Are Doomsday Scenarios Best Seen As Failed Predictions Or Political Detonators?

Date: 16/09/17  | Tor H Aase, The Geographical Journal of Nepal

The so-called ‘Theory of Himalayan Environmental Degradation’ predicted an environmental collapse by the end of last millennium, threatening the life of millions of people. Fortunately, the all-encompassing crisis did not materialize.

The article shows that the ‘Theory’ failed to take into account the vast ecological variation in Himalaya and thus generalized its contentions to the whole mountain range on the basis of deficient data. But, on the other hand, what would have happened if the prediction had not been made? A doomsday scenario like the Theory of Himalayan Degradation can, from the perspective of positivist hypothesis testing, be viewed a posteriori as a failed prediction; but from another perspective it can be seen as an alarm clock that triggered a series of policy initiatives and new knowledge.

Introduction

From time to time, doomsday scenarios enter global academic and political discourses. The gloomy future that was intimated in The Limits to Growth created great havoc in the 1970s (Meadows et al., 1972). More recently, Huntington’s notion of the Clash of Civilisations (1993) activated a heated debate over the future of multiculturalism. A hallmark of such scenarios is that they rarely come true. The 1984 passed much more pleasantly than Huxley envisaged. But should we thereby dismiss them as useless, as failed predictions that the world would have made better without? This article looks at one such prediction. The ‘Theory of Himalayan Environmental Degradation’ predicted an environmental collapse in the world’s greatest mountains by the end of last millennium, threatening the life of millions of people. Fortunately, the all-encompassing crisis did not materialize. But what would have happened if the prediction had not been made? The article asks if doomsday scenarios like the Theory of Himalayan Degradation could be regarded as an alarm clock which sets academics and politicians in motion, rather than ridiculing them on hindsight as nothing more than failed predictions.

Full Paper Here.

HT/ The GWPF

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62 thoughts on “Are Doomsday Scenarios Best Seen As Failed Predictions Or Political Detonators?

  1. “Fortunately, the all-encompassing crisis did not materialize.”

    But it did stoke the flames of fear in the pathetic minds of the indoctrinated. Mission accomplished ….. and the beat goes on, unfortunately.

  2. On a smaller scale, I’ve seen weathermen make predictions for severe storms that failed to materialize, for one reason or another. Their looks of relief at being wrong were quite visible.
    The mistake was neglecting the variables present in the Himalayan ridge. There are microclimates everywhere. If that weren’t so, the Mt. St. Helens would not have a growing snow pack on one side of the caldera for several decades now, while the other side does not. It’s just those few degrees of difference, the topography, the exposure to the sun or lack of it – all of those made the difference.

    • I think you nailed it with the micro-climate observation. I live in Northern Michigan most of the year, and the lakes have a profound impact on everything. You can be getting a foot of snow in one spot, and have a sunny day less than 10 miles away. Just a couple days ago the thermo-meter on my jalopy varied be as much as 14 degrees in a 36 mile drive, with an elevation change of no more than 400 feet, (apologies on the thermometer spelling, but our local 9 year old super-genius questioned us 2 years ago, when she said “I think it should be thermo-meter)

      • I agree wholeheartedly, the meaning of climates as I was taught seems to have shifted dramatically over the years with this addled concept of a ‘global climate’.

        Prior to this and while studying botany climates were mostly small things, environments – capsules – like ‘the north side of trees’ or ‘beneath large rocks’ or ‘coastal’ or tropical’. On researching a trip to New Zealand I read that one side of a mountain had something like a mere 30cm of rain per year, a dozen kilometers away the rainfall was measured in meters. Those are climates.

    • I have photos of microclimates from my front yard. Just tickles me when a warmian wants to argue that point, using a complete lack of understanding.
      Sun = warm = snow melts
      Shadow = cool = snow does not melt

    • So in summary, these so-called ‘experts’ did a botched job by not researching the area properly to take note of the micro-climates. Seems to be a very common theme amongst the climate ‘scientists’ crowd.

    • Further more, “1984” was never intended to be a prophecy about that particular year. (it’s just a book) But it does look like it has begun to be fulfilled more and more with every passing year. (just look at the corruption in the democrat party as revealed by wiki leaks last year) Orwell was rather insightful…

      • Orwell actually knew his history. Other than the technology, that large governments (and organizations such as Google or the East India Company) work the same way as his Big Brother can be seen by reading about the Roman Empire. (Or China, or England, or… Even the short-lived and much smaller Athenian Empire shows the same problems when you look into it.)

      • Hillary’s supposed takeaway from 1984:

        “Attempting to define reality is a core feature of authoritarianism. This is what the Soviets did when they erased political dissidents from historical photos. This is what happens in George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, when a torturer holds up four fingers and delivers electric shocks until his prisoner sees five fingers as ordered. The goal is to make you question logic and reason and to sow mistrust towards exactly the people we need to rely on: our leaders, the press, experts who seek to guide public policy based on evidence, ourselves.”

        Yes Secretary Clinton. Five fingers.

    • Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ was set in 2540. It dealt with the development of eugenics and reproductive control.

      One great problem with science fiction prediction novels is that the author predicts future technology on the basis of present knowledge, but cannot take major discoveries and innovations into account.

      Thus Victorian and Edwardian science fiction imagined an amazing mechanical future, but with no jet engines or electronics. 1950s and 60s science fiction could not predict the ubiquitous microprocessor, so still had humans controlling machines – Star Wars, for instance, has Luke manually handling an anti-aircraft gun as if it were the 1940s, while such guns nowadays are all unmanned and computer-controlled.

      Julian Simon pointed out that this was the great downfall of the doom predictors – Malthusian, Climate Change or what-have-you. They all assume that a particular human activity will continue expanding with no change or development, while in reality EVERYTHING – energy generation, the motor car, theatre entertainment, the retail shopping system – all of it will simply be discarded when a new development takes its place…

      • Could not predict the microprocessor? Have you never read any of Isaac Asimov’s work? The Three Laws of Robotics, part of a short story “Runaround”. published 1942.
        I, Robot – published in 1950.
        The Foundation Trilogy, published in 1942.
        I don’t know where you get that notion, but I think Asimov was miles ahead of you, as were Heinlein and Frank Herbert (Dune) and many, many other people. Maybe they didn’t have the engineering that we have now, but they certainly had forward vision and imagination.
        I don’t know where you get your information, but NOT ALL modern military guns are robotic, automatic, and/or computer-controlled.
        Lucas’s sci-fi film was meant to be reminiscent of the weekly serial shorts that were common in movie theaters in the 1950s and 1960s. That was his stated intent, NOT based on an ignorance of military weaponry.

    • Yeah that mistake really bugs me. Lumping those two in with failed scientific predictions also bugs me. The dystopian nightmare scenarios imagined by Huxley, Orwell, and Zamyatin will always be a threat, because they’re based on human nature.

      They stand as a constant warning. Semper Vigilans.

  3. “The article asks if doomsday scenarios like the Theory of Himalayan Degradation could be regarded as an alarm clock which sets academics and politicians in motion …”

    The goal is permanent social turbulence created by serial shocks, to precipitate the comorbidities of learned helplessness and PTSD-induced apathy.

  4. Since when is apocalyptacism not theology?

    Since when is apocalyptacism science?

    Since when is apocalyptacism not an instrument of political and social control?

    Jewish apocalyptacism. Christian apocalyptacism. Secular apocalyptacisms like Bakunin’s nihilism, CAGW (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming) or peak oil. What’s the difference? Don’t we see the same missionary zeal, the same messianism manifest itself in all of these?

    • Actually, apocalyptacism is a control method. Populations rise and fall, people follow rules they don’t really understand and panicked people are easy to lead, as the panic creates the opening for the charismatic leader. It’s a psychological technique.

    • “Don’t we see the same missionary zeal, the same messianism manifest itself in all of these?”

      Yes, we do, and it accompanied by the same zealotry, the same proselytizing that you find in TV preachers who preach doom and destruction if you don’t send them all your money. Anyone besides me remember Jimmie Bakker and Tammy Faye?

      Natural cycles don’t matter to these clankers. They care only about converting you, the naive and presumably stupid, to their viewpoint, and you’re even more welcome if you have CASH!

      • In Charles Murray’s “The Bell Curve,” the most astonishing revelation is that a large (LARGE!) percentage of the human species of all “races” actually have a measurable IQ not too far above that delineated “mental retardation.” IOW, about 75+. This explains much about the ease of manipulation of minds. College is no antidote as acceptance to such “higher learning” institutions has always been a matter of writing the check, and nowadays, telling the admissions folk what they most want to hear. IQ has relatively little to do with it.
        The phrase “useful idiots” is perilously close to the mark, particularly now that we’ve dumbed education down to the level where even “smart” people can literally be indoctrinated to believe ANYTHING.

        Exhibit A: “Myofascial release” practitioners. I know 20 college grads who think this is a “thing.” They all believe unreservedly in global warming, too–and the one who lives in the middle of the woods has solar panels now. ‘Nuff said?

  5. Indian scientists [including myself, wrote to ministry of forests & environment; and sent an article to CSE’s Down To Earth magazine, just before itis going for printing, announced Noble Prize to IPCC & Al Gore, and thus in its place another article of mine relating to Polavaram irrigation dam project was published] questioned IPCC’s conclusion on Himalayan Glaciers melt issue. R. K. Pachauri, the then Chairman of IPCC, dismissed criticism, claim it as “voodoo science”. After 2009 December Copenhagen fiasco, IPCC says the Himalayan Glaciers won’t melt by 2035 & expressed regret by saying that established standards of evidence not applied properly.

    In 2014 a study of 2181 Himalayan Glaciers from 2000-2011 showed that 86.6% of the glaciers were not receding [this was also informed to members of parliament in the session by minister concerned after his return from Paris meet in December 2015].

    Geological Survey of India monitoring few important glaciers in Himalayan region, Gangotri, is one of them feed the main river Ganga. Due to formation of fault zone the ice started receding and now it started recovering.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  6. There are always people endlessly claiming doom is just around the corner. They make hundreds or thousands of claims of impending doom, and all they have to do is be right once and they’ll forever scream – “See, I told you so!”

    • ScienceABC123., and as is so often the case — for such folks as these who apparently are unfamiliar with scientific first principles — their “claim” regarding enviro degradation processes was characterized as a “theory”; where at best it should be a “hypothesis” … perhaps even a “crackpot hypothesis”. Wondering whether these scientific non-practitioners have any shame or introspection. [Was glad to see that Charles the moderator did note their use of theory with scare quotes: “Theory”]

    • And cannot we accept that we are in an interglacial period within which the earth naturally warms every time? Why look for a reason to castigate humanity? Mental illness?

      • Unfortunately, our present age is best characterized as “MASS EMOTIONAL INCONTINENCE.” Logic, reason, intelligent arguments based on facts lose every time to those with a “triggered” brain stem. The best hope is that they’ll all die of adrenal fatigue when the Constant Outrage makes them old before their time. But I think in the minds of mainstream America, they look more ridiculous every day.

  7. “The article asks if doomsday scenarios like the Theory of Himalayan Degradation could be regarded as an alarm clock which sets academics and politicians in motion, rather than ridiculing them on hindsight as nothing more than failed predictions.”

    I’m sure one can find instances of where alarmism and dishonesty paradoxically produced good results. I am equally certain you can find instances of the opposite. The only way you can justify it is if you can find more of the former than the latter. I severely doubt that to be the case.

    Years ago, I was in a vehicle that collided with a telephone pole. Had I been wearing a seat belt, it would have cut me in two to make room for the pole which came to occupy the place I had been. This, however, is not a valid argument for eschewing the use of seat belts.

  8. Makes for a “nice soft landing” when your ridiculous conjecture fails to materialize. Makes it ever so much easier to jump on board the consensus view, when you know there will be a buffet of ready made excuses for being wrong.

  9. I can remember a number of years ago when one of our local stations hired a new weatherman and everyone kept telling him that the one small mountain would have an effect upon our weather. He of course proceeded to explain to all of us who had grown up and observed all of the effects that the geographical feature had upon the weather that he knew more about weather than we did and that such things just did not happen. I just happened to be watching the day several years later when he finally offered his apology. Ever since I have always thought that some of the arrogance of “book learning ” needed to be either sweat out of or beat out of anyone claiming superior knowledge with regards to all things pertaining to weather.

  10. Agreed. In my own experience, getting a degree is barely the beginning of becoming an engineer. Seems to be similar in other fields with practical applications.

    “In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.”

  11. The “Crying of Wolf” is a bad thing to do. The villagers could use some exercise but, let’s not cause any heart attacks.

    • Martin457 opined: “The villagers could use some exercise…”

      Appropriate exercise might be gained by actually running those crying ‘Wolf’ out of town on a rail.

      • As someone who’s not actually lived in USA, I’ve always wanted to know what “running them out of town on a rail” means. Do you tie them to the back of a train? Can you enlighten me BroStef?

        Regardless of my querying quaint American colloquialisms, the article gives too much respectability to doomsday scenarios. Did anyone in India, China, the Himalayan states actually do anything in response to the silly prediction? I don’t think so. It was widely ignored, as it should have been. Just like everyone ignores all the other silly predictions that we love to snicker at here at WUWT.

    • Crying wolf!! when it isn’t a wolf that’s coming over the horizon will prove to be an embarrassment to those who did cry “wolf!”.

  12. “Geography Journal …”

    No need to go further!

    Geography is not a Science. How can specialists of “Non-Science” judge a “Nonsense” paper regarding its “Science” value?

    They could not! Logical Fallacy.

    OH! By the way. Where does “Climate Science” derive? Geography!

    Hahahahahheheheheohohoohahahahah

  13. Students of history might argue that many civilizations, cultures and peoples have faced doomsday on multiple occasions and locations. While a lot of it has been war and genocide from outside influences, a lot of it has also been climate change from natural disasters such as floods, volcanoes, hurricanes, drought, tsunami, cold, disease… amongst others not to mention self inflicted natural resource depletion.

    Or sacrificing our virgins (carbon tax) to the weather gods (Gov’t). I could list dozens of examples of doomsday for many cultures and peoples and even entire civilizations over thousands of years, and the historical record is chalk full of this although I doubt anyone really would take issue with this fact. Just think about some of the Bronze age survivors in the Mediterranean when the Santorini volcano blew the island up with widespread tsunami’s throughout the region and drastic crop failure for years in much of Europe. Some think this is the origins of the Atlantis myth. Or the flood myth from ancient times that almost every ancient civilization had. Obviously, this was the start of the interglacial when millions of square miles were flooded world wide by 400 feet of ocean rise from the melting of continental ice sheets and the end of the last ice age. Dozens of large mega fauna species went extinct concurrently at the same time, and must have been an extremely turbulent time for thousands of years that our ancestors witnessed and lived through.

    Doomsday is in our DNA, because it is an historical fact throughout much of our recent history. The problem is making the forecast accurately, and these things sometimes come out of the blue when least expecting it. Now with 7.5 million people on the planet, and many of us no longer practising agriculture, or even hunting and gathering, and the die is cast. Global cooling will be our doomsday, whatever the cause whether it be volcanism, natural variability or the beginning of the next ice age. Which has been progressively cooler since the Holocene Climate Optimum. I make no prediction when, but I do think this is the real crisis we will face as a global civilization, which will be global cooling…not global warming. It is much easier to adapt to a warming world than it would be recovering from 1 major crop failure in the northern hemisphere.

    • That’s “billion” with a “b,” if you’re talking population numbers. I personally believe the world population has already peaked some years ago, such bulge brought about by sudden (since 1880) proliferation of cheap, non-perishable calories and the means to move them globally. However, from the moment that populations obtain (a) a middle class level of prosperity and (b) birth control, they plummet rapidly to less than replacement so I believe the Great Population Bulge from 1880 through 2000 will ultimately be seen as an historic anomaly. While Global Cooling will certainly cause mass migrations, this will happen incrementally and there is more than enough land mass to absorb that population. African-style famines, etc., will most likely be defeated permanently in our present century due to GMO’s, automated farming, etc. and be a thing of the past. The biggest question in my mind is how we’ll occupy ourselves once AI robots are doing 85% of the work that was done by humans in the past!

  14. None of the Global Warming predictions are intended to be serious statements of what future conditions will be; none are ever remembered and tested except by the Sceptics who are constantly ignored. The predictions are solely intended to inflame fears in the minds of the Public, to make the Public support CAGW theory and Fund ‘Climate Research’, justify taxes, restrictive regulations and funnel money into the pockets of members of the CAGW Cabal.

  15. The author has failed to account for the ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ approach of climate ‘science’ which means they can claim ‘ but it still could’ and so they were not wrong after all.

    • They claim everything. Thus, even if we have global cooling, that will be blamed on CAGW. The groundwork for this is already in place. If such cooling takes place, then the globalist media will inundate the world with reports of how we caused it, and they will refer to those few reports ( such as the Gulf stream slow down) endlessly. They are well capable of fabricating an entirely new scenario on how Amy cooling is our fault.

  16. The article asks if doomsday scenarios like the Theory of Himalayan Degradation could be regarded as an alarm clock which sets academics and politicians in motion, rather than ridiculing them on hindsight as nothing more than failed predictions.

    Why does the article not ask if in fact they are a way to attract long legged ex models into matrimony.

    I mean is this a straw man or is it an aunt sally? you put up preposterous propositions, of the quality of climate change theory itself, to knock them down?

    Doomsday scenarios are emotional narratives put up to justify morally indefensible political and commercial activities, by cynical men and women who exploit the natural instincts and amour propre of the masses they seek to control.

    There. Anyone can make a statement of a hypothesis, and I didn’t even ask for a government grant.

    And I challenge anyone to refute it, and I would go further and say that it is an informative perspective too..

  17. Whatever Tor H Aase, The Geographical Journal of Nepal published it is not research, it is not a study or even findings.

    The article does come across as an erudite thoughts of one person.

    ” doomsday scenario like the Theory of Himalayan Degradation can, from the perspective of positivist hypothesis testing, be viewed a posteriori as a failed prediction; but from another perspective it can be seen as an alarm clock that triggered a series of policy initiatives and new knowledge.”

    An imaginary claim.
    • A) the predictions are falsified.
    • B) There is no proof offered that “new knowledge” was triggered by false disaster predictions
    • C) It appears that “new knowledge” was already in practice or development amongst the people of Nepal.

    Attribution of policy initiatives or “new knowledge” to baseless and failed disaster predictions appears to be a pitiful attempt find any benefits for predicting disaster scenarios.

    The original article’s title should be “speculation through convolutions on a Himalayan scale”.

  18. The Church of Climate Scientology and its climate scientologists approve of all the doomsday scenarios. Repent ye evil CO2 polluters! The Day of Reckoning is at hand! Well, maybe in 20 or 30 years. Maybe longer. Never mind all the ones we were wrong about – all of them. Send money now!

  19. The real doomsday scenarios are governments/various organizations (examples MSM & academia) aiding & even causing economic and cultural collapses of countries, not the usual proclaimed false-flag scenarios.

  20. I was force-fed books like “Entropy” and “The Fate of the Earth” back in high school in the 1980s. Needless to say, books like that were about 99.99% incorrect, even if you munged the definition of “successful prediction”.

    So, yeah, been there, done that, got the nightmares.

  21. Well, gee whiz, people, the Book of Revelations has it all settled, already!! Didn’t you know that? We’re all going to be annihilated when the (what number?) angel breaks the seals or something and pours out the vial on the Sun!

    I remember all the Doomsday scenarios about nuclear weapons devastating the Earth and leaving it barren and sterile, nothing left alive, and those terrible movies that had us all in rags, and it didn’t happen. Yes, we detonated Ivy Mike and Castle Bravo, and the Soviets dropped Tsar Bomba, and then some years later, the Chernobyl reactor suffered bad management, an accident happened, and we’re still here, fer Pete’s sake. And then along comes the 2004 Honshu earthquake, dropping the eastern edge of that island by 13 feet, the Honshu reactor melts down and we’re all doomed again!!! But we’re all still here, nonetheless.

    Doomsday forecast stories abound in every culture in the world. The people who come up with them are just positive we’re all doomed, but if you offer to help them find another planet to live on, they get mad at you. It must be difficult, being wrong like that.

    • Wow, I must have been asleep when I posted this comment, but the Honshu quake was in 2011. My bad. Apologies to all. I will now go deprive myself of chocolate for an hour.

    • Indeed it was, Michael.

      It was supposed to be a warning, unfortunately the “Liberal elites” at both sides of the Atlantic have taken it to be an instruction manual.

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