Activists go thru 5 stages of grief for the climate change campaign

By Larry Kummer, from the Fabius Maximus website

Summary: Climate activists have begun to see the failure of their campaign to get public policy measures to fight climate change. Their actions follow the five stages of grief in the Kübler-Ross model. This helps us predict what comes next, and prepare. For example, stage four (bargaining) offers an opportunity to gain something from the expensive policy gridlock in this vital area. This is the third in a series attempting to understand the ending of this 26-year-story and find in it some useful lessons for the future.

“The time for debate has ended.”

— True words by Marcia McNutt (editor-in-Chief of Science, next President of the NAS) in “The beyond-two-degree inferno“, an editorial in Science, 3 July 2015.

The 5 stages of grief in the Kübler-Ross model


The final chapters appear to have come in the great campaign to enact public policy measures against climate change. Twenty-six years have passed since James Hansen’s Senate testimony and ten since Al Gore’s speech (predicting a “time of consequences” with, among other things, more Katrinas). Despite support from the Left, academia, journalists, and the major science institutions — yet after 20 years they had achieved only minor support from most developed nations and almost nothing from the emerging world.

Activists responded with ever-more extreme predictions of doom from climate change. The scientists working with the IPCC refused to support most claims of a certain coming catastrophe, most recently in their 2012 Special Report on Extreme Events and Disasters and in 2014’s Working Group I of AR5 (e.g., about methane). Activists responded by denigrating the IPCC. From the “gold standard of climate science”, it became “too conservative” (e.g., Inside Climate News, The Daily Climate, Yale’s Environment 360, Naomi Klein). This too had little effect on public opinion.

Climate activists hoped for a boost from either a large weather event or President Obama. Obama did little until this year he then made only a small step with his Clean Power Plan (phasing out coal, but not addressing oil or natural gas). Activists attempted to blame CO2 for several large weather events, but were often frustrated by denials from the major climate agencies (e.g., NOAA about the 2012 Central Plains Drought and the California drought).

By 2015 climate change was moving off the center stage, as it consistently ranked near the bottom of the US public’s major policy concerns. Newspapers reassigned staff to hotter stories (the LAT in 2008, the NYT in 2013). Presidential candidates of both parties muted their climate change policies. The COP21 festival seems likely to produce few results (just like its predecessors).

The death of a large joint effort creates grief, best described (impressionistically) by the five stages of the Kübler-Ross model. This fits the recent actions of climate activists. First there is…

(1)  Denial

Activists’ initial reaction was (ironically) denial. They believed that the public supported them, that action was prevented only by shadowy conspiracies and unethical journalists (who reported both sides of the debate), and that strong policy action would happen soon. For decades they hoped that action will come after a disastrous weather event (to be blamed on climate change), the next conference, the next IPCC report, or the next media event.

Most of the 40 thousand attendees at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris work and party in denial about the state of the movement. Attendees who understand this bleak prospect might treat it as a wake.

But continued bad news erodes away denial, leading to…

(2)  Anger

For some activists, denial has boiled over into anger. Most notably, James Hansen — who wrote a scathing essay overflowing with anger. Obama would not even meet with him, James Hansen — a star of the CAGW movement! Worse…

“Obama is not proposing the action required for the essential change in energy policy direction” {decarbonization} … How can such miserable failure of political leadership be explained, when Obama genuinely wants climate policy to be one of his legacy issues? … Get ready for the great deceit and hypocrisy planned for December in Paris. … I have suggested, asked, or begged lawmakers, in more nations and states than I can remember, to consider a simple, honest, rising carbon fee with all funds distributed to legal residents. Instead, invariably, if they are of a bent to even consider the climate issue, they propose the discredited ineffectual cap-and-trade-with-offsets (C&T) with all its political levers.”

Also see “Why the Paris climate deal is meaningless” by Oren Cass (Manhattan Institute) at Politico (a useful weather vane for opinion-makers’ trends). “The more seriously you take the need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, the angrier you should be.”

Anger feels good but accomplishes nothing, leaving behind only…

(3)  Depression

People move through these stages at their own pace, often skipping one or more. Some climate scientists have moved into depression, and understandable reaction to the failure of the policy campaign to produce the measures they consider necessary for the survival of humanity — and, in many cases, to which they have devoted so much effort for so long.

These stories make anyone sad who has a shred of empathy. See some examples at “Climate depression is real. Just ask a scientist.” by Madeleine Thomas at Grist (October 2014). More recent are the stories at “When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job” by John H. Richardson at Esquire (July 2015) — “Among many climate scientists, gloom has set in. Things are worse than we think, but they can’t really talk about it.” For a in-depth discussion with one scientist see “Is it ok for scientists to weep over climate change?” by Roger Harrabin at The Guardian (July 2015) — “The devastating impact CO2 emissions are having on oceans recently brought one professor to tears during a radio interview.”

Active people eventually recover from their depression, realizing that some valuable steps can be taken. This leads to…

(4)  Bargaining

“We don’t even plan for the past.”

— Steven Mosher (member of Berkeley Earth; bio here), a comment posted at Climate Etc.

The Bargaining stage might prove fruitful, when activists see the clock running out (especially when funding begins to dry up) and change their tactics from mockery and insults (“Deniers!”) to bargaining. Both Left and Right can find common cause about many public policy measures to prepare for climate change — which both sides agree is inevitable (although in different contexts). Many such measures will require large-scale infrastructure projects, often popular in Congress.

The US public policy gridlock might break during this stage, although achieving on fragments of activists’ goals.  See more details here. But the grand hopes for massive policy action will likely remain unfulfilled, especially for those using the threat of CAGW to change our economic and political systems (e.g., Naomi Kleinclip_image002 and Pope Francis). Eventually most activists will come to…

(5)  Acceptance

Life goes on, even for activists. There is always another campaign, as the coming apocalypse from air & water pollution was followed by the The Population Bombclip_image002[1] (1968), which gave way to Limits to Growthclip_image002[2] (1972), then nuclear winter (1983), then several more campaigns until peak oil, peak everything, and climate change.

Activists will enjoy the certainty that they were correct even though defeated by an ignorant public led by conservatives and oil companies. They will look forward — as did previous generations of such prophets — to the eventual apocalypse that results from the world’s refusal to believe.

Eventually the weather will decide whose science was stronger, that of the “activists or the “skeptics”. It might take years to see decisive results, or perhaps decades (see some scientists’ predictions here). Climate change is a commonplace in history, sometimes destroying entire civilizations. Our refusal to prepare even for the obvious — continuation of the two centuries of warming or, even more irresponsibly, for repeat of past extreme weather — probably will prove expensive in lives and money.

Other posts in this series

1. The bottom line: How we broke the climate change debates. Lessons learned for the future.

2. A story of the climate change debate. How it ran; why it failed.

3. The 5 stages of grief for the failure of the climate change campaign.

4. Next week: The climate change crisis, as seen from 2100 AD.

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Walt D.
December 5, 2015 7:17 am

“It might take years to see decisive results, or perhaps decades (see some scientists’ predictions here).”
It might take 200 years. If CO2 needs to double from 400ppm to 800ppm and is steadily increasing at 2ppm/year that is 200 years for a 1C increase.

December 5, 2015 7:20 am
Reply to  Pointman
December 5, 2015 8:06 am

You get priority for writing that in 2010. I’ll add a note about that to my post. Today that forecast looks quite prescient. Congrats.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
December 5, 2015 8:15 am

Do I get any points for reading Pointman’s post in 2010? 🙂

Reply to  Pointman
December 5, 2015 9:48 am

What I’d really like to see is when the climate starts getting noticeably colder for extended periods of time that the true believers to realize that they have been had, used and disposed of. Then for them to get angry at those who lied to them not those who told them the truth.
Problem is belief is so strong that people have based their entire lives around it and to change that is beyond a lot of humans despite massive proof being in their face. If the AMO continues down into its negative phase, the PDO continues its negative phase (the el-ninos not withstanding) and the sun goes into a prolonged quiet phase what will they say? It will be obvious to most everyone that CO2 doesn’t control the climate. They will probably just buy into the “when the warming does return it will be way worse” meme that I see already appearing.
If that anger can be channelled at those who knowingly “didn’t tell the truth” (you know the word) then real change could be affected and we could force scientists to follow the scientific method once again. Dare to dream, dare to dream.

Reply to  TRM
December 5, 2015 2:21 pm

“Then for them to get angry at those who lied to them not those who told them the truth”
That isn’t how people work. They don’t get angry at the people who lie to them; they get angry at the people who show them the lie. It may not seem fair, but yes, they got angry at you because you told them about how people have been lying to them for years. Then they will get angry again when they finally realize you were right.
Oh, and by the way, pretty much none of the activists have moved past the denial stage. They are still making up fanciful new theories about how they were right all along. COP21 is about nothing as advanced as acceptance. It is about exhorting the world into ever more extreme measures to stop something that advanced people can see isn’t even happening.

Reply to  TRM
December 5, 2015 2:41 pm

TRM writes: ” we could force scientists to follow the scientific method once again.”
I’d venture that no force is necessary. Scientists have and always will follow scientific method. The problem isn’t scientists, it’s the people who pose as scientists and the only defense against them is critical thinking and rational thought on the part of the listener.

Reply to  TRM
December 5, 2015 4:43 pm

”we could force scientists to follow the scientific method once again.”
Scientists have always followed the scientific method in a more or less fashion. Stephen Jay Gould’s books document a century of not-quite scientific behavior by scientists.

Walter Sobchak
Reply to  TRM
December 5, 2015 10:14 pm

“… when the climate starts getting noticeably colder for … the true believers to realize …”
I think you used the key word: “believers”. CAGW is a religion. Religions seldom collapse because of an erroneous prophecy. Instead, believers rationalize, and invent ever more elaborate theologies.

Reply to  Pointman
December 5, 2015 11:11 am

Actually, you’re more correct about the “one funeral at a time” than you may realize. Too many bi name scientists with big reputations to protect still occupy research positions.
As they naturally die-off, they make room for newer generations who are not reputationally invested in the CO2 apocalypse scam. Then the Progressice apocalypse paradigm machine can change and move past the current anthro-CO2 alarmism to a new “end-of-world” scam.

Reply to  Pointman
December 5, 2015 6:20 pm

“Science progresses one funeral at a time.”
Very true.
Within a few days we can expect to see the funeral of one of the architects of the entire CAGW edifice, the odious Maurice Strong.
Will that make a difference?

Santa Baby
Reply to  Pointman
December 6, 2015 2:50 pm

Its been created by New socialism/Cultural marxism. Environment and climate are just Tools to have a radical change of Western society, destroy it actually.

December 5, 2015 7:24 am

“policy campaign to produce the measures they consider necessary for the survival of humanity”
How many of them truly believe this though? I honestly hope the number is very low despite the headlines we often see. I mean if I thought my actions threatened life on earth I sure as heck would change my lifestyle in accordance. The token changes many make while denigrating others who dont even think the issue is pressing blows my mind. I happen to be a frugal homesteader. My lifestyle is much “greener” then most in western countries. Yet many times Ive been told Im the problem by people who use much more energy then myself. So you are evil and greedy if you dont think the science proves that co2 is a major climate driver, but its totally fine to think the science supports this but continue to release as much as you want anyway, until laws force you to stop? that takes twists and turns of logic my brain isnt capable of.

Reply to  Randy
December 5, 2015 7:54 am

“How many of them truly believe this though?”
I too have wondered about this. Not so much about their personal lives, but about how activists’ have run the public policy campaign, As so many have noted, they often act as if the cause was secondary to “hidden” goals — such as more government control over the economy and changes to our political and social systems.
This post contrasts the climate campaign with public expectations for how scientists’ act when warning about an existential threat to the world:

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
December 5, 2015 9:34 am

interesting read. thanks

Smart Rock
Reply to  Randy
December 5, 2015 9:53 am

Randy, the answer is, they do believe it, but they don’t let it actually rule their lives beyond token gestures. George Orwell (observant and prescient as ever) called it doublethink. Psychologists call it “cognitive dissonance”. You see it in many other aspects of life. Here’s a couple of the more obvious ones:
Smokers, who know damn well their habit is probably going to kill them, who don’t quit and give wholly spurious justifications for not quitting. Well there’s a physical addiction involved that can twist your thoughts into weird shapes. I know from my own past experiences before I finally gave in to the smoke police.
Religious preachers who preach about the virtues of monogamy and the evils of adultery, and have a stable of hookers to take care of their bodily desires.
I’m sure we can all add examples of doublethink. It helps us cope with the stresses of life and anyone who says he or she is totally free of it is probably lying.
Partial justification for it in the case of global warming: if you really wanted to give up fossil fuels, how could you possibly do it? No plastics, no electric light (unless you live in hydro-rich Norway, Quebec etc.), nothing made of iron or steel (they are made with coke), same goes for most other metals, no clothes made with artificial fabrics, no home heating or cooking unless you use wood or animal dung. It would be really, really tough, probably a lot tougher than quitting smoking (or even giving up sex!).

Greg Woods
December 5, 2015 7:26 am

‘4. Next week: The climate change crisis, as seen from 2100 AD.’ – What? A newer, better model?

Reply to  Greg Woods
December 5, 2015 7:56 am

I’ll give no spoilers! But here’s a hint.

Summary: To get into the spirit of the COP21 festival, let’s imagine what our time will look like to the people of 2100 AD. There are an infinite number of possible futures. Considering these can give us a better perspective on the trends of our time. Here’s one, an antidote to the prophecies of doom that flood the news lately.

Pat Paulsen
December 5, 2015 7:27 am

10 years since An Inconvenient Folly. I expect someone will make a video – ten years later and fact-checking all of Al’s points. It should be fun, like watching a comedy (of errors). The Keystone Cops could not have handled the issue of Changing Climate any worse, IMO.

December 5, 2015 7:37 am

Larry Kummer….disagree with you use of the phrase ‘climate change’.
“Both Left and Right can find common cause about many public policy measures to prepare for climate change — which both sides agree is inevitable (although in different contexts).”
The basic premise is CAGW and both sides do NOT agree is is inevitable.
You are conflating Natural Climate Change with CAGW.

Reply to  kokoda
December 5, 2015 7:58 am

That’s what I meant by “although in different contexts”. Both are climate change to the people on the ground experiencing them.

richard verney
Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
December 5, 2015 12:17 pm

But nothing needs to be done.
A few tenths, or so, of more warming, more greenery due to C02, and sea level rise at around 1.5mm per year. What is the problem with that?
Quite frankly, it is difficult to see what adaption is needed, although I do not rule out the need for limited and targeted adaption in some micro regions..
Given how slow sea water is rising, and isostatic rebound, the sea water rise issue could be solved by extracting sea water, using desalination plants, and to use the water extracted for the needs of Africa and other drier countries who experience low rainfall. Just think, if we were to withdraw half or three quarters of a millimetre per year that would largely cancel out sea level rise and at the same time solve problems faced by drought ridden countries.
Why people fear a warming globe is one of life’s great mysteries; it would be a godsend if the globe were to warm a few degrees, but that looks extremely unlikely as we are making our way along the downward slope of the present inter glacial back towards the deep throes of the ice age which the planet is currently in.
What the world wants now is cheap and abundant energy, and then we should concentrate on the real issues, namely getting people out of poverty and being able to enjoy a better quality of life.

Mark from the Midwest
December 5, 2015 7:40 am

I’ve seen Kubler-Ross in action, many times in business, as a project manager or company sees a major initiative crash and burn. The only problem is that they never fully get to Stage 5, “acceptance.” It’s always something like “the market changed in an unpredictable way,” or the always famous “we didn’t do a good job of communicating to our clients.” There’s seldom a a clear acknowledgement that some of the basic assumptions or premises were wrong, which often leads to re-hashed second attempts that are equally horrific.

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
December 5, 2015 8:00 am

I agree, many of them will never accept it.

December 5, 2015 7:47 am

I argue for only 1 stage.
Activists will only go through grief… when their paychecks stop.

December 5, 2015 7:48 am

I thought I had read that the Kübler-Ross model had been discredited. If so (I can’t seem to find that article), it seems fitting to apply it to the Global Warming model.

Reply to  katherine009
December 5, 2015 8:02 am

It has been discredited as “the” model for how people experience grief. People go though these stages in different sequences, or skipping some stages — or just skipping grief in any usual form. It’s a useful model, but not like the law of gravity (as true of most psychology).
The K-R model is useful operationally for therapists and the people affected by grief as way to understand what they are experiencing. In this context it is useful to describe the crash of the campaign as I said: “(impressionistically) by the five stages”.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
December 5, 2015 10:52 am

Actually, not unlike the Law of Gravity, then. We can use the inverse square law to predict the positions of planets and satellites with respect to another body sure, but things start to diverge when we include influences of multiple bodies, quadrupole and higher moments, molecular collisions, photon interactions, and relativistic effects, not to mention self-actuation (e.g., satellites with propulsion systems). You have an underlying model, you project forward based on the model, and then you correct based on observations.

December 5, 2015 7:55 am

“Activists will enjoy the certainty that they were correct even though defeated by an ignorant public led by conservatives and oil companies.”
Utter nonsense. Oil companies joined big green etc long ago and conservatives have simply been along for the ride. Scepticism is indeed grass-roots. A true silent majority that no amount of marketing and bamboozling could assuage.

Reply to  TrueNorthist
December 5, 2015 8:03 am

I described how activists will feel. I didn’t say their feelings were correct.

Reply to  TrueNorthist
December 5, 2015 8:14 am

That’s a fact. Politicians will no doubt take credit, but the real heroes are the intelligent skeptics, on the blogs and in the street, who bravely faced down the mob of ignorant lemmings which had been fooled by a socialist agenda that hides behind manipulated data, half-truths and about a dozen other logical fallacies.

Reply to  naggme
December 5, 2015 8:32 am

I agree with you about the bravery and work of the skeptics. Professionals like Roger Piekle Sr. and Jr., Richard Tol, Judith Curry, and Anthony Watts. Amateurs like Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick. And the many others.
Counterfactual histories provide stories that help us better understand the dynamics of history. Imagine if there had been no pause in warming and if Atlantic hurricanes had not gone quiet. My guess (emphasis on guess) is that the climate campaign would have achieved some of their major policy goals in the developed nations (China and the others required stronger evidence).
The weather has decided the policy debate so far, and will continue to do so. Ironically, since climate science is attempting to harness nature as physics and astronomy did before.

Reply to  naggme
December 5, 2015 6:09 pm

“It is easier to find a score of men wise enough to discover the truth than to find one intrepid enough, in the face of opposition, to stand up for it.”
—A. Hodge

Reply to  naggme
December 5, 2015 7:39 pm

+1. Got to be a winner for Best of Thread!

Jeff Mitchell
December 5, 2015 7:56 am

The reports of the death of CAGW are greatly exaggerated. Paraphrase of Mark Twain.
Its not dead yet! Paraphrase of Monty Python.
The game isn’t over until its over. Yogi Berra
Don’t get cocky kid. Han Solo

richard verney
Reply to  Jeff Mitchell
December 5, 2015 12:22 pm

As you say, the fat lady has yet to sing.
Like all drama queens, she’s taking her time preening herself in her dressing room wanting to look good for her last hurrah, desperate that she goes out with a bang, and not with a whimper.

Bruce Cobb
December 5, 2015 8:06 am

In the end, we don’t know where climate is headed. Most of what is called “climate change” is basically just weather, some of it cyclical. The fact is, despite all the hoopla about a small (despite tamperature data sets) warming and ginned-up fears of a future, catastrophic warming, we may actually be headed for cooling in coming decades. Indeed, the cooling may have already begun. So how do we prepare? For starters, what we most emphatically DON’T do is harm ourselves economically by switching to far more expensive, less reliable forms of energy. Only healthy economies are able to respond and adapt to whatever Ma Nature throws our way. That much we do know.

December 5, 2015 8:08 am

We learned several years ago that this whole global warming, and now climate change, thingy has absolutely nothing to do with climate/weather. “Climate change” is, and apparently always was, a vehicle to get the CAGW activists where they really want to go – world political change and apparent global redistribution of wealth; some form of socialism. CO2 is a non issue, except for plants which desire more of it. Bottom line, CAGW is about politics, not science; there is no science in it.

December 5, 2015 8:13 am

I very much agree with Randy. I have a relatively low co2 emitting lifestyle too. I don’t fly much, I cycle a lot, I don’t do excessive consumerism. Climate delegates jetting around the world on their annual save the world junkets are ridiculous.

December 5, 2015 8:17 am

Imagine if in 1980 a major political organization had declared a need for food rationing in all western countries and an end to relief to Africa based on the ‘Science’ of Paul Ehrlich and the Club of Rome. Further image that they were still filling the media with the doomsday predictions that had already failed to materialize and simply extended the date of disaster out a few more years every time they failed. Would anyone but the true believers be surprised when the public looses interest or simply stops following their pronouncements?
By now the ‘Climate Crisis’ has become more then a failed prediction. It’s become a joke. Worse, it’s a running gag. A funny religion that you can’t take seriously, because what it claims to be true simply never comes to pass. And the people can see that no matter how the faithful scream and rant nothing ever changes. They can see that the proposed solution are disasters in there own right and couldn’t really help even if the predictions were true. Most importantly they can see that the high priests of Climate don’t live like CO2 is the doom of us all.
Maybe the Climate faithful really are going through the stages of grief. But it’s not grief over the failure of their silly beliefs, it’s grief that the world is DOOMED without the blind subservience of the people to their green religion. You won’t see the acceptance that their beliefs were false until those that find them useful idiots no longer have a use for them and abandoned the cause. And some never will accept it.

December 5, 2015 8:26 am

Along the lines of this post, comes an hilarious post from the Bishop Hill blog.
“Climate talks progress”
“An agreement that cardboard for recycling will be put out on a Tuesday night has been reached at the UN climate summit in Paris.”

Bob Denby
December 5, 2015 8:38 am

Gentlemen forget the science, it’s entertaining but only helpful when shining the light on physical reality. The real story is a story of the ‘anti-capitalism’ movement, it NEVER sleeps. And it happens that the AGW theory is the most effective vehicle its adherents have yet devised — spread fright over an apocalypse that can be staved off only through central control, and distribution (by the wise and benevolent) of all the worlds’ resources (including wealth).

James Francisco
Reply to  Bob Denby
December 5, 2015 10:03 am

Bob. I think you summed it up the best I have seen. I have read a lot good summaries. I have always wondered if the USSR was behind this at least in the beginning. If they weren’t they should be kicking themselves for not thinking of it.

John MIller
December 5, 2015 8:41 am

I take it they are still collectively at Stage 3 (depression).

Reply to  John MIller
December 5, 2015 8:59 am

Based on what I have read and my conversations with activists on Twitter, my guess is that most are in stage one (denial, expecting that their victory is certain) and anger (lots of that). Anger is “trending”; lots of that among climate warriors — as they see their victory (and its rewards) “stolen” from them.

James Francisco
Reply to  John MIller
December 5, 2015 10:18 am

John maybe they are individually at different steps. I thought that an invitation that Anthony received a while back to a dinner party by some CAGW activists that wanted an agreement to tone down the mudslinging was step 4 bargaining.

John Boles
December 5, 2015 8:48 am

Climate and weather: there are cycles upon cycles upon cycles, some long period and some short, some feed back on each other and some do not. An ice age every 100,000 years, wow!

Mark from the Midwest
December 5, 2015 8:54 am

Wow, if I were involved in the IPCC I’d go straight to STEP 6: Seppuku. The draft agreement is little more than an acknowledgment that they agree to cooperate. It’s actually a step backward from Bonn.

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
December 5, 2015 9:19 am

Thanks for posting this. It’s fascinating reading. The opening is bonkers.

The purpose of this Agreement is …
To hold the increase in the global average temperature [below 1.5 °C] [or] [well below 2 °C] above pre-industrial levels by ensuring deep reductions in global greenhouse gas [net] emissions; …

I thought that we already at 1°C, and most experts believed that holding the increase to 2°C was an unrealistic goal. The scale of action required for a 1.5°C limit would be drastic.
More evidence that most of the delegates at COP21 are in stage one: “denial”.

Mark from the Midwest
Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
December 5, 2015 9:28 am

Also look at the fact that 1) They use Warsaw as a framework for enforcement, which effectively allows the U.S. Congress to reject the whole thing … 2) Look at Article 25, any party may unilaterally withdraw after 3 years, …. 3) Look at several paragraphs in Article 3 that effectively allow a country to define its contributions without conditions, (i.e., China: We agree to do absolutely nothing) …
It’s just a difficult read because they allow so many hedges that it would allow an international law judge to refuse to rule on anything because it’s sufficiently vague.

Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
December 5, 2015 9:56 am

That’s the tell showing a loss of belief in the campaign: they set maximum (unrealistic) goals AND minimalist means. This allows them to declare success, in a let’s-pretend way.
If they were serious about the project they would set achievable goals, with means roughly proportionate to the goals.

December 5, 2015 9:58 am

Our refusal to prepare even for the obvious — continuation of the two centuries of warming

Regarding the future, the obvious seldom happens and we should know by now.
It is called climate change because it changes, and the next change will be to cooling. Nobody knows when it will take place. It could take place after this El Niño.

Reply to  Javier
December 5, 2015 10:13 am

The issue isn’t ‘climate change’. The question is whether human CO2 emissions cause any measurable difference in global temperatures.
Since no one has been able to produce any measurements quantifying AGW, the climate Null Hypothesis remains un-falsified. QED

Reply to  dbstealey
December 8, 2015 11:26 am

Even more fundamental than “…cause any measurable difference…” is the postulated “positive feedback.”

Reply to  Javier
December 5, 2015 11:03 am

Unfortunately,the AGW cadre’s means of preparing for additional warming is akin to a shaman preparing for the eruption of the volcano by ordering the sacrifice of virgins.

December 5, 2015 11:00 am

For some, the anger is taking a dangerous turn.

“We need an authoritarian form of government that can implement the consensus of the science on greenhouse gas emissions.”

December 5, 2015 11:04 am

“Both Left and Right can find common cause about many public policy measures to prepare for climate change — which both sides agree is inevitable (although in different contexts). ”
The climate has always changed and always will change. Since we don’t know how it will change in the future, it is difficult to prepare. The kind of infrastructure projects that could be done are those that everyone already knew we should do but funding constraints or worries about environmental impact prevented them from being done. Such as improve storm systems to handle large hurricanes. Another thing that could be done is to improve interstate highway bridges to handle such things as strong earthquakes and higher water when they are not build above the 200 year flood.

Mark and two Cats
December 5, 2015 11:37 am

“(5) Acceptance”
I would be careful about this one – rather than acceptance, Step-5 might be totalitarian take-over.
They (the warmunists) are so close to their dream of leftist world governance they can taste it.
As their good buddy mao said: “political power comes out of the barrel of a gun”.

Peter Sable
December 5, 2015 11:53 am

So in the conversion of CAGW-ers to skeptics, they are all at stage 1-3, and most fanatics never make it past stage 3.

December 5, 2015 11:55 am

“A new plan in place”
Yep, that’s the last step for alarmists before they start the cycle all over again. They never go away. They just come up with a new plan to scare the public. Then when the public gets tired of it and stops given them money, they change their focus to a new pending catastrophe that’s just over the horizon.
Climate change is a little different from some of the past scares, such as DDT, acid rain, ozone depletion, nuclear winter, China syndrome, etc. Climate change has been defined in such a broad way that it cannot be falsified. So expect it to be recycled whenever major weather disasters or new record temperatures (hot or cold) occur. We will either have to be prepared to play wack-a-mole whenever it rears its ugly head or be resigned to accept the huge waste of public resources that will be spent fighting this phantom menace.

December 5, 2015 12:20 pm

I am not sure it plays out this way. Warmunism is akin to a secular religion, a political one.. Religious beliefs seldom die, although there are occaisionally conversions from one religion to another. Communists do not believe communism failed economically. Warmunists will never believe their ‘science’ failed scientifically, even tho it has and will continue to do so. They will never believe intermitant renewables cannot replace dispatchable generation. And so on. They will never recognize the inherent contradiction in their equal opposition to nuclear (Germany being exhibit 1 for this doublethink).
What seems to be happening is more akin to trends within especially Sunni Islam, where a growing number of stricter interpretationists are increasingly angry that they cannot impose Sharia on everyone, to the point of repeatedly taking up arms. Deash is the current most extreme example. Warmunists are at least verbally taking this same general direction.RICO20, Lomborg in Australia, Grijalva…
Religions wax and wane. Warmunism will wane with the literal passing of its believers (and ‘science’ practioners. But Paris is proving that as a political movement, it is increasingly a spent force, dashed upon the rocks of realities like economic development, reliable electrical grids, and national sovereignty. The shriller the ‘sound and fury’ the clearer the truth of the warmunist situation becomes for everyone else.

Lewis P Buckingham
December 5, 2015 12:21 pm

The grief process may be staged as shown above, however in the real world never is.
Some go through denial to bargaining, only to revert to anger.
Some experience the whole gamut cyclically over days weeks or months.
When it comes to groups of people, they tend to be all at different places in the grief process.
This Conference would be a psychologist’s smorgasbord.
However we will not see it studied by the Cooks of this world.
It’s not clear to me that everyone cares, anyway, sufficiently to be grief struck.
International conferences can be more than resolving ‘world crises’.
They may be an opportunity of meeting old friends and acquaintances,touring the Bordeaux,writing stuff without analysis cf
Having the ‘free lunch’ and resolving real problems that have nothing to do with climate on the way.
These could be visiting granny, sorting an arms deal or settling heads of agreement on a coal or gas deal.
Note that India had the ear of Obama.
Narendra Modi may have been asking that Indian and human problem echoing down the century:
‘How can nations,now embarking on the difficult task of modernising their economies, be helped to telescope their industrial effort-spread over two or three generations in most advanced countries-into a decade or two?
How can they mobilise the immense capital needed for investment in developmental projects, while making at least some provision for social welfare?
How long can the hope of a minimum improvement in standard of personal consumption be postponed, when the people are so conscious of their rights, as well as the grim realities of their comparative situation?
Indira Ghandi
Address at the second UN Conference on Trade and Development
New Deli
1 February 1968
India has made its judgement call,coal fired base load power.
All it needs is the money to build it.

Lewis P Buckingham
Reply to  Lewis P Buckingham
December 5, 2015 12:22 pm

Indira Gandhi

Jimmy Haigh
December 5, 2015 1:29 pm

“We don’t even plan for the past.”
No – but they fiddle the figures…

December 5, 2015 1:31 pm

I think the CAGW activists are still in denial, still looking for the magic bullet that will turn things their way.
For example, an alarmist on another site told me that oxygen levels are (slowly) falling. If this continued it would mean the end of life! When I responded that increased CO2 is causing the observable greening of the planet, hence more O2 production, he claimed that this cannot be true. O2 production is still falling, so CO2 must cause a net loss in photosynthesis, even if foliage increases.
Has anyone else seen this argument? From what I can gather, enhanced CO2 not only increases plant growth, it also increases photosynthesis.

Lewis P Buckingham
Reply to  anthropic
December 5, 2015 2:02 pm

Don’t know the answer to that question.
The amount of oxygen carried in the blood of a mammal is related to the oxygen saturation of the hemoglobin molecule in the red blood cell, infinitesimal changes in the atmospheric O2 concentration are therefore not going to cause oxygen deprivation in mammals

Reply to  anthropic
December 5, 2015 5:20 pm

I found this interesting information on oxygen at This is the first time I’ve heard that oxygen levels can affect the climate:

“Oxygen currently comprises about 21 percent of Earth’s atmosphere by volume but has varied between 10 percent and 35 percent over the past 541 million years.
In periods when oxygen levels declined, the resulting drop in atmospheric density led to increased surface evaporation, which in turn led to precipitation increases and warmer temperatures, according to University of Michigan paleoclimatologist Christopher Poulsen.
“The connection between oxygen levels and climate has never been considered. It turns out that it’s an important factor over geological timescales,” said Poulsen…
Adding oxygen molecules has the opposite effect: a thicker atmosphere, more scattering of incoming sunlight, reduced surface evaporation, and less heat trapped by water vapor.”

If increased CO2 causes an increase in the photosynthesis of oxygen, it could provide a negative feedback to global warming. Who knew?

December 5, 2015 3:20 pm

Religion used to be the province of apocalyptic puritanism (We are going to hell; the world will end unless we change our ways, i.e. follow me and do what I tell you). Like many things, it’s now become secular. We often accuse the proponents of socialism, but I think Apocalyptic Puritan Elitists (APE) is the more appropriate term. All the campaigns you mentioned: the coming apocalypse from air & water pollution, The Population Bomb, Limits to Growth, nuclear winter, and climate change, demand that we turn away from sin and follow the direction of some self proclaimed elite. This will require our sacrifices (but not for them, some animals are more equal than others don’t you know). If you don’t believe that just look at the CO2 that this meeting has spewed into the atmosphere from their jets alone. I guess none of them heard of video conferencing?

Reply to  Bear
December 5, 2015 5:03 pm

Unthinking tools have significant side benefits–that of producing the copious amounts of CO2 you refer to. I’m glad they’re so brain dead they don’t get it.

December 5, 2015 6:48 pm

I propose we rename the so-called “clean” energy, death energy.
(1) Burning coal and oil restores to the life cycle dead carbon that would, if humans were out of the equation, never again contribute to life on earth; trying to stop this is working for death.
(2) Wind farms slice and dice trillions of birds, and kill bats at a distance by exploding their lungs from the inside; this is the second effect of death energy.
(3) Solar concentrators fry birds alive in mid-air, both torturing and killing them; this is beyond evil, it is evil in obscenity, a predictable outcome of death energy.
And as for “green” energy, it is clearly red energy, the colour of the blood shed so “green”ies can pat themselves on the back and feel all superior to the good people of the earth, and red is also the colour of the burnt earth that remains when the plants deprived of CO2 have all died.

December 5, 2015 7:40 pm

CAGW is definitely in the 4th bargaining stage as CAGW alarmists desperately try to explain away why their disconfirmed hypothesis is now so laughably off from their dire predictions: surface temps, Antarctic land ice INCREASING at 100 billion tons/year, Arctic sea ice recovery since 2007, no increasing severe weather trends in 50~100 years, crop yields up 70% since 1980, ocean pH stuck at 8.1, sea level rise stuck at 6″/century since 1800, etc., etc., etc.,….
As the PDO is already in its 30-year cool cycle, the AMO approaches its 30-year cool cycle around 2020, and as the sun continues to weaken as it approaches a possible Grand Solar Minimum from 2030, the disparities between CAGW hypothetical projections vs. reality will soon laughably exceed 3+ standard deviations, at which point acceptance of CAGW’s utter failure becomes inevitable.
With all the overwhelming evidence that CAGW is a joke, it’s amazing this silly hypothesis has lasted as long it has.
Historians will be flabbergasted on how this stupid CAGW hypothesis could have ever been taken seriously by so many clueless Leftists.
CAGW is a very sad chapter in human history and shows the destructive force of Leftist ideology.

December 5, 2015 8:25 pm

Buy a hat with a decent wide brim and get over it.

Gary Pearse
December 5, 2015 9:01 pm

Fabius, you have missed something important here.
CAGW activist scientists carry along the deni@l through the depression stage. Depressed scientists interviewed: they responded that gee I see the disaster coming and I’ve worked hard and long to get people to see it so we can fix it but they just don’t get it, sob, sob, we are doomed but all my work is for nought, that’s why I’m depressed. Of course groupy psychologists and the media cheerleaders buy all this. They even get advice from psychologists that’s supposed to help these warriors for truth get some relief, when all this does is prolong the deni@l devil.
The real deni@l here is that they were hit on the head with the merciless, stressful, impossible, never-ending “Pause” and the doubts built up. Their minds tried to whisper the truth but they rationalized like crazy and totally denied the horrible truth filling their minds. This form of deni@l is that of classical psychology. To let the obvious thought take form would require accepting they had, in most cases of those with the disorder (of a certain age), basically wasted most of a career or even lifetime on a false scientific premise. All the adulation, prizes, limelight, research funds, exotic trips with their fans they would have to let go if they let that thought crystallize. Their life’s work goes into the round file.
The Pause is the meanest most horrible thing that nature could have done. It took on a life of its own and even the icons of the movement acknowledged it and researchers who hadn’t yet got the disorder, in a panic generated 57 reasons for the pause in a warming world, each more silly the last. The heat took on a stealth quality. Something had to be done by the more cynical members of the flock or all was lost.
Having built up a lot of brass from outlasting the climategate revelations, advice from Stephen Schneider on how to lie ethically and from Madison Avenue advertisers and image makers, hey, why don’t we just Karlize the Pause and make it disappear. We’ve done worse. With a totally irrational support for it, they readjusted the pause into a climbing heat wave. Some of the ill folk will find relief here. Others will remain basically out of work, but it will stem the epidemic.

December 6, 2015 12:16 am

This is mistaken – the model to use to understand what will happen is not grief in the face of loss. The model to use is ‘cognitive dissonance’ – the source is the study ‘When Prophecy Fails’.
When face with failure of an apocalyptic prophecy, the believers do not abandon their beliefs. They assert them more strongly. Belief is actually strengthened.
What happens is that the movement at a grass roots level tends more and more to extremes of certainty, at the same time as the leadership becomes more and more nervous about the possibility of failure of the prophecy. This was documented minutely in the case of the Millerites, who had predicted the end of the world on a defined date.
At the same time as the leadership became more and more nervous about betting everything on this prediction, the grass roots people became more and more strident.
The same thing will happen with CAGW as the prophecies of disaster and of warming continue to fail. You should expect the predictions to get more and more apocalyptic, attacks on non-believers will get more and more virulent, the grass roots will become more and more convinced that its going to happen. The emphasis will move from the predictions to discussing why it is that the rest of the world does not believe, and the answer will continue to be manipulation of the media by vested interests.
The leadership on the other hand will be getting more and more nervous because it will be clear to them that the future of the movement is being bet on predictions which are not going to come true. The situation will at some point, though probably not for another 10-20 years, reach a tipping point, and the movement will simply fade away.
Do get hold of ‘When Prophecy Fails’, and read it. Its as relevant now as it was 50 years ago. The literature on mass popular delusions and group think is also very relevant, but that only describes the mechanism by which uniformity of opinion in the face of at best slight evidence comes about. We as a species are prone to this, whether its health scares, demonisations of various outgroups, financial manias, war frenzies. This literature is very interesting, but it doesn’t help with our present issue, which is to predict the course of the infection.
Do not expect acceptance of the failure of the prophecy to be acknowledged any time soon. Rather, expect the conviction of the faithful to be strengthened, and the more the prophecies fail, the more their convictions will be strengthened. Yes, a sobering thought.

Reply to  michel
December 6, 2015 2:16 pm

That’s an insightful idea! I have not read the book, but looked at the Wikipedia entry (not the same thing!). Note this…
“Festinger stated that five conditions must be present if someone is to become a more fervent believer after a failure or disconfirmation:
(1) A belief must be held with deep conviction and it must have some relevance to action, that is, to what the believer does or how he or she behaves.
(2) The person holding the belief must have committed himself to it; that is, for the sake of his belief, he must have taken some important action that is difficult to undo. In general, the more important such actions are, and the more difficult they are to undo, the greater is the individual’s commitment to the belief.”
As Randy said upstream, we can only guess the depth of belief in climate change among activists. I suspect that it is like those who say they are Wiccans, for most its an affectation. They believe the world will die from warming just as their peers believed in 2008 that the world would soon run out of oil, and before that the world would die from overpopulation, and before that the world would die from pollution.
In none of those movements did most “believers” act on their belief (beyond commenting on the internet and such), let along make a commitment (as described above). When each of their movements collapsed, its people moved on. Paul Ehrlich is the paradigmatic doomster.

December 6, 2015 5:33 am

James Hansen: I have suggested, asked, or begged lawmakers, in more nations and states than I can remember, to consider a simple, honest, rising carbon fee with all funds distributed to legal residents.
How is this plan supposed to work? Carbon fees will raise the cost of carbon-based fuels. The redistribution of the fees to citizens will enable them to afford the increased costs. So how is that going to reduce CO2 emissions? Please someone, help me out here.

Reply to  docgee
December 6, 2015 2:19 pm

That’s not how people run their household or business accounting. More broadly, as prices and incomes rise people change their basket of goods and services consumed. Things whose prices rise the most are consumed less — from either demand decline, substitution, or more efficient use (e.g., input of time or money to decrease input of that good).

David in Michigan
December 6, 2015 8:43 am

James Hansen: “I have suggested, asked, or begged lawmakers, in more nations and states than I can remember, to consider a simple, honest, rising carbon fee with all funds distributed to legal residents.”
You forgot the asterisk after the word residents. Like this “…… all funds distributed to legal residents.* ”
That leads to the footnote: ” *Less shipping, handling and administrative costs.” These will be substantial. Count on it.
And I thought it curious that the word “resident” is modified by the word “legal”. Whatever could this imply?
[Rather, “Plus tag, title, taxes, license, shipping, handling, and administrative costs.” .mod]

December 6, 2015 9:29 am

Great post by Larry Kummer. There is an urgent priority to build and maintain protective infrastructure to guard against routine instances of Extreme Weather. For example, “Sandy” was just one of many storms to hit Mid-Atlantic and Southern parts of the US East coast every 50-80 years, as recorded in colonial histories and back further through proxies. Ditto for Katrina.
But there’s virtually no constituency for building such unsexy projects as sea walls, dykes and drainage canals. For their part, Green Malthusians want to deindustrialize and depopulate the planet, and will even recarbonize economies such as Germany and France to achieve such ends. (Closing nuclear stations and reopening coal plants)
The libertarian market fundmentalists would rather drown than endorse a government program, even though the private sector has no interest in low-yield, high investment infrastructure programs. The mainstream GOP exists for the sole purpose of implementing a corporatist agenda (TPP), shielding mega-wealthy from paying taxes and feeding various military and healthcare monopoly complexes. Ditto for Democrats furnished with a lot more Tartuffian hypocrisy)… while the liberal radicals are fixated on transgender bathrooms and other micro-identity political agendas.
The only forces in the US advocating for growth enhancing and protective infrastructure are long since dead. Lincoln, Hoover and T. Roosevelt on the GOP side; FDR (especially as in TVA) and JFK on the Democratic Party side. So I guess we’re screwed.

Reply to  sarastro92
December 6, 2015 2:22 pm

That’s a bleak but pretty accurate assessment. This situation results from our devolution from citizens into consumers. We critique our political leaders and government like effete diners wondering if this restaurant deserves their patronage.
When we accept responsibility for the deeds of our government and seize the reins again — then we’ll see some changes. At least then we’ll know whose is responsible for the results.

December 6, 2015 5:51 pm

Meanwhile the ideology of environmentalism spreads like a cancer and gets engrained in every aspect of life from schools to universities, scientific academies to government scientific agencies, and government departments to the governments of the day.
How is all that ever going to be dismantled in order to rid the world of this cancer of scientific and political corruption on climate change, and return the world to an age of enlightenment?
Well, just maybe, the dismantling could start if America elects, as its next president, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carla Fiorina, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. If that were to happen, America could then lead the world out of the last 25 years of scientific darkness.

Reply to  Mervyn
December 6, 2015 6:47 pm

“Meanwhile the ideology of environmentalism”
That’s seems quite binary to me. I am old enough to remember when our cities were cloaked in smog every day, when major rivers and lakes were heavily polluted, and when cars emitted toxic lead. Against the strong opposition of corporations we’ve made great progress in cleaning up America.
But much remains to be done. For example, the oceans suffer from pollution and destructive exploitation (e.g., not just overfishing, but fishing by explosives and poison). The consequences could be painful.
It’s not so one-side an issue as you imply.

John Robertson
Reply to  Editor of the Fabius Maximus website
December 6, 2015 10:57 pm

Small detail.“Meanwhile the ideology of environmentalism”
The people Mervyn is talking about had nothing to do with the concerned citizens who cleaned up our air and water.
These zealots/cancer cells would have done everything in their power to prevent practical solutions.
As they do today.
They demonize Carbon dioxide(If they get past carbon) yet their solutions do zip.
They are from the same branch of societal cancer as bureaucracy and kleptocracy.
Zealots, willing to do anything to save the ecosystem.
Except take a science course or five and learn something about this ecosystem.

December 7, 2015 7:30 am

I agree with the article, but actually, bargaining is the third stage, and depression is the fourth.

Reply to  Marianna
December 7, 2015 2:08 pm

Great catch! And the correct sequence appears in the graphic at the top. Dyslexia strikes again.

Reply to  Marianna
December 7, 2015 2:16 pm

OK — it was the graphic that was wrong! Thank you for catching that.
As noted, the sequence is variable. People travel through these stages at their own pace, in their own way. It’s a model, not a roadmap.

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