heralds methane catastrophe – scientist
Published on 24th July 2013, this refers to the famous Peter Wadham’s paper in Nature. It features one of the Guardian’s favourite tactics (one beloved of the BBC, too) – a scary headline, and opening paragraph, with a much more nuanced story following on. In this case, the opening paragraph warns of the potential destabilisation of the climate system as a result of a massive methane pulse from the thawing Arctic permafrost. In turn, this could result in costs as high as the world’s GDP. It might happen over 50 years, or it might happen catastrophically fast.
The rest of the article is much more balance with a style of “on the one hand, on the other hand”, yet the concluding paragraphs are still used to ram home the scary message.
We have 12 years to limit climate catastrophe, warns UN
This story was published in the Guardian on 8th October 2018. It was sub-headed “Urgent changes needed to cut risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty, says IPCC”.
Even that wasn’t scary enough for some people. Bob Ward was quoted as saying that the final document was “incredibly conservative”. Why? Because it didn’t mention the “likely” rise in climate-driven refugees or the danger of tipping-points.
Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that this attempt to ramp up concerns took place just two months before COP 24 in Katowice. Sadly for the Guardian, Katowice is generally regarded as a failure, with many difficult questions postponed to COP 25.
This article hasn’t attempted to prove anything. The only conclusions I can draw are that the Guardian (and it’s far from alone in this, of course) has run a consistent campaign to generate fear around a concept of climate apocalypse. Much of what it does is legitimate – for instance, it always reports on third party comments and reports. The problem, to my mind, isn’t with the science behind all this; rather it’s with the way in which the science is used to put the worst possible spin on anything to do with the climate, and to shoehorn climate apocalypse into almost any story about almost any subject). I also sense, rightly or wrongly, a definite attempt to ramp up pressure in the run-up to COPs, an attempt which has intensified and commenced much earlier than usual in the UK media in the run-up to this year’s event in the UK. Things (and I’m not talking about the climate) are, I fear, only likely to get worse.
You know I’m a sucker for a good review of apocalypse predictions. However, regarding the UN’s latest forebodings, we should remember that Phil Clarke made a very good point when he drew the distinction between a prediction of the inevitability of event ‘A’ if we don’t do ‘B’ within ‘n’ years, and a prediction that ‘A’ will happen within ‘n’ years. In the first instance, the non-event ‘A’ after ‘n’ years does not mean that the prediction was wrong. The broader question, however, is just what does have to happen for the prediction to be confirmed? What physically has to happen after ‘n’ years? Or do we just wait for ‘A’ to happen and then say, ‘I told you so’? Are we reduced to using models to corroborate the predictions of models? Would this still be science?
Meanwhile, the children are having hysterics because stupid or irresponsible adults portrayed the prediction as apocalypse within ‘n’ years.
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Mark can I draw your attention to the scholarly works of Anabela Carvalho who has studied the way climate is conveyed in newspapers. She did her PhD at London, with Jacque Burgess (later Head of School, ENV, UEA, during Climategate). One of their published papers showed how the newspaper coverage of climate ramped up as a climate conference approached and diminished sharply afterwards. This was a feature of all British newspapers examined, not just the Guardian. Also this study took place before Climategate, so is not a recent phenomenon.
Alan, I shall look that up – I genuinely had no idea before writing this piece.
John, although as I said in the piece, the object wasn’t to prove that some predictions have been proved to be wrong, I think it’s fair to say that some of them have been. As for the Pentagon one, however, maybe they were right about Britain turning into Siberia. Here we are just over 7 weeks from the summer solstice, and when I went for a walk this morning it was absolutely perishing cold, more like winter than mid/late spring! Global warming for you….
John: “In the first instance, the non-event ‘A’ after ‘n’ years does not mean that the prediction was wrong.”
Indeed. But where the eventual event is widescale, such as a ‘global catastrophe’ (and indeed impact is often said to threaten ‘all civilisation’ or ‘all life’ or ‘the planet, or ‘the world’ as in we must do whatever to ‘save the world’) it does mean that all further predictions of similar widescale events are invalidated. In practice, there’s a constant stream of these pitched for later dates. But doing B2 to avoid a similar event at n+m now cannot be true, given the prior prediction in which we failed to do B1 means we’re already doomed (but actual doom is still in the pipeline). Or alternatively, if doing B2 to avoid the event *is* now true, all *prior* predictions must be false and only this last one is true.
The problem with the prediction of doing Bx to avoid a global doom event of similar character driven by minor variants of a common cause (ultimately the single driver of ACO2), is that this can only be one-off. The date that matters is when we were supposed to have achieved B by, i.e. when n expires. Once that date is passed, either the prediction is right so all subsequent predictions that keep on coming and grant more room for B2, B3, etc. are wrong, OR the original prediction was wrong but maybe the next one is right. And so on in series.
In the file of ~180 catastrophe narrative quotes to be found here:
Click to access footnotes.pdf
…the following examples proclaim essentially arbitrary dates by which B1 to Bx must be achieved in order to avoid certain global catastrophe (phrased in various ways with the same essential meaning).
• Example 1c)i] a metaphorical deadline already stated as in the past!
• Example 1o) from October 2006, 10 or 15 years.
• Example 1r) from May 2014, 500 days.
• Example 1s) from April 2014, two decades.
• Example 1t) from September 2009, 87 days.
• Example 1w) from March 2009, 100 months.
• Example 1x) from December 2011, now.
• Example 2d) from February 2009, in the next year.
• Example 2g) from March 2009, hours.
• Example 2i) from October 2018, by 2050.
• Example 2j) from May 2012, five years.
• Example 2k) from July 2017, by 2020 (fundamental change), a few decades (net zero).
• Example 3a) from August 2008, 100 months.
• Example 5ba) from September 2009, just six years from now.
• Example 6f) from late 2016, as little as nine years.
• Example 6n) from May 2018, about ten years.
• Example 8d), from September 2018, in the next few years (coordinated global action), 2050 (net zero).
If they are all laid out on a timeline, it’s possible that a small minority would be essentially ‘equivalent’. Other than that possibility, essentially only 1 prediction can be right. And if all the others are wrong, why should we believe that any one of them is right? If one is right, who can tell us which one? And this is completely aside from portraying ‘n’ as the event date and not the prevention expiry, as John notes.
Far more examples state huge urgency but don’t provide a date. From a cultural narrative point of view these don’t provide quite the same level of stimulation and correspondent emotive commitment, but they have the advantage of never being invalidated by the next prediction in the series. As a good population of diverse narrative variants would be expected to do, both bases (indeed hundreds of different bases / approaches) are covered.
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P.S. Generally, the consequences of missing a stated deadline are pitched in whatever language as essentially ‘certain’ catastrophe. However, where it is only say ‘highly likely’, one can imagine if the effort to avoid Bx within n for a series of Bx, dramatically increased the effort for later instances, then some later predictions may essentially be equivalent to earlier ones having less effort, and hence still avoid the likelihood of the event. I.e. extra exertion recaptured the situation. However even in this case, given the already dramatic conditions for pretty much all deadline pitches, the required effort would surely go very quickly off the scale of the possible anyhow.
P.S. Generally, the consequences of missing a stated deadline are pitched in whatever language as essentially ‘certain’ catastrophe. However, where it is only say ‘highly likely’, one can imagine if the effort to avoid A within n for a series of Ax, dramatically increased the effort Bx for later instances, then some later predictions may essentially be equivalent to earlier ones having less effort, and hence still avoid the likelihood of the event. I.e. extra exertion recaptured the situation. However even in this case, given the already dramatic conditions for pretty much all deadline pitches, the required effort would surely go very quickly off the scale of the possible anyhow.
I like a good apocalypse. I like the Walking Dead (though I haven’t watched series 9 or 10 yet so no spoilers). My first two books were about apocalypses (in the modern sense) – one caused by vampyres (note the “y”) and the other by what were in effect “fantasy missiles.” I think that the end of the world and most especially its survival by a heroic or just lucky band actually twangs an eternal chord in the human mind. As much as we are repelled by the thought of real catastrophe, we might be attracted, just a bit, to the idea of it.
The prediction of apocalypse is also an inevitable end point in a fearmongering bidding war: if people don’t do what you want when you warn them of slightly warmer summers, there is an understandable tendency for the warning to be ratchetted up, even if the real danger itself is the same. There are natural parallels to be drawn with the climate apocalypse and the old-time concept of hell. Here, because the punishment was remote and people are short termist, the punishment prophecied for bad behaviour ramped up until it became, on death, an unknown length of unimaginable torture followed by yet harsher judgement at the end of things. Preachers could not bring the punishment closer in time; because it had to wait until death, it inevitably spiralled into the worst punishment imaginable. And still there were sinners.
But the climate apocalypse has the edge on the Old Church, because it is promised to us while we are still alive. The aim is the same, the banishment of sin, but this apocalypse is more pernicious because it is temporal. Note that the old-time furies ranked unbelief at the top of their sin pop charts. Denial is similarly despised today. In both cases this is less about the unbelievers (I guess) than about the example they set for others in the flock. I see none of this as conscious, mere meme-level selection at play.
Naturally apocalyptic stories generate more interest than moderate ones, and news outlets are therefore inclined to float them. There is a disappointing level of critical thinking that allows obvious tosh to be printed as fact. (Even when no-one, the scientists, journalists, or readers, probably believes it.)
Only if we the great unwashed tire of these things will they wither.
I’m still waiting for a final response to my complaint about the BBC’s article “Climate Change: Oceans Running Out of Oxygen as Temperatures Rise.”
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I have to say, the Guardian rarely disappoints when it comes to the forthcoming Apocalypse. Here’s today’s offering:
“Climate crisis: our children face wars over food and water, EU deputy warns
Exclusive: Frans Timmermans says older people need to make sacrifices to protect the future”
“Older people will have to make sacrifices in the fight against climate change or today’s children will face a future of fighting wars for water and food, the EU’s deputy chief has warned.
Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the EU commission, said that if social policy and climate policy are not combined, to share fairly the costs and benefits of creating a low-carbon economy, the world will face a backlash from people who fear losing jobs or income, stoked by populist politicians and fossil fuel interests.
He said: “It’s not just an urgent matter – it’s a difficult matter. We have to transform our economy. There are huge benefits, but it’s a huge challenge. The biggest threat is the social one. If we don’t fix this, our children will be waging wars over water and food. There is no doubt in my mind.””
Did anyone else clock this rather strange article?
I hadn’t, MIAB, but thanks for drawing it to my attention. Strange it may be, but it’s interesting too – more interesting than much of the dross that passes for “science & environment” at the BBC these days.
I once compiled an archive listing all the Guardian’s climate change articles from 1907 to 2011. They’ve changed the format of their “past articles” pages since, so it’s no longer possible to update the archive by copy-and-paste. I’ve tried and failed to make it available here as a header page in the orange band at the top, but something, possibly my aged Mac, baulks at uploading 667 pages at once. Could someone in Cliscep’s High Command (technical division) give me a hand?
Each entry (there’s about 10,000 of them) contains the article title, subheading, author, and sometimes URL, making searching easy. (The Guardian’s own search facility is highly defective/selective, in that it gives you a limited number of searches – about 50 – either by relevance – i.e. random – or by date.)
With my archive you can for example find all the articles with commenting allowed by searching “comments.” A search for “Lomborg” turns up about twenty articles by him for 2008/9, plus several articles in reply, then – nothing. Something happened then – but what?
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@Geoff Chambers says: “twenty articles by him for 2008/9, plus several articles in reply, then – nothing. Something happened then – but what?”
circling of the wagons after climategate ?
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I agree. Anyone who knows anything about causal analysis will know that statements of the type “if you don’t do this by then, then that will happen eventually” place you in deep, deep, causal analysis doo-doo. There’s little scientific mileage in making such statements but they do have a political traction. Stacking up such statements doesn’t strengthen the science, it just results in an incoherent clamour. However, if clamour is what the politicians are looking for, then multiple, conditionally formed apocalyptic predictions will appeal.
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John, “…it just results in an incoherent clamour…”
Logically incoherent, I agree. But emotively, very highly coherent indeed. The latter is (measurably) what motivates public responses.
Alan K, more evidence about the propaganda around COPs:
“Then and now: When silence descended over Victoria Falls”
This is old news and was thoroughly debunked at the time, but it doesn’t stop the BBC running it again, for no apparent reason other than propaganda. The reason becomes apparent if you scroll all the way to the end of the article:
“Our Planet Then and Now will continue each month up to the UN climate summit in Glasgow, which is scheduled to start in November 2021”
Even Wisden is playing this game. In 2019, the editor declared “Climate change is the biggest long-term issue facing cricket.” From his editorial, I even learned that the MCC has a sustainability manager. In the environmental report, a novelty that first appeared in the 2018 almanack, the writer goes full bore mental right from the start:
” The UN Intergovernemental Panel on Climate Change reported in October that the world had 12 years to prevent the catastrophe which will result from temperature rises of more than 1.5 degrees C.”
MiaB. So sad. GolfCharlie over at Bishop Hill argued that records not based upon meteorological records might be used to demonstrate or refute climatic changes. One of the records he was particularly enthusiastic about was the earliest date that county cricket matches were possible without having to wait for frost to disappear from pitches. GC was adamant that the relevant information resided in Wisden. Now to find that Wisden has fallen to climate extremism. It makes you want to take off your bails.
“Can the world’s biggest polluters change their ways?”
“The clock is ticking with less than 30 years left to tackle carbon emissions”
Ah, we’re back to “less than 30 years”, which seems to be a reference to 2050, so there’s still lots of time left for the climate worriers to keep bleating on. Is this what they call “the great re-set”?
And here’s a variation on a theme. I’d love to see the questions they asked:
“Small majority believe there is still time to avert climate disaster – survey
Survey in 16 countries finds just over half of consumers believe their own behaviour can help”
“A small majority of people believe there is still time to make a difference and slow global heating, a survey of consumer attitudes in 16 countries reveals.
People aged 55 and over believe most strongly that their behaviour can make a positive difference to the environment. People in Brazil, Spain, Canada, Italy, China and Thailand are the most optimistic that if we act now there is still time to save the planet, the survey by Mintel found.
On average, 54% of those who were surveyed agreed that there was time to save the planet, and 51% believed their behaviour could make a positive difference to the environment.”
No chance to ask any questions in China, apparently…
“The survey took place in 16 countries: Brazil, India, China, Japan, the UK, the US, Italy, Spain, South Korea, Australia, Thailand, Canada, Ireland, France, Poland and Germany.”
“People in Italy (20%), Brazil (21%), South Korea (24%), and Spain (29%) were the least likely to believe their country was contributing to climate change. Those in the UK (44%), Germany (45%), the US (46%) and Canada (51%) were the most likely to believe their nation was culpable.”
And depressingly for climate worriers:
“Despite the evidence of awareness among the buying public of climate responsibility and the impact of individual choices, the survey also revealed that in the 16 nations many individuals wanted solutions to make their lives easier, but which would put the planet more at risk.” Doesn’t augur well for the UK Government’s “net zero” agenda.
“Extinct review – firenadoes, melting ice and one hour to halt apocalypse”
“Theatre Royal Stratford East, London
Featuring plague and shootouts in M&S, XR supporter April De Angelis’s dystopic climate drama is a powerful, urgent polemic”
“Extinct makes the point that climate apocalypse is within sight – not so very removed from the initial, imagined scenario in 2030, and that we need to act. “I have an hour to convert you to the cause of climate change,” says the narrator. Even if Extinct preaches to the converted, there is plenty of power in that. Here, it feels necessary and urgent.”
I could be flippant and say that far from “less than 30 years” we now have just “one hour” to avert the Guardian’s apocalypse. Still, this one has moved the date from 2050 to 2030, so I’m quite optimistic that I’ll live to be able to say “what happened to that 2030 deadline?” when the climate worriers are continuing to bleat (as I wager they will) about climate change in 2031.
Well, I think this is suitably Apocalyptic, and the Observer is the Guardian’s sister-paper:
“The Observer view on the urgency of tackling climate change
We are losing the race to keep our planet cool”
“In such a future, more than a quarter of the world’s population would be likely to experience extreme drought for at least one month a year; rainforests would face eradication; melting ice sheets would result in dangerous sea level rises and trigger major changes in the behaviour of ocean currents such as the Gulf Stream. In addition, loss of reflective ice from the poles would cause oceans to absorb more solar radiation, while melting permafrost in Siberia and other regions would release plumes of methane, another greenhouse gas. Inevitably, temperatures would soar even further.
This terrifying prospect has come about because politicians and business leaders have failed, for several decades, to appreciate the risks involved in massively interfering with the make-up of our atmosphere and to instigate measures to limit the damage. As a result, the world faces a climate catastrophe with little time left to act to counter the threat. We now have fewer than 100 days before the United Nations’s Cop26 climate change conference opens in Glasgow, when world leaders will be given one last, clear chance to limit climatic mayhem.”
100 days to save the planet.
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Mark, the anonymous editorial also says, after listing a series of weather (and wildfire) events: “Global warming, triggered by rising levels of greenhouse gases, has been implicated in every case.” Yet without any reference whatsoever to any records saying these events are unusual wrt long-term records or any attribution studies for the events or indeed any link to more generic studies / data suggesting at least this direction for similar events even if not a direct link to these particular events. Or even any unsupported pronouncement by a scientist of some sort. The links to weather events similarly have no support, although one says “scientists see” climate disruption is part of the issue (without saying which ones or providing a link), and for the German flood the Finance Minister said climate-change is a cause… before any investigation or knowledge thereof which might inform about local preparedness and state of the river-system / flood defences etc, long-term patterns in the area or anything. And like a finance minister is best placed to know this before any such investigation anyhow.
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Last night I had the misfortune of watching a horror film that my wife had recorded from the TV. It was called ‘Crawl’, and it told the tale of a woman and her father trapped in the flooded basement of their Florida home during the passing of a hurricane. Escape should have been straightforward but was hampered through the attentions of a colony of oversized and over-interested swamp alligators. Anyway, after 90 minutes of gore, CGI reptiles and bad acting I was finally relieved of my ordeal. As is my wont, I immediately turned to Wikipedia to enjoy the inevitable panning the film must have received from the critics. To my disappointment, however, it was particularly appreciated for its gore, CGI reptiles and acting. It was even praised for being only 90 minutes long. However, the real disappointment set in when I read the following:
“Writing for Thrillist, Emma Stefansky said the film was thrilling enough to scare viewers but stated that ‘it’s the looming menace of climate change and its consequences that ought to scare us the most’.”
“The Hill ranked Crawl as one of the top ten films of the year tackling climate change in an effective manner.”
No, I’m sorry, but it’s still the idea of having 30 foot alligators in my basement that scares me the most. And as for ‘tackling climate change in an effective manner’, I’m going to have to consult my dictionary. Clearly the word ‘tackle’ has changed its meaning since the last time I looked.
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And whilst we are on the subject of large alligators and climate change:
Mark, the “100 days to save the planet” remark reminded of this from the Guardian back in 2008!!!
“100 months to save the world
The final countdown
Time is fast running out to stop irreversible climate change, a group of global warming experts warns today. We have only 100 months to avoid disaster. Andrew Simms explains why we must act now – and where to begin”
if you want a laugh go to website link at the bottom – http://www.onehundredmonths.org/
the “How to Save World” page is a must read ?
dfhunter, how did I miss 100 months to save the world in 2008 when I wrote the article? Because it was one of dozens, if not hundreds, in similar vein, I guess. But thanks for providing the link. The more the merrier!
I think this qualifies as Apocalyptic:
“”How many years until we must act on climate? Zero, say these climate thinkers
Jennifer Francis , Michael Mann , Holly Jean Buck and Peter Kalmus
We asked a panelist of experts on when we need to start changing our economies and ways of consuming and producing. Their answer: now”
“Peter Kalmus: ‘Zero years’
We have zero years before climate and ecological breakdown, because it’s already here. We have zero years left to procrastinate. The longer we wait to act, the worse the floods, fires, droughts, famines and heatwaves will get….
…With every fraction of a degree, the floods and fires and heat will get worse. Coastal cities will be abandoned. Ocean currents will shift. Crops will fail. Ecosystems will collapse. Hundreds of millions will flee regions with humid heat too high for the human body. Geopolitics will break down. No place will be safe. These disasters are like gut punches to our civilization….
…Jennifer Francis: ‘We cannot wait’
We need to immediately stop subsidizing all aspects of the fossil fuel industry. According to this report, the fossil fuel industry received…
[that report, by the way, is here:
Time to reference Jit’s “The UK’s Obscene Fossil Fuel Subsidies for a corrective].
“Michael Mann: ‘Strictly speaking, zero’
How many years do we have to act? Strictly speaking, zero – which is to say, that we must act, in earnest, now. We have a decade within which we must halve global carbon emissions.!
[Crafty – we still have 10 years left. If we have no time left, we might as well give up].
“Holly Jean Buck: ‘We need action now’
We need to ramp up action now in order to transform all of our major systems by 2050: energy, transportation, industry, agriculture, waste management. We’ll need to eat less meat, farm in ways that store more carbon in the soils, reforest degraded or abandoned land and restore wetlands.
We need to force companies to outfit cement plants and other industrial facilities with carbon capture technologies. When it comes to energy, we need to electrify everything. This means replacing gas-fired heating systems with an electric heat pump in your home and swapping out gas-fired stoves. It means inventing new types of energy storage for those times when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining, and getting used to responding to the grid – for example, turning down your air conditioning when the power company says there isn’t enough power (or letting them control your thermostat).
It means shutting down fossil fuel power plants and ramping up wind, solar, geothermal and probably nuclear, as well as building new transmission lines. Our targets should be 60% renewable electricity by 2030, and 90% by 2050.”
[Time to reference my “Climate Goals End in Penalties”].
“We’re on the brink of catastrophe, warns Tory climate chief
Cop26 meeting is last chance, says Alok Sharma as he backs UK’s plan for new oil and gas fields”
“The world will soon face “catastrophe” from climate breakdown if urgent action is not taken, the British president of vital UN climate talks has warned.
Alok Sharma, the UK minister in charge of the Cop26 talks to be held in Glasgow this November, told the Observer that the consequences of failure would be “catastrophic”: “I don’t think there’s any other word for it. You’re seeing on a daily basis what is happening across the world. Last year was the hottest on record, the last decade the hottest decade on record.”
But Sharma also insisted the UK could carry on with fossil-fuel projects, in the face of mounting criticism of plans to license new oil and gas fields. He defended the government’s record on plans to reach net zero emissions by 2050, which have been heavily criticised by the UK’s independent Committee on Climate Change, and dismissed controversies over his travel schedule.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading authority on climate science, will publish a comprehensive report on Monday showing how close humanity is to the brink of potentially irreversible disaster caused by extreme weather.
“This is going to be the starkest warning yet that human behaviour is alarmingly accelerating global warming and this is why Cop26 has to be the moment we get this right. We can’t afford to wait two years, five years, 10 years – this is the moment,” Sharma warned, in his first major interview since taking charge of the climate talks.
“I don’t think we’re out of time but I think we’re getting dangerously close to when we might be out of time. We will see [from the IPCC] a very, very clear warning that unless we act now, we will unfortunately be out of time.”…”.
So that’s it, Apocalypse beckons, this is the last chance, act now or we will be out of time. OK, it’s the Observer this time, but it is the Guardian’s sister paper, so I think it counts as another Guardian Apocalypse story (unless it has to go down as a Sharma Apocalypse). By the way, was 2020 the hottest year on record? Yes, according to NASA. No, according to NOAA and the Met Office:
“‘Apocalypse soon’: reluctant Middle East forced to open eyes to climate crisis
With the region warming twice as fast as the rest of the world but oil spoils keeping regimes in power, leaders are in a bind”
Apart from the apocalyptic language, it’s quite an interesting read, and the writer does at least recognise that Iranian droughts are contributed to by “mismanagement, western sanctions” and of course “killer heat”.
And there is a considerable dose of reality:
“Asked to comment on the IEA report, including its call for a cessation of new oil investments, the Saudi energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, famously described it as a sequel to La La Land. “If I had to be concerned with IEA projections,” Abdulaziz said in Abu Dhabi during a public forum at the 24th World Energy Congress in 2019, “I probably [would] be [on] Prozac all the time.”
The Qatari energy minister, Saad al-Kaabi, said cutting off oil and gas production would cause damaging supply crunches, and laughed at “the euphoria around energy transition”. Opec’s own projections suggest oil demand will rise in absolute terms through to 2045, and oil’s share of world wide energy demand will fall only from 30% to 28%. Hardly a green revolution.
And looking at the current energy crunch, spiralling price of oil and predicted demand for oil this year, the case for a fast transition is harder to make than a year ago.
The Gulf States are still highly reliant on oil and gas exports, which remain more than 70% of total goods exports in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Oman, and on oil revenues, which exceed 70% of total government revenues in Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and Bahrain. In Vision 2030, published in 2016, the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, promised to turn the country into a diversified industrial power house. The reality is very different. The World Bank shows Saudi Arabia is still 75% dependent on oil exports for its budget.”
But the language of apocalypse is the main thing:
“And it is, of course, going to get much worse, as temperatures, humidity and waters rise. The Middle East is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world. By the end of the century, if the more dire predictions prove true, Mecca may not be habitable, making the summer Haj a pilgrimage of peril, even catastrophe. Large tracts of the Middle East will resemble the desert in Ethiopia’s Afar, , a vast expanse with no permanent human settlement pressed against the Red Sea. The gleaming Gulf coastal cities by the end of the century could find themselves inundated as waters rise. It is not quite Apocalypse Now, but Apocalypse Foreseeably Soon.”
Here’s another one with apocalyptic language, this time of Biblical proportions:
“We know who caused the climate crisis – but they don’t want to pay for it
My country, Uganda, and much of Africa has been battered by climate-related disasters. Cop26 is a chance for the biggest polluters to set up a compensation fund”
“Uganda has been battered by floods in recent years, as well as droughts and plagues of locusts. So much has been damaged and lost here as a result of the climate crisis.”
Her government doesn’t seem to agree:
Uganda’s weather conditions are ideal, ranging from the warmth of the lowland areas to the coolness of the highlands in the South West Kigezi.
For most of the year, Uganda is sunny with temperatures rarely rising above 29 degrees. The average temperature is about 26 degrees C, with a maximum of 18-31 degrees and minimum of 15-23 degrees depending on the part of the country.
The rain season is March-May. Light rain season is November and December. Wet seasons are March –May and October-November; dry seasons are December to February and June to August.
Rainfall ranges between 500mm to 2500 mm and the relative humidity is 70 – 100%. The rainfall regime allows two planting and harvesting seasons a year in most parts of the country, without the use of irrigation.”
“Apocalypse now? The alarming effects of the global food crisis”
Actually, by Guardian/Observer standards this is reasonably balanced and informative, but given the article’s headline, I couldn’t resist posting it here.
“‘Soon it will be unrecognisable’: total climate meltdown cannot be stopped, says expert”
“The crucial point, he [Prof Bill McGuire] argues, is that there is now no chance of us avoiding a perilous, all-pervasive climate breakdown. We have passed the point of no return and can expect a future in which lethal heatwaves and temperatures in excess of 50C (120F) are common in the tropics; where summers at temperate latitudes will invariably be baking hot, and where our oceans are destined to become warm and acidic. “A child born in 2020 will face a far more hostile world that its grandparents did,” McGuire insists.
In this respect, the volcanologist, who was also a member of the UK government’s Natural Hazard Working Group, takes an extreme position. Most other climate experts still maintain we have time left, although not very much, to bring about meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. A rapid drive to net zero and the halting of global warming is still within our grasp, they say.
Such claims are dismissed by McGuire. “I know a lot of people working in climate science who say one thing in public but a very different thing in private. In confidence, they are all much more scared about the future we face, but they won’t admit that in public. I call this climate appeasement and I believe it only makes things worse. The world needs to know how bad things are going to get before we can hope to start to tackle the crisis.”…”
Time, then, by this logic, to say that we only have x years to save the planet. Instead we should concentrate on adaptation (which is what we sceptics have been saying for ages). And indeed, this appears to be the conclusion:
“From this perspective it is clear we can do little to avoid the coming climate breakdown. Instead we need to adapt to the hothouse world that lies ahead and to start taking action to try to stop a bleak situation deteriorating even further, McGuire says.”
Except that those last words hint at still trying forlornly to mitigate. And so it proves:
“…The future is forbidding from this perspective, though McGuire stresses that if carbon emissions can be cut substantially in the near future, and if we start to adapt to a much hotter world today, a truly calamitous and unsustainable future can be avoided. The days ahead will be grimmer, but not disastrous. We may not be able to give climate breakdown the slip but we can head off further instalments that would appear as a climate cataclysm bad enough to threaten the very survival of human civilisation.
“This is a call to arms,” he says. “So if you feel the need to glue yourself to a motorway or blockade an oil refinery, do it. Drive an electric car or, even better, use public transport, walk or cycle. Switch to a green energy tariff; eat less meat. Stop flying; lobby your elected representatives at both local and national level; and use your vote wisely to put in power a government that walks the talk on the climate emergency.””
Even apocalypse believers seem to think that we need to destroy our lifestyles and economies to mitigate against the inevitable. If, as he argues, we have passed the point of no return, what’s the point? Or maybe he doesn’t really mean that we’ve passed the point of no return? Or maybe the Guardian has misunderstood him? Who can tell? I can’t make much sense of it all.
“The cult of the climate apocalypse
Green campaigners are not ‘following the science’ – they are promoting a Biblical fantasy.”