Keep the fear alive

It is easier to control people if they are scared. Towards that end, the global-warming fear-mongers have been upping their campaign, and may soon rival Dubya and the warnicks in terms of encouraging irrational fear for the purpose of selling bad (and expensive) government action.

In the SMH last week we were warned that “climate change may have passed a key tipping point” and reported a warning that “global warming was contributing to increased conflict over dwindling resources”. The example was Dafur.

The Courier Mail today has the title “climate change” over pictures of dry rivers and directs readers to page 4-5, which talk about the recent warm temperatures, the drought and the dying trees of poor defenceless pensioners.

Time magazine doesn’t bother with the subtle approach, seemingly borrowing their rhetoric directly from the “war of terror” and instructing readers to “BE WORRIED. BE VERY WORRIED“.

John Houghton continues the terror analogy by claiming that global warming actually is a weapon of mass destruction. Perhaps that mean it also doesn’t exist? He states that “the parallels between global climate change and global terrorism are becoming increasingly obvious” but he doesn’t draw the logical next conclusion that perhaps the government should stop and think carefully before they run straight into an expensive and potentially pointless policy.

But you don’t have to read the mainstream media to find the fear… it’s available closer to home and the best source of scary talk comes from Lambert’s blog. In discussions there, Jeff Harvey suggested:

“climate change, in combination with a range of other anthropogenic stresses, is pushing natural systems beyond a threshold where they can sustain themselves and us” … and … “we are going to see ‘ecological meltdown’ in the functioning of these systems, and their certain collapse”

Can’t sustain us? That sounds like a prediction of human extinction. He later backs away from the total-death scenario and says that some people will survive, but:

“I believe that many people will die and the quality of life for the surviving population will decline markedly if we do not change course in the coming decades” …and… “yes, life expectancy will decline in many parts of the world if we stay on the present course. Thanks to the ‘Washington Consensus’ and its attendant free market absolutism and predatory capitalism, I am very pessimistic that things will change in the short term”

He clarifies…

“By ‘markedly’ I mean that civilization as we know it will implode – there just are not enough resources given the current overdraught in the developed world alone to support 9 or 10 bllion people”

Scared yet? It gets better. Peter Barrett warns that “if we continue our present growth path, we are facing extinction … by the end of this century”. Leonardo DiCaprio agrees with the extinction idea in his recent global-warming-fear movie.

But how long do we have left before doom and gloom? CBS reports James Hansen saying we have 10 years before we risk  “a great danger of passing some of these tipping points”. The Independent says we have 10 years before the “point of no return”. The Guardian tells us we have eight years left to fix global warming. Sky reports WWF raising the bar again, saying we are five years away from climate catastrophy. And one report suggests that we will have 50 million climate change refugees by 2010.

And of course… like terrorism… the only solution to this problem is giving more money to your friendly gaggle of politicians and bureaucrats. With half the population scared of terrorists under their bed and the other half scared of co2, imagine the danger we face if terrorists start attacking us with carbon!

13 thoughts on “Keep the fear alive

  1. John,
    Your post is closely related to that of Sukrit below it, both are to do with the use of threats to society/humanity/existence, etc. to remove our freedoms and control us. It seems that our freedom is being attacked on multiple fronts. The thing is that both of you are right.

  2. Yep, they don’t just take your freedoms, they scare you into giving them up willingly. I wish we had a culture that guarded our freedoms more carefully.

  3. There’s something about humans that makes them want to believe the end of the world is imminent. History is absolutely full of it.

    Two that attracted a veneer of plausibility at the time were Malthus’ population explosion and The Club of Rome’s limits to growth.

    I could also mention Hanrahan, except it was a piss take. And of course there’s aliens and meteorites, which many think ought to be a piss take.

    Global warming will turn out to be no different. I just hope the economy is not stuffed in the meantime. The problem is not that these doom-religions come and go (that seems inevitable), but that the government is increasingly pressured to “do something”.

  4. To be fair (or perhaps genereous) to the doomsayers a few of them do also warn against the perils of despair and excess alarmism. Al Gore (somewhat ironically) does talk in his movie about the danger in leaping from denial to despair. And local proponent of Kyoto John Quiggin does write occasionally on the dangers of excess alarmism.

    I actually think a review of government subsidies and some rejigging of the tax system could go quite a significant way towards meeting the current demands of the more reasonable AGW proponents, whilst being mostly benign in economic terms. Certainly a shift away from income tax to indirect tax is something I generally favour.

    The question is where do the demands end. Fossil fuels in the transport sector are already subject to large taxes and the alternatives are not exactly leaping out of the laboratory. Incentives matter but you can’t readily entice blood out of a stone.

  5. “State of Fear”, by Michael Crichton, directly addresses this issue. The endless ‘Wars’ are another way to mobilize the voters behind the ruling powers. Fleeced tried to scare us into voting for him, and Pommygranate tried to entice us to vote for him. We have just proved that FEAR works!

  6. Read this the other day at

    It’s almost fear mongering in the opposite direction:

    “The public embrace of a movement as dreadfully destructive as environmentalism brings to mind the rush to embrace Hitler and the Nazi Party in the Germany of 1932 and 1933”
    “Nazism was a catastrophe. Environmentalism has the potential to be an even greater catastrophe—a far greater catastrophe than Nazism: one that will result in the deaths of billions rather than millions. This is because it is the diametric opposite of economic liberalism on a global scale. In contrast to liberalism and its doctrine of the harmony of the rightly understood self-interests of all men, environmentalism alleges the most profound conflict of interests among people. It implies that there is a major economic benefit to be obtained through the death of billions of fellow human beings, that, indeed, the well-being and prosperity of the survivors depends on the extermination of those billions.”

    The article is actually stating that to bring US CO2 emissions into proportion with the rest of the world, and allowing for population growth, that by 2050, the US would have to reduce CO2 emission by 94%.

    Personally, I was thinking the other day that it would actually be a good thing if CO2 had a significant influence on climate, because it is something we can easily control if needed, compared to solar events. However a free market system with no government envolvement would achieve the best results. And that’s the real issue people don’t understand.

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  8. We need to start looking at the adaption approach, for two reasons:

    1. It favours econmoic freedom – the sort of things which would be done to adapt mean everyone looks after their own stuff. For example, each city builds its own dykes to cope with sea level rise.

    2. While the science is fairly clear that temperatures are rising, there is a significant risk that a major cause is something other than CO2. Only adaptation covers all causes.

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  10. I don’t know whether the best way to go about this is from the point of view of “what me worry?”

    The point is that our attitude towards life doesn’t effect what goes on outside of our head. Particularly when we are talking about physical processes.

    So while we might laugh at the pathological fears that these people exhibit to the consequences of human action. And thats one angle of attack against this filth one supposes.

    But surely what to drive home is their total lack of evidence and their constant lying. Their relentless dishonesty and the fact that they’ve got EVERYTHING wrong and ass-backwards.

    I see far more INTENTION in the wrong-doing of the energy-deprivation-crusade then some people seem to.

    We might laugh at what we see as Lamberts supposed pathological fears. But its his relentless dishonesty, his lack of evidence, his refusal to come up with evidence, and his DDT-bureaucratisation-holocaust-denial that really pisses me off.

    And a good reason to talk about financing all our tax cuts from firing all the taxeaters.

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