Stop the Hysteria

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Guest Post by Thomas Fuller

After the tragic events in Maryland on Wednesday of this week, where a man  took three hostages and tried to make The Discovery Channel a vehicle for  publishing his manifesto, there have been accusations and counter accusations in  the global warming world about taking advantage of this to advance political  goals.

In particular, Joe Romm of Climate Progress harshly criticized Anthony  Watts for the title of his blog post alerting readers to the situation.  Personally, I think Anthony’s choice was mistaken, but not malicious–I’ve made  worse editorial decisions myself.

And this may be one of them. The deluge of catastrophic predictions  regarding global warming and its consequences have reached almost everyone on  the planet, and perhaps unintentionally have replaced Cold War bomb scares as  the primary source of doomsaying.

The messages are well-thought out and prepared  by professional communicators, with disturbing and graphic images of a  post-apocalyptic scenario lifted from Mad Max, and with about as much connection  to reality.

In March of this year, a couple in Argentina shot their two children before  committing suicide over fears of global warming. On Wednesday, in Maryland, James Lee apparently committed ‘suicide by cop’  after taking three hostages in an attempt to force the Discovery Channel to  alter its programming to suit his fears over the environment.

At what point will we call to account those who have preached ‘the end of  the earth as we know it’ to countless people? How many people will be driven to  desperation by those who distort the science?

The IPCC’s AR4, published in 2007, painted a future with global warming as  a serious, multinational problem that we should face together. You may agree or  disagree with their findings–I agree with most of it, not all.

But nowhere does the work of thousands of scientists in peer-reviewed  literature say that we are doomed, that civilization is at risk, that there is  no future for us.

That falls to several groups of committed lobbyists, scientists,  environmentalists and politicians who began saying the IPCC report was too  conservative almost the day it was published. The evidence they bring forward  for that claim is nowhere near as robust as the science referenced by the IPCC.

They are scaring people to death. How many more lives will be blighted or  destroyed before they understand that their propaganda has real world  effects?

It’s hard to work up too much sympathy for Mr. Lee–he took hostages,  threatened to detonate an explosive device, and pretty much guaranteed his fate.  And his worries weren’t confined to global warming. He was equally concerned  with overpopulation, another scare story put out by some of the same people  pumping hysteria over global warming.

At any rate, what these people are doing is despicable, if not murderous.

Sea levels are not going to rise by 20 feet. Or 10. Or five. There is not  going to be a climatic tipping point that pushes our planet into a spiral of  ever-increasing temperatures. Global warming is not going to cause the  extinction of half the species on this planet, or even 1%.

And it is long past time that respected members of the scientific community  publicly acknowledge those facts and helped bring this debate back within the  realm of reality.

My father met Jim Jones briefly before he moved to Guyana with his flock,  and described him as intelligent and persuasive, able to talk reasonably about a  multitude of subjects. We don’t need more smooth talkers preaching the language  of despair. We can now see the results. In their zeal to communicate their fears  of the effects of global warming that go far beyond the predictions of  mainstream science, those who Anthony called ‘warmistas’ in his blog title and  who I call alarmists and sometimes hysterics have created a library of  disturbing words and images that can influence the vulnerable.

Are these people responsible for the tragedies in Argentina and Maryland?  No. But did they act responsibly, caveating their predictions as personal fears  instead of the verdict of science. No. They were trying to scare you. They  succeeded too well.

It’s time to stop the hysteria.

Thomas Fuller http://www.redbubble.com/people/hfuller


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R. de Haan

It’s time to stop the hysteria:
You can start here:
http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/09/harry_reid_and_energy_legislat.html

This Greenpeace video of an angry kid is a fine example of doom saying:

Henry chance

Wearing my psychologist hat, Romm was claiming “messaging” was the problem. Not instense enough. So this guy understood the intense urgency. Hansen even writes about a wipe out bad world for his grand kids.
I read the terrorists manifesto and it lines up very accuraely with the “messaging”.
Fear of peak food. Over population is another fear. If the greenie weenies want to declare war and justice on skeptics, surely some will overdose on the koolaid and act out.
Read this guys manifesto. There isn’t anything uncommon in his beliefs. Was it drafted by the science is in peers?

Douglas DC

By the constant drum beat of “all is lost” “repent!” the events of yesterday were
inevitable….
Very reasoned post…

roger

Were there to be any truth at all in the scenarios painted in the name of AGW, almost all governments would classify the information and the populaces would be the last to know.
The very fact that they trumpet the nonsense throughout the media gives great comfort: we are safe in the knowledge that this is yet another tax raising scam and ultimately for the benefit of politicians’ post retirement opportunities.
And that is the definitive answer.

Richard M

Tom,
While I agree with most of your essay, I think those that preach hysteria DO have some responsibility for events created by those who are influenced by that hysteria.

Jacob

Tom,
You once wrote about the moral dilema of renouncing to some of our assets for the sake of conserving the planet.
Good to see that you also appreciate the moral hazard of disseminating hysteria and fear mongering. And the moral problem of falsely invoking science where there is no scientific evidence.

Curiousgeorge

And just now another oil platform blew up just off the LA coast, so this will add to the hysteria and politics of green. http://www.wafb.com/Global/story.asp?S=13089364

Dave D

Interesting though, that they excesses listed have all been from Warmist Believers, sold on Doom by the Establishment. While greedy, paid skeptics, deniers, and flat earthers have not lost their marbles, taken hostages, committed murders or even, if I may be forgiven – over stated their facts in the first place. We’ve just been saying, slow down there Nelly!

latitude

I’ve yet to have it explained to me how a longer growing season, animals having a longer season to mate and raise babies, and somehow warmer and longer growing seasons are a bad thing.
The rest of it is pure theatrics……..

Ben D.

This was the same thing Michael Crichton wrote about in his novel “State of Fear” which I know a lot of people are against environmentally, but there was also other ideas in there just kind of related to it.
He devoted a few pages to annalyzing the media headlines and advocates thereof on their “doom” thinking after the end of the Cold War. He talked about (which the novel name was based on) the culture of fear where media hypes up people’s fears…and just lets the fears take hold. He cautioned that this approach was going to have consequences…..
In addition, he advocated the abolition of all current environmental organizations and the creation of new ones that would work to understand and protect the environment in a responsible way. Its too bad this thought was not taken seriously because once the chicken little routine is done, environmentalism is on a collision course with angry Americans who will feel anti-green just because of this entire episode. This will be a true tragedy in the end.
Its a bad situation overall when there will be a large hole in true environmental organizations…we do need to be responsible with the environment, but that cuts both ways. Being honest in press releases and protecting the environment are both just as important issues.

Alexander Davidson

Hadley has recently concluded that if you strip out El Nino and La Nina effects, the temperature change from 1999 to 2008 was a Big Zero K.
Global warming has landed, probably to be replaced by climate change, downwards. August in the UK was the coldest for 17 years. The night of 31st August was the coldest at Leeming RAF station [Yorkshire] since records began in 1947.
And if you look critically at IPCC data and assumptions, its predicted AGW forcing of c. 1.5 W/m^2 has within it an assumed 0.7W/m^2 from ‘cloud albedo cooling’ for which there is not experimental proof. Furthermore, look at NASA’s claimed scientific explanation of it, apparently believed by most if not all working in climate science: http://terra.nasa.gov/FactSheets/Aerosols/
‘The high aerosol concentrations in these clouds provide the nucleation points necessary for the formation of many small liquid water droplets. Up to 90% of visible radiation (light) is reflected back to space by such clouds’
It’s totally wrong physics which replaces the original partially correct optical scattering physics devised initially by Bohren as an approximation which cannot predict more than 50% albedo, and for thick clouds gives no droplet size dependence.
Has someone or some organisation been telling scientific fibs?

Repent: the end is near (and always has been).

Happen to write a similar posting entitled ” Defeated & Frustrated: Climate Activists Turn to Terror, Go Berserk” http://devconsultancygroup.blogspot.com/2010/09/defeated-frustrated-climate-activists.html

Andy L

The very idea of this post is ridiculous and offensive (not to mention every bit as hysterical as you accuse AGW supports of being). Putting the actions of a madman at the feet of his particular delusion is inappropriate and illogical — it’s like blaming Jodie Foster for John Hinckley. Let’s continue to make this discussion about the facts and the science, and lose the hysterical rhetoric.

James Sexton

Thank you, Thomas Fuller, for articulating what many of us have been attempting to since this tragic fiasco started.

Mike Davis

Here I will disagree because the actions of the followers should be placed directly at the feet of those who make the dramatic public statements and they should be held accountable for the actions of their followers. The Discovery Channel is not an innocent victim in this situation but helped promote the outcome!

Jackie

Environ Mentalism & Warmism are religions like any other. You have to preach doomsaying at every opportunity to keep the flock interested and in fear. No matter the religion you cannot prevent what happened yesterday until the doomsday predictions stop and that is not going to happen.

DocattheAutopsy

Nice post. The “warmistas” certainly pour a lot of emotion into pushing their idea that the world is about to burn to a crisp. Look at the work by Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, James Cameron– all people who have a vested interested in appealing to your emotions.
Scientists should work by reason and analysis. I’ve seen too many scientists abandon the core principles of discovering how the world works and instead try and push some unsupported conclusion through research findings.
I remember when I was an undergraduate and we were analyzing samples in independent projects. My project was to determine concentration of phosphates released by dishwashing detergents. (A tedious project that ended up giving me a water bill of $120 for that month.) But one of my classmates was determining the concentration of nicotine in cigarettes. Her nicotine concentrations for several cigs were way off, and for 3 varieties the concentration was 0/cigarette. The conclusions she should have drawn was obvious. But instead, she showed a video of a congressional committee meeting with Rep. Waxman from California talking about the dangers of smoking, and her conclusion was the smoking was bad for you.
Now I’m not going to start smoking because her methods for nicotine determination were shoddy. Her premise, however, was laughable because it relied on an emotional argument instead of a scientific one.
There are many causes for people trying to generate biased research, from the nefarious such as political belief and attempts to generate funding, to the innocuous such as misinterpreting data and unknowingly working from a faulty premise. The rational investigator should understand the flaws and adjust research methods to discover the truth. Injection of emotion perpetuates the problem.

Enneagram

WUWT has made one of the greatest contributions for the sanity of mankind. The best we can do to stop these armageddonian prophecies is to take them and to treat them as they are: A JOKE, a monumental joke which is a menace also, as it can provoke death by laughing.
[snip]

As Edward Bernays (Freud’s nephew and developer of modern advertising and media manipulation) indicated, you can “drive” the common consensus by appealing to the baser and primal instincts of the masses.
This is a publicity campaign and not a scientific endeavor. The driving force is simply the massive amounts of money that are available for impure scientific research. Impure in the sense that it is agenda driven, with conclusions used to shape both the endeavor as well as its interpretation.
Supporters include not only the scientists set to profit from the research but all of the financial sectors that no longer have “industrialized” profit centers. Those have slipped away into the Asian hinterlands such that money begets money rather than productivity. Carbon credits? Carbon exchanges? Same as derivatives and CDS and CDO etc. Those unfortunate individuals (the masses, actually) have been co-opted into this program of “save us from ourselves” which is the ideal manipulative tool to get those individuals to give up their values and rights without objection.
Climate-gate will doubtless go down in history as the definitive “bubble-burster”, before the bubble got moderately inflated. We should be thankful for that person or persons that were responsible for revealing the whole rotten mess. WUWT, Climate Audit, JoNova and other sites of “reason” must continue to stand firm against the onslaught, as the tide is turning in favor of rationality. Fear-mongering and “sky-is-falling” rhetoric eventually get exposed for what they are, if we continue to chip away at them.

H.R.

The opposing skeptic cry which might produce hysteria is, “Don’t wreck the (any) nation’s economy on CO2 abatement.”
Skeptics can get mighty riled up about that, but somehow, it doesn’t seem exactly equal to CAGW hysteria.

TJA

Would you go into the Discovery Channel building with a gun and a bomb to stop the coal cars heading into power plants if you really believed that they were equivalent to the trains to Auschwitz?

Enneagram

DocattheAutopsy says:
September 2, 2010 at 9:07 am
You touch a very interesting point. We should investigate what was the real motivation behind that serie of prohibitions, which began many years before the Global Warming scam. What was its purpose?, why these were made and promoted by the very same people?. Were/are they so altruistic as to worry about our health?, don’t think so, “follow the money” and you’ll find the answer.

DR

Some posters at Joe Romm’s were trying to link James Lee to “righties” because he wanted to stop illegal immigration. What was his reasoning? To prevent births of more humans; the Malthusian mandate. Isn’t population control a main tenet of radical enviros? Why yes it is.
Not all environmentalists are eco terrorists, but all eco terrorists are environmentalists 🙂

Esp, this is still my favorite video:
Hippies Wail for Dead Trees – Watch more Funny Videos

Enneagram

Enneagram says:
September 2, 2010 at 9:08 am
Moderator: That SNIP proves that you almost died by laughing!

Nigel Brereton

Stop the Hysteria……… Stop the Prophesy…….. Simples (shwick)

hunter

Tom,
You sum up very well what I have been trying to say for years, and you have said it much better.
Thank you very much for being a voice of reason in what is becoming increasingly unreasonable.

Bruckner8

I’m sorry, but this post smacked of “Gee, can’t we all just get along?” Give me break. There will always be hucksters, power-players and plenty of meek to go along with them. I admit that I read maybe less than 1% of the stuff re: this latest nutjob. When it came on the news, I tuned the channel…I couldn’t take the journalistic/editorial comments about “why did he do it?”
He’s a mentally ill person. So are the people who killed their kids b/c of GW. The fact that hucksters brought the perpetrators’ illnesses to the fore means practically NOTHING. These sick people made bad decisions, on their own volition. Society probably had plenty of warning concerning these individuals, but chose to do nothing about it. Funny thing, freedom. Freedom has forced us to mainstream everyone. Freedom forces us to give every last chance; not allowing us to predict the future.
The free and sane have every right to choose their environment and science (ie, buyer beware). The free and sane have deemed it necessary to incorporate the insane into society; to leave them be; to not judge them beyond their “quirks.”
This is one of the prices of freedom. Bad science is a price of freedom. Bad government is a price of freedom, until it takes freedoms away (oh, wait…)
I think it’s silly to blame AGW proponents for insane acts such as these. Can we move on, please?

Doubting Thomas

Another eco-terrorist in training.
Listen to the hate dripping through the monologue.
Listen to the not so hidden threats.
Already got his hoody on. Just needs his ski mask. Another martyr, a tool, another useful idiot of the left.
Greenpeace – just another terrorist breeding organization.

Zeke

The Story of Lies: Greenpeace in Your Kid’s Schoool
‘In case you weren’t reading the New York Times front page today, we wanted to point you to an especially disturbing story. The Times wrote about The Story of Stuff, “a 20-minute video about the effects of human consumption, [which] has become a sleeper hit in classrooms across the nation.” What classrooms? Very likely the school your child attends, since over 7,000 American schools or churches have ordered the DVD.
The Story of Stuff highlights the very extreme left’s Greenpeace view of America. Essentially it tells the story of how America is not a nation to be proud of, and in fact, your child should be ashamed for living in it. For example: after implying that the radios for sale in Radio Shack are assembled by 15 year olds in Mexico, and by purchasing one, you contribute to the exploitation of the third world and the eventual end of the Earth, the film’s creator and narrator Annie Leonard says…’
http://blog.heritage.org/2009/05/11/the-story-of-lies-greenpeace-in-your-kids-school/

latitude

“The deluge of catastrophic predictions regarding global warming and its consequences have reached almost everyone on the planet, and perhaps unintentionally have replaced Cold War bomb scares as the primary source of doomsaying.”
Tom, it’s the same reason that horror movies are so popular.
People like to be scared of something, then the herd mentality kicks in,
and the more people that act scared, etc etc
But you can only play that for so long, people have short attention spans.
The movie business is smart enough to capitalize on it though.
They know when the fear factor wears thin, to turn those films into
something to make fun of.
Global warming has run from Gore’s horror movie, to old tired and overit now.
The best they can hope for is to turn it into a “slasher” movie, so people will
still pay to see it.
Then they forget the “kid” factor. Kids rebel. As soon as global warming becomes something that their parents are all about, they will have nothing to do with it.
It won’t be cool any more.

Thomas Fuller
Thought provoking post. Although I wouldn’t want to blame warmists for a particular incident by someone obviouslty deranged, the wider point can be made that we are breeding a generation of nihilists who believe the world is going to end soon and that its our fault and no one is doing anything about it, so why should they be bothered to become part of society and make a contribution?
I came across ths attitude ,most recently when delivering a lecture on the history of climate change to a class of 11 year olds. Not only were they convinced the end was nigh and it was all OUR fault but the degree of scientific ignorance was astonishing. The atmosphere apparently comprises around 80% Co2 of which man has contributed 100%.
Certainly the doom mongers,whether scientists, activists or media have a duty to be more responsible in the message they give out but I’m not holding my breath that will happen.
tonyb

Michael Jankowski

So the “warmista” in the headline is inappropriate, but widely-used “denier” (referencing the Holocaust, of course) is acceptable?

R. de Haan
JDN

I support Watts.
The enemy has made themselves an enemy of mankind. They’ve used the rhetoric of the big lie and an endless series of threats against anyone who opposes them. To concede any ground to them at this point is appeasement. They did it. They programmed this guy (and others). They might as well have been in the building, because, they don’t disagree enough to actually condemn this behavior and their own behavior that caused it. They are guilty. Don’t let them get away with it.
Misanthropy is to be wiped out.

MikeEE

ExpVid
That was truly a very disturbing video and Greenpeace is truly a despicable organization.
MikeEE

Khwarizmi

The evidence they bring forward for that claim is nowhere near as robust as the science referenced by the IPCC.
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/robust
4. rough, rude, or boisterous
(cherry-picked for precision and clarity)

dbleader61

I always liked the way John Mellencamp put it. Most applicable to the James Lee incident is the line and the line I think of often when approaching environmental issues….
“But what we do to each other are the worst things that we do.”
12/25 Another Sunny Day Written by John Mellencamp and George Green
We see it on TV, we get calls on the phone
By the prophets of doom, they won’t leave us alone.
The planet is dying and there’s no time to spare.
They spend all our days sowing seeds of despair.
We get enough bad news to harden our hearts.
This fear that we feed on is what’s keeping us apart.
To say that we’re doomed is just an obvious remark.
And it don’t make you right, it just keeps you in the dark.
I don’t want to live angry, I don’t want to live scared.
I don’t need no more prophets crying “brother beware.”
Just put some work in my hands and give me a dollar to spare.
And don’t let me sow those seeds of despair.
Well, this earth is a graveyard, it will swallow our bones.
It was here long before us, It will be here when we’re gone.
And it’s a vain generation that looks for a sign.
Don’t you think we could make better use of our time.
Yeah, the air could be cleaner and the water could too.
But what we do to each other are the worst things that we do.
And we can treasure our freedom behind our locked doors.
But God speed the day when we’re lonely no more.
I don’t want to live angry, I don’t want to live scared.
I don’t need no more prophets crying “brother beware.”
Just put some work in my hands and give me a dollar to spare.
And don’t let me sow those seeds of despair

ZT

Don’t forget the WWF 911 ‘advert’ for conservation:

James Sexton

Sonicfrog says:
September 2, 2010 at 9:17 am
Esp, this is still my favorite video:
Hippies Wail for Dead Trees
==========================================================
That one never gets old!

sherlock

This is the central reality: the “Enviro-Marxist complex” is a multi-billion dollar business, and its goal is the weakening of Western culture, and specifically American power.

Charles Higley

Mr. Fuller is much too kind or believing of the IPCC, which is not a scientific body. It is a political body whose mission is to show the effects of global warming (by man) and make a (false) case for (government) control of CO2 emissions; they do so regardless of the fact that we are cooling. Take virtually anything they conclude and one can show that it is flawed (often seriously) or misrepresented by omission or selection, as how can it be evidence of warming when we are not warming and even cooling?
Then, with the political agenda of the IPCC, the junk science of the IPCC assumptions, and its seriously flawed and unprofessional AR4 report, the fear-mongers enter the scene and scare people.
Please do not underestimate the biased and goal-driven product of the IPCC. Temperature records are systematically altered by professionals just to create warming. These alterations cannot be defended in any way, except for the need to show warming when it is not happening or not great enough.
Among the billions of people out there, is it surprising that 3 might go off the deep end over some issue? I am truly surprised that there are not more such unfortunate events as yesterday and as in Argentina.
It can be defended that there is not a shred of defendable science that supports, with even slight confidence, the proposal that human activities warm the global climate in any detectable amount, except for the urban heat island effect. The confidence levels expressed by the IPCC are obscene and often represent exaggerations of the scientific input by the upper level editors after the final draft left the scientists. This is highly unethical and misrepresents reality.
It is not in the fabric of the IPCC to admit or report that global warming is not a threat. First, their mission is to show that it is. Second, not to show attention-getting effects and to admit that warming is not happening or is not a threat would immediately cancel the IPCC’s reason for existing and essentially call for their own dissolution. Thus, as with any bureaucracy whose main goal is to perpetuate itself, the results presented by the IPCC are a foregone conclusion – nothing new as they have to somehow come up with effects, either honestly or dishonestly.

Robinson

So let my try to understand this. First you say:

You may agree or disagree with their findings – I agree with most of it, not all.

, but then you continue:

Sea levels are not going to rise by 20 feet. Or 10. Or five. There is not going to be a climatic tipping point that pushes our planet into a spiral of ever-increasing temperatures. Global warming is not going to cause the extinction of half the species on this planet, or even 1%.

This is a contradiction. Although the IPCC does not expect a 20ft sea level rise, its other predictions are based on the very runaway effects you dismiss (6.4°C in its high level scenario). It explicitly states that 20-30% of species will come under extinction pressure at 1/2 of this rise. It seems to me that either you accept the basic science the IPCC promotes and thereby accept the forecasts based on that science, or you throw the whole lot out, forecasts and all.
I read this a little as I would read a Dr Curry article: trying to have your cake and eat it.

Harry Bergeron

I expect the Obama Administration to shut down all the cable nature channels to prevent a recurrance of this incident, at a cost of 9,000 jobs.
It only stands to reason, and now there’s legal precedent.

Venter

Fantastic post, Mr.Fuller. It’s nail, hit, head.
The scaremongering by all the people involved in the AGW side of Climate Science, coupled with the media, is getting close to ridiculous.

Gail Combs

Ben D. says:
September 2, 2010 at 8:57 am
This was the same thing Michael Crichton wrote about in his novel “State of Fear” ….. Its too bad this thought was not taken seriously because once the chicken little routine is done, environmentalism is on a collision course with angry Americans who will feel anti-green just because of this entire episode. This will be a true tragedy in the end.
___________________________________________________________
You are correct. I am a former Greenpeace and Sierra Club member. I also got burned when “animal welfare” became irrational “animal rights” I can personally say both the words “environmental” or “animal welfare” immediately provoke suspicion. I am likely to discount anything anyone using those words says because I feel there is very likely a hidden agenda and I can be bother wasting my time trying to find it.
It is really very sad the “environmental movement” is really just a vehicle for “political change” and not about the environment.

pat

And yet Spain is burning.

FergalR

“disturbing words and images that can influence the vulnerable.”
With due respect, Thomas Fuller, you’re talking out your arse. The guy threw thousands of dollars around two years ago and was declared sane. Two years later he spent “around three weeks or a month. I did a lot of research and experiments” manufacturing (apparently viable) bombs from scratch.
While homeless. He developed his bombmaking skills, from what I can gather from the news outlets, in a homeless shelter. Could it be that he actually did it in a private residence that he had money to fund and he was just a regular guy who’d swallowed the relentless CAGW propaganda?
The departed James Lee was functioning higher than most of the people who commented on the related thinkprogress thread. He sure had better spelling and grammar, and probably capitalised fewer random words and used less redundant punctuation in his “manifesto”.
Kaczynski will die in jail. Two psychiatrists declared him sane.
Media hyperbole drove the *entirely sane* James Lee to do what he did.
“the vulnerable”? Bollocks.