A climate of fear

Ed. I said it two months ago: The global warming movement is really secular apocalypticism. IMO, the movement is best understood as a cultural rather than scientific movement. The scientific jargon only serves to lend it a veneer of authority and thus legitimacy.

The Age March 18, 2007

Apocalyptic talk about global warming has stirred the sediment of old fears – the mushroom cloud has returned to haunt us. But, Thornton McCamish writes, the last great fright was a little different from the new one.

LAST year felt a bit like Armageddon all over again. It began on TV. Jericho was first: the sinister snickering of geiger-counters, the ICMBs flaming across the American evening sky. Then came Heroes, in which one of the characters, who can paint prophetic images, starts depicting New York under nuclear attack. On the latest 24, the terrorists upgraded to A-bombs.

It spread to literature. One of last year’s most celebrated novels, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, is an awesomely bleak epic set in the ashen aftermath of what seems to be a nuclear war.

The Bomb was back, like the ghost at a banquet of anxiety. And it wasn’t just explicit imagery that evoked nukes. It was all the stuff about the world ending. From Al Gore to the International Panel on Climate Change, everyone had grim news for the planet.

At the leading edge of climate pessimism, the prognoses were frankly apocalyptic. “Before this century is over, billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic,” predicted James Lovelock, a renowned environmental scientist.

. . . more


6 thoughts on “A climate of fear”

  1. Global warming has already had a negative impact on world food production. The Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, one of the most respected scientific institutions in the world, and a major contractor the US government, has found that over thapst twenty years warming temperatures have caused annual losses of roughly $5 billion for major food crops

    Crops Feel The Heat As The World Warms, Science Daily

    From 1981-2002, warming reduced the combined production of wheat, corn, and barley–cereal grains that form the foundation of much of the world’s diet–by 40 million metric tons per year. Researchers provide documentation that this decline is due to increases in global temperatures.

    “Most people tend to think of climate change as something that will impact the future,” said Christopher Field, co-author on the study and director of Carnegie’s Department of Global Ecology in Stanford, Calif. “But this study shows that warming over the past two decades has already had real effects on global food supply.”

    The study is the first to estimate how much global food production has already been affected by climate change. Field and David Lobell, lead author of the study and a researcher at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, compared yield figures from the Food and Agriculture Organization with average temperatures and precipitation in the major growing regions.

    ..The main value of this study, the authors said, was that it demonstrates a clear and simple correlation between temperature increases and crop yields at the global scale. However, Field and Lobell also used this information to further investigate the relationship between observed warming trends and agriculture.

    Global warming is not a phenomenon of the mind, a popular mania, as this Contrarians and Denialists suggests. It is an event that is happening now and can be measured with real data.

  2. Rising temperatures have led to a 30% decrease in the size of annual snowpack over the Cascade mountain range in Washington State and Oregon. Experts predict that if this trend continues it will adversely affect the region’s ability to generate hydroelectric power and will cause the areas’s fishinng, timber, and agricultural production to fall.

    CORVALLIS, Ore. – Global warming in coming decades may cause the disappearance of large areas of the low-elevation snowpack in the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest, a new study concludes..

    ..The potential for changes in snow and rain precipitation patterns, experts say, could ultimately affect not just ski resorts but also stream flows, fisheries, flood control, hydroelectric power generation, irrigated agriculture and many other water-related issues.

    “Previous studies show that snowpack has fluctuated widely in the past, but appears to be trending downward in the Pacific Northwest since the 1920s,” said Anne Nolin, an assistant professor in the OSU Department of Geosciences. “This region has already experienced the largest declines in snowpack in the western United States. What we’re able to do now is identify much more precisely where the snow may disappear, based on the warming we expect. We’ve never before had projections that are this specific in their spatial scale.”


    Global warming is known to be destructive, but a study released Wednesday shows it also will be expensive, costing Washington state and its residents millions of dollars in higher prices and remedial measures.

    Climbing temperatures over the next 40 years will boost the cost of timber, water and crops, cause twice the wildfire damage that occurs now, exacerbate health issues and require expensive shoring-up to avoid damage to Tacoma, Willapa Bay and other low-lying areas.

    Those are the top-level conclusions reached in “Impacts of Climate Change on Washington’s Economy,” a 118-page, $100,000 study prepared by researchers from Washington and Oregon.

    “It’s safe to say that virtually every aspect of the state’s economy will be affected by climate change,” said co-author Bob Doppelt, director of the Climate Leadership Initiative at the University of Oregon, in a teleconference after the study’s release.


    Global warming is not a phenomenon of the mind, a popular mania, as this Contrarians and Denialists suggests. It is an event that is happening now and can be measured with real data.

  3. note # 1:

    Strangely, the quote does not mention that while present “growing regions” will be affected, the overall effect of warming temps will be an increase in the total arable land overall. For example, the North American wheat belt will shift to the north where it will be larger and water will be more plentiful. Wait, it’s not that strange – it’s not about the science, it’s about politics…

    note # 2:

    Global warming is known to be destructive,

    Right, but only in a parochial way. Only in an unbalanced way. Sort of like someone standing next to a surgeon, seeing him cut into the patient, and declaring “STOP! You are being destructive!!!”. Change is can be scary, so some will always oppose it…

  4. Christopher: Your scenario fails to account for a number of important factors.

    1. It will be warmer, but it could also be drier and more arid. The Oregon State University researchers note;

    “Current global climate model predictions suggest we’re going to see more frequent winter rain events and the snow melt in the spring will begin earlier, which would affect planning for irrigation and flood control,” Nolin said. “And snowpack is one of the things that’s critically important for recharging groundwater, since it melts slowly and infiltrates, rather than running off as rainfall does.”


    2. What about population shifts resulting from desertification and lack of water in equatorial regions? What is the geopolitical impact of billions of people moving to northern Europe and Canada in search of food and water? Should I be looking for prime real estate near in Alaska right now?

    3. Newly fertile northern lands can’t offset newly arid equatorial lands because of the shape of the earth.

    Geradus Mercator invented his famous projection in 1569 as an aid to navigators. On his map, lines of latitude and longitude intersect at right angles and thus the direction of travel – the rhumb line – is consistent. The distortion of the Mercator Map increases as you move north and south from the equator. On Mercator’s map Antarctica appears to be a huge continent that wraps around the earth and Greenland appears to be just as large as South America although Greenland is merely one-eighth the size of South America. Mercator never intended his map to be used for purposes other than navigation although it became one of the most popular world map projections.


    Just a few problems with the rosy global warming scenario, I’m sure there are loads more.

  5. point #1:

    wrong wrong wrong. Geologically speaking, there is LESS, not MORE desertification when the planets overall climate is warmer. The current ice age (we are on the tale end of one) is a likely CAUSE of desertification, global warming is its SOLUTION.

    point #2:

    You should think about real estate in Alaska, if only to help calm your alarmist mind…;)

    point #3:

    See # 1, your assertion of desertification is groundless. Just as importantly, your crude attempt to use what cartographers call “projection” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Map_projection) and claim that the “shape of the earth” somehow leads to less land in the northern latitudes is VERY VERY FUNNY!!!! Really, I was rofl (rolling on the floor laughing). You have unwittingly become the butt of the office joke of the day around here. You see, the title on my door is “GIS Manager” (That’s Geographic Information Systems for those of you in Rio Linda). To sooth Michaell, I promise to pray for Dean more than normal tonight. A mind is a terrible thing to waste…)…;)

    Dean, You never did graduate to high school debate class, did you? 🙂

  6. Check out:


    He nails how this issue is not about science:

    Global warming is what William James called a “moral equivalent of war” that gives political officials the power to do things they could never do without a crisis. As liberal journalist James Ridgeway wrote in the early 1970s: “Ecology offered liberal-minded people what they had longed for, a safe, rational and above all peaceful way of remaking society … (and) developing a more coherent central state.”

    This explains Gore’s relentless talk of “consensus,” his ugly moral bullying of “deniers” and, most of all, his insistence that because there’s no time left to argue, everyone should do what he says.

    Isn’t it interesting how the same people who think “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” when it comes to the war think that dissent when it comes to global warming is evil and troglodytic?

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