A recent piece in Climatewire by Scott Walderman, “‘Doomerism’: Why scientists disagree with Biden on 1.5 C”, begins:
Damned. Lost. Done. President Joe Biden keeps saying the world as we know it will be gone if global temperatures rise beyond 1.5 degrees.
Which led Michael Mann (a leading climate scientist/activist) to complain that Biden’s pitch was “misleading and unhelpful.” Mann continued:
It indeed feeds doomerism since there’s a very real possibility that we will fail to limit warming below 1.5 C. If we miss that exit ramp, we don’t continue headlong down the fossil fuel highway. We get off at the earliest possible exit.
Mann’s critique of Doomerism re Biden (or his handlers) applies equally to all the leading lights of modern neo-Malthusianism. Begin with the long careers of Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren. Continue with Al Gore, since at least Earth in the Balance (1992). Not to mention John (“running out of time to avoid irreversible impacts”) Kerry.
Consider too the dark words of United Nations’ head António Guterres, who declared last year:
We are on a fast track to climate disaster. Major cities under water. Unprecedented heatwaves. Terrifying storms. Widespread water shortages. The extinction of a million species of plants and animals. This is not fiction or exaggeration.
And as stated in this UN press release:
Reacting to the latest findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN Secretary-General insisted that unless governments everywhere reassess their energy policies, the world will be uninhabitable.
Turning to the scientists, the father of the climate alarm, James Hansen, stated back in 2006:
We have at most ten years—not ten years to decide upon action, but ten years to alter fundamentally the trajectory of global greenhouse emissions.
Scientist/activist Andrew Dessler, an ally of Mann in the climate wars, tweeted something close to Biden’s doomerism five years ago:
If we want to protect ecosystems & keep the Earth looking pretty much like it looks now, I have some bad news for you. That boat has sailed.
A climate pundit much admired by Mann, Bill McKibben, stated: “[Climate] is not only a crisis, it is the most thorough and complete crisis our species and our civilizations have ever faced, one there is no guarantee that we will survive intact.” And: “If we don’t win very quickly on climate change, then we will never win.” That was six years ago….
Mann’s admonition to avoid Doomerism brings up the aforementioned IPCC’s latest climate assessment, which chose the worst-case, much-maligned RCP8.5 scenario for its base case, leading to dire forecasts which were then exaggerated in the Policymakers Summary and again by the mainstream media.
And what about Michael Mann himself? In what could be labeled the case of Mann vs. Mann, he titled one of his books The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy (2016). Isn’t this doomerism on a planetary and personal level?
The fact is that climate alarmists walk a tightrope. They must exaggerate to grab the public’s attention and priorities but not exaggerate so much as to project hopelessness. Then the public might shift climate policies from (government) mitigation to (free-market) adaptation. That would all but disintegrate the mighty climate intellectual-industrial complex.
The high-wire act was acknowledged by climatologist Stephen Schneider in 1989 when he infamously stated that gaining “some broad based support” meant having “to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.” In the same year, Paul Ehrlich (with Robert Ornstein) stated:
In the long run CO2-induced warming would melt the polar ice caps, thus flooding many areas, putting New York City, Washington, D.C., and Sacramento, California, under water…. Florida would largely disappear, and much of the lower Mississippi River Valley would become an inland sea (New World, New Mind, p. 77).
Decades later, the lapping waters are not yet in sight. But, as always, the goalposts are reset to issue the alarms anew.
The alarmist dilemma was explored in a 2009 piece in the New York Times, “In Climate Debate, Exaggeration Is a Pitfall,” where Andrew C. Revkin caught Al Gore in a faux pas:
Mr. Gore, addressing a hall filled with scientists in Chicago, showed a slide that illustrated a sharp spike in fires, floods and other calamities around the world and warned the audience that global warming “is creating weather-related disasters that are completely unprecedented.” … Mr. Gore removed the slide from his presentation after the Belgian research group that assembled the disaster data said he had misrepresented what was driving the upward trend…. A spokeswoman for Mr. Gore said he planned to switch to using data on disasters compiled by insurance companies.
Exaggeration is a two-edged sword, which has even received rebuke from the Progressive Left. Fred Krupp of the Environmental Defense Fund once warned:
There has to be a lot of shrillness taken out of our language. In the environmental community, we have to be more humble. We can’t take the attitude that we have all the answers.
Failed prognostications by the climate activists have set up such rebuttals as Michael Shellenberger’s Apocalypse Never and Bjorn Lomborg’s False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet. Countering misinformation and hyperbole is daily fare at the world’s most viewed climate website, WUWT.
Doomslayer Julian Simon (1932–1998) was suspicious of the climate alarm as yet another in the litany of failed prognostications from Malthusianism. He preached humility in the face of alarmism.
The best we can do is to be alert and prudent. Exaggerated warnings can be counter-productive and dangerous (Ultimate Resource 2, 1996: p. 273).
Simon’s advice from more than a quarter-century ago rings true today. Alarmists need to check their premises. The rhetoric of “last chance” and “now or never” is tiring. Real here-and-now problems need the very resources that are being wasted on a futile, costly anti-CO2 crusade.