Roger Pielke Jr. has posted a sub stack with an excellent take on climate hysteria.
Just Stop Oil, a UK-based campaign group, has recently caught the attention of the media and the public by disrupting public transport and high-profile sporting events. As the name implies, they wish to abruptly halt oil production. The group’s inflammatory manifesto insists that if our reliance on fossil fuels doesn’t end within eight years, we will witness the “starvation and slaughter of billions of the poor – and the utter betrayal of our children and their future.”
In his article titled “What if We Just Stop Oil?” Pielke Jr. suggests that this campaign is not just misguided but potentially catastrophic. He asserts,
“Advocating for the impossible is a good way to get nothing done.”https://substack.com/notes/post/p-133501038
Moreover, he points out that no scientific literature suggests it’s even remotely possible to eliminate fossil fuel use in the next eight years.
Pielke criticizes the campaign’s ill-informed call to just stop oil, noting that such a sudden halt would result in a severe global energy crisis. As evidence, he points to the 1973 oil crisis, when an abrupt change in oil supply led to prices spiking by 400%. A similar situation today would result in oil prices reaching $300 per barrel, leading to inflation, depressed economic growth, and a significant increase in global hunger and malnutrition.
Just Stop Oil’s rhetoric can be traced back to what Richard Hofstadter’s famous 1964 essay termed the “paranoid style” of politics. Hofstadter describes this approach as having an “anxiety of those who are living through the last days” and setting a date for the apocalypse.
The article suggests that the paranoid approach feeds on demands for impossible goals, leading to inevitable failure, which further fuels the sense of powerlessness among the movement’s followers. This concept is encapsulated in Hofstadter’s words:
“This demand for total triumph leads to the formulation of hopelessly unrealistic goals, and since these goals are not even remotely attainable, failure constantly heightens the paranoid’s sense of frustration.”https://harpers.org/archive/1964/11/the-paranoid-style-in-american-politics/
Pielke Jr. laments:
The fact that Just Stop Oil and their fellow travelers believe that we face a looming apocalypse is not simply the result of some millenarian cult leader — it is in part the result of being egged on by scientists and political leaders. Below is the header found on the homepage of Just Stop Oil.https://substack.com/notes/post/p-133501038
Probably the most scathing part of Pielke’s essay is this:
Here are some other quotes that Just Stop Oil cites in support of its impossible demands, based on a belief that “Further expansion of oil and gas production globally is putting us on course for human extinction”:
- “If governments are serious about the climate crisis, there can be no new investments in oil, gas and coal, from now – from this year.” Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency, 2021
- “If damaging tipping cascades can occur and a global tipping point cannot be ruled out, then this is an existential threat to civilization. No amount of economic cost–benefit analysis is going to help us. We need to change our approach to the climate problem.” Lenton et al, 2020
- ‘If we go into a runaway climate effect, the damage may be between €100 trillion and the loss of civilisation” Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber
- “The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Sixth Assessment Report, Working Group II Co-Chair Hans-Otto Pörtner, 28th February 2021
I am aware of no scientist — including those cited above and those leading the IPCC — who has offered any sort of corrective to the scientific misunderstandings advanced by Just Stop Oil. If I’ve missed such correctives, please let me know.https://substack.com/notes/post/p-133501038
What makes this situation even more problematic is the fact that Just Stop Oil, despite its misguided stance, is backed by wealthy Americans whose fortunes came from the very fossil fuels they’re now opposing. This situation creates an ironic and potentially harmful dynamic in which wealth and influence stoke the fires of anxiety and fear among regular people, many of whom are young activists.
Pielke’s views would not generally be considered those of a climate skeptic:
Let me remind readers here that I am fully on board with the importance of decarbonizing the global economy, a topic I wrote a PhD dissertation on almost 30 years ago and my book The Climate Fix much more recently.https://substack.com/notes/post/p-133501038
In conclusion, Pielke asserts that “we need to do better by these activists.” He implores us to move away from apocalyptic rhetoric and instead engage these young people with realistic and effective policies that can make a tangible difference. As he rightly puts it,
“We owe them at least that.”https://substack.com/notes/post/p-133501038