Got a problem? Blame global warming!
This post from 2006 is worth a re-read.
Thursday 2 November 2006
From allergies to maple syrup shortages to yellow fever: apparently every contemporary ill is caused by climate change.
‘It’s all them atom bombs what’s doing it.’ That is what the old dears used to say in the event of unusual weather when I was growing up in the back streets of Tottenham in north London. There is something deep in the human psyche that requires a cause to be identified for every effect. Presumably this has an evolutionary advantage: man the toolmaker was able to turn abstract concepts, such as consequence and purpose, to his benefit.
Mind you, even in those far off innocent days they did not fly into a panic, as now, over a mild October. They just enjoyed it. They even had a term for it – Indian Summer. What a fine example of ratchet reporting we have seen in recent weeks, with almost every British newspaper showing horror pictures of… late flowering gardens. Yet they studiously ignored the fact that this has been the year without a spring, when the tree blossom was a month late (see these pictures from my website, Numberwatch, as illustration).
That instinct has been a gift for the shamans of each age, ours no less than those that went before. Now carbon, the very stuff of life, has been cast in the role of original sin and its dioxide, absolutely essential to the existence of life on earth, condemned as a pollutant. Just as deviation from the strictures of the gods resulted in calamities such as floods and earthquakes in the past, so our new godless religion decrees that every disaster and minor discomfort arises from our engagement in industry, progress and the pursuit of well-being.
When I began to compile the complete list of things caused by global warming (see below), I was only too aware of the facile dismissal that was casually levelled at my complete list of things that give you cancer: ‘He made it all up!’ So, I only included things for which I could provide a link. That list of over three hundred items is still growing daily, thanks to the efforts of number watchers around the world, and contains some remarkable and delightfully contradictory examples. A new raft of entries has now come in from the Stern Report. These include notably an increase in gender inequalities with men migrating and women subject to impoverishment, forced marriage, labour exploitation, trafficking and natural disasters. You could not make that up – it is beyond satire.
What is not a cause for jocularity is the evidence that all this provides for putrefaction in the groves of academe: for most of these excesses emanate from university departments, and are by people rejoicing in the debased title of professor. Not only does it illustrate the pathetic race to grovel before the priesthood of political correctness, who have seized control of research funding all over the world, it also reveals a loss of that sense of proportion that was once the backbone of experimental science.
The telling phrase ‘lost in the noise’ has simply got lost in the noise. Only a quarter of a century ago, if anyone had claimed that a temperature change of 0.6 degrees Celsius would cause such a drastic change in precipitation that it would in turn trigger earthquakes, it would have been met with universal howls of derision. Now it is just par for the course and any derision would be censored by editors of newspapers and even, heaven help us, scientific journals.
What is it about humanity that provokes this addiction to scaremongering? In the seventies, when the scare was global cooling, there was still a residue of that scepticism that was the legacy of British philosophers. From the Bacons, through the likes of Locke, Hume and Russell, to the magnificent climax of Popper’s statement of the principle of falsifiability, the scientific method was painfully established, only to be abandoned in a few short decades. The method was essentially sceptical, as Thomas Huxley put it:
The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin.
All gone, alas!
John Brignell is author of Numberwatch.
A complete list of things caused by global warming:
(Each list item is linked to a news story. However, this list has been compiled over a period of time, so some links may no longer work.)
Agricultural land increase, Africa devastated, African aid threatened, air pressure changes, Alaska reshaped, , Alps melting, Amazon a desert, American dream end, amphibians breeding earlier (or not), ancient forests dramatically changed, Antarctic grass flourishes, anxiety, algal blooms, Arctic bogs melt, Asthma, atmospheric defiance, atmospheric circulation modified, avalanches reduced, avalanches increased, bananas destroyed, bananas grow, bet for $10,000, big melt faster, billion dollar research projects, billions of deaths, bird distributions change, birds return early, blackbirds stop singing, blizzards, blue mussels return, boredom, Britain Siberian, British gardens change, bubonic plague, budget increases, building season extension, bushfires, business opportunities, business risks, butterflies move north, cardiac arrest, caterpillar biomass shift, challenges and opportunities, Cholera, civil unrest, cloud increase, cloud stripping, cod go south, cold climate creatures survive, cold spells (Australia), computer models, conferences, coral bleaching, coral reefs dying, coral reefs grow, coral reefs shrink , cold spells, cost of trillions, crumbling roads, buildings and sewage systems, cyclones (Australia), damages equivalent to $200 billion, Dengue hemorrhagic fever, dermatitis, , desert life threatened, desert retreat, destruction of the environment, diarrhoea, disappearance of coastal cities, diseases move north, Dolomites collapse, drought, drowning people, ducks and geese decline, , early spring, earlier pollen season, Earth biodiversity crisis, Earth dying, Earth even hotter, Earth light dimming, Earth lopsided, Earth melting, Earth morbid fever, Earth on fast track, Earth past point of no return, Earth slowing down, Earth spinning out of control, Earth to explode, earth upside down, Earth wobbling, earthquakes, El Niño intensification, erosion, emerging infections, encephalitis, Europe simultaneously baking and freezing, evolution accelerating, expansion of university climate groups, extinctions (human, civilisation, logic, Inuit, smallest butterfly, cod, ladybirds, bats, pandas, pikas, polar bears, pigmy possums, gorillas, koalas, walrus, whales, frogs, toads, turtles, orang-utan, elephants, tigers, plants, salmon, trout, wild flowers, woodlice, penguins, a million species, half of all animal and plant species, less, not polar bears), experts muzzled, extreme changes to California, famine, farmers go under, figurehead sacked, fish catches drop, fish catches rise, fish stocks decline, five million illnesses, floods, Florida economic decline, food poisoning, food prices rise, food security threat (SA), footpath erosion, forest decline, forest expansion, frosts, fungi invasion, Garden of Eden wilts, genetic diversity decline, gene pools slashed, glacial retreat, glacial growth, glacier wrapped, global cooling, global dimming, glowing clouds, Gore omnipresence, grandstanding, grasslands wetter, Great Barrier Reef 95% dead, Great Lakes drop, greening of the North, Gulf Stream failure, habitat loss, Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, harvest increase, harvest shrinkage, hay fever epidemic, hazardous waste sites breached, heat waves, hibernation ends too soon, hibernation ends too late, high court debates, human fertility reduced, human health improvement, human health risk, hurricanes, hydropower problems, hyperthermia deaths, ice sheet growth, ice sheet shrinkage, inclement weather, infrastructure failure (Canada), Inuit displacement, Inuit poisoned, Inuit suing, industry threatened, infectious diseases, insurance premium rises, invasion of midges, island disappears, islands sinking, itchier poison ivy, jellyfish explosion, Kew Gardens taxed, krill decline, lake and stream productivity decline, landslides, landslides of ice at 140 mph, lawsuits increase, lawsuit successful, lawyers’ income increased (surprise, surprise!), lightning related insurance claims, little response in the atmosphere, Lyme disease, Malaria, malnutrition, Maple syrup shortage, marine diseases, marine food chain decimated, marine dead zone, Meaching (end of the world), megacryometeors, Melanoma, methane emissions from plants, methane burps, melting permafrost, Middle Kingdom convulses, migration, migration difficult (birds), microbes to decompose soil carbon more rapidly, more bad air days, more research needed, mountain (Everest) shrinking, mountains break up, mountains taller, mudslides, next ice age, Nile delta damaged, no effect in India, nuclear plants bloom, oaks move north, ocean acidification, outdoor hockey threatened, oyster diseases, ozone loss, ozone repair slowed, ozone rise, Pacific dead zone, personal carbon rationing, pest outbreaks, pests increase, phenology shifts, plankton blooms, plankton destabilised, plankton loss, plant viruses, plants march north, polar bears aggressive, polar bears cannibalistic, polar bears drowning, polar bears starve, polar tours scrapped, psychosocial disturbances, railroad tracks deformed, rainfall increase, rainfall reduction, refugees, reindeer larger, release of ancient frozen viruses, resorts disappear, rice yields crash, rift on Capitol Hill, rioting and nuclear war, rivers raised, rivers dry up, rockfalls, rocky peaks crack apart, roof of the world a desert, Ross river disease, salinity reduction, salinity increase, Salmonella, salmon stronger, sea level rise, sea level rise faster, sex change, sharks booming, shrinking ponds, ski resorts threatened, slow death, smog, snowfall increase, snowfall reduction, societal collapse, , sour grapes, spiders invade Scotland, squid population explosion, squirrels reproduce earlier, spectacular orchids, stormwater drains stressed, taxes, tectonic plate movement, terrorism, ticks move northward (Sweden), tides rise, tourism increase, trade winds weakened, tree beetle attacks, tree foliage increase (UK), tree growth slowed, trees could return to Antarctic, trees less colourful, trees more colourful, tropics expansion, tropopause raised, tsunamis, turtles lay earlier, UK Katrina, Venice flooded, volcanic eruptions, walrus pups orphaned, war, wars over water, water bills double, water supply unreliability, water scarcity (20% of increase), water stress, weather out of its mind, weather patterns awry, weeds, Western aid cancelled out, West Nile fever, whales move north, wheat yields crushed in Australia, white Christmas dream ends, wildfires, wind shift, wind reduced, wine – harm to Australian industry, wine industry damage (California), wine industry disaster (US), wine – more English, wine -German boon, wine – no more French , winters in Britain colder, wolves eat more moose, wolves eat less, workers laid off, World bankruptcy, World in crisis, Yellow fever