In the last few days article articles have been appearing all over the place that tell us (again) how dreadful the world will be in the future as a result of ‘climate change’. As usual, there is the coincidence of a climate summit in a few days’ time, and a preceding March On or For Climate two days before. At the same time, another month has passed without any change in the absence of significant warming, and finally, at last, there has been a decently civilised and sensible debate in which the forces of the orthodoxy, in the person of Gavin Schmidt, the head of Goddard Institute for Space Science, are arrayed against the best-known and most-respected  dissident, Professor Judith Curry. I’ll say more about that in the next essay, but I mention it here only to make the point that the orthodoxy has realised that it can’t just go on maintaining a dignified and authoritative silence when the observational data so clearly fail to support its nostrums.

Someone called these scary stories ‘climate porn’ in 2007, quite a few years ago, and I like the term: its purpose is to attract, and to influence behaviour. For the most part I find climate porn intellectually vacuous. This essay is based in part on one by Bob Tisdale in a recent WUWT, and you can follow the references there. The original writer in 2007 went on to say that climate porn has been described as unreliable at best and counter-productive at worst. And I would agree. Despite all the scary stuff, as I wrote somewhere recently, ‘climate change’ ranks pretty low in people’s ranking of important issues.

Are the scary stories counterproductive? Some scholars think so, and two of them went on to say this: The difficulty with it [alarmism] is that the scale of the problem as it is shown excludes the possibility of real action or agency by the reader or viewer. It contains an implicit counsel of despair – ‘the problem is just too big for us to take on’. Its sensationalism and connection with the unreality of Hollywood films also distances people from the issue. In this awesome form, alarmism might even become secretly thrilling – effectively a form of ‘climate porn’. It also positions climate change as yet another apocalyptic construction that is perhaps a figment of our cultural imaginations, further undermining its ability to help bring about action.

I think there is a lot in this. What we can do about the catastrophe to come? The notion that we should cut our greenhouse emissions whether or not anyone else does so can hardly have struck a universal  chord in Australian society. Nonetheless, since global warming and climate change have become official doctrine, most people will simply shut up about it. And the more scary the stories become, and the more Nature refuses to co-operate, the more people will just shrug and get on with their lives.

One of the very recent examples of climate porn  has come, of all places, from the World Meteorological Organization, issued to help the UN Secretary-General in his quest to rally the faithful to the coming Climate Summit. The introduction goes like this: If humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase, the average temperature of the Earth’s lower atmosphere could rise more than 4°C (7.2°F) by the end of the 21st century. But what does a global average temperature rise really mean? How would we experience it on a daily basis?

To find out what could lie in store, the WMO invited television weather presenters from around the world to imagine a “weather report from the year 2050.” What they created are only possible scenarios, of course, and not true forecasts. Nevertheless, they are based on the most up-to-date climate science, and they paint a compelling picture of what life could be like on a warmer planet.

These worst-case futures do not need to happen. WMO is launching these videos during the month of September to support the UN Secretary-General’s call for world leaders from government, finance, business, and civil society to support ambitious action on climate change at the UN Climate Summit on 23 September.

Why is the WMO doing this? The reason is plain. The leaders of China, India and Germany will not be attending the meeting. The rest of us all need to be scared stiff. Note the weasel words:  if emissions continue to increase, temperature could rise; these are only scenarios — and then a sentence that really grates on me: Nevertheless, they are based on the most up-to-date climate science, and they paint a compelling picture of what life could be like on a warmer planet.

For heaven’s sake! A compelling picture! There has been no discernible warming for nearly 18 years, and if anything the recent trend is a cooling one. Why should we imagine any such things, which are not, and couldn’t possibly be, ‘based on the most up-to-date climate science’. They are based on a series of assumptions, and rely on the output of models that have spectacularly failed even to predict the present lack of warming. How in blazes are we to get to very high temperatures in 2050, only 36 years away, with no sign that the warming is about to return?

I’ve watched the 2050 weather  forecast videos for Japan and Denmark, and they are scary (there are lots of scary weather visuals anyone can use), and each finishes with a lecture by Ban Ki-Moon himself.

I don’t know how many watchers there will be, or how convinced they will be. Why, oh why, is the WMO putting forward this dreadful stuff? Science it absolutely isn’t.

Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • David says:

    Don,

    You are very selective as to when you choose to channel the “most-respected
    dissident, Professor Judith Curry.” Her published analysis is at odds
    with your measurement error shtick, but you ignore that.

  • John Morland says:

    Surprise, surprise I have not read anything about this in the Canberra Times. Normally this kind of news would be promenently shown in ‘World’ part of the paper.

    Why is the WMO pushing this stuff – maybe fear of increasing irrelevance as the pause keeps up; its (nearly) last stand! I have heard the pause could go for at least another decade and if so, I am sure this will not satisfy the CAGWers. They are desperate for a lever to hold on, or a lens to focus, their doomsday scenarios, gain some relevance and tear down industry or even the western economy. It is part of the ongoing “Club of Rome” saga.

    As to the disciples, I know how difficult it is to handle to finally let the “penny drop” and realise the alarmist position is poppycock and admit you were wrong or misled – I have experienced it; it’s hard. It is second to giving up smoking (which I have also experienced).

    So no, even with the continuing pause I can understand the CAGW’s increasing frustration and I realise how hard (impossible to some) to let go the faith in their alarmism, models and scenarios.

  • BoyfromTottenham says:

    Hi Don,

    No, its not science – as I have said many times in various AGW skeptic fora, it is plain, unvarnished Disinformation (or Dezinformatsia in the original Russian). Or more simply political manipulation, exactly as used by the KGB in the cold war to influence the gullibles around the world to think that the Soviet regime was benign, if not downright superior to Western capitalism. They carried out this strategy globally using hundreds of front organisations, such as the World Federation of Democratic Youth, the World Federation of Scientific Workers, the World Federation of Trade Unions, the Women’s International Democratic Federation, the International Union of Students, the International Organisation of Journalists, and of course the World Peace Council, to name but a few. They often paid members and fellow-travellers of these organisations to visit the USSR and its satellites under the cover of “study tours”. There is plenty of evidence that quite a few Australian academics, left wing politicians and trade unionists took advantage of these study tours right up until the breakdown of the USSR. It is also well known that many gullibles were recruited by the KGB by the simple use of the question “would you like to help work for world peace?”, where “world peace” actually meant “global Communism”, but of course the gullibles didn’t find out the truth until they were well and truly entrapped. Not much of a step from there to joining the Greens to “help save the world”, eh?

    • PeterE says:

      This is ‘spot-on’. Indeed, it is the pervasive presence of what is nothing less than ‘climate agitprop’ that makes me a sceptic. Lord Monckton was very good on this very subject today on the radio.

    • dlb says:

      Boy from T, this sort of view, and “Monckton’s world government” carries about the same weight with me as the often quoted “climate sceptics are in the pay of big oil”. Yes, there probably are a few hard line communists that have jumped ship to the Greens and no doubt a few sceptics that are hard nosed capitalists but I highly doubt it is the case for the majority. Sorry but the view you espouse is simplistic and an insult to any thinking sceptic.

      • BotfromTottenham says:

        dlb – I think you missed my point – that the alarmist articles that Don was referring to were not intended to be read as “science’, they were simply (sophisticated) propaganda aka disinformation (look it up!). So criticising the “scientific basis” of them is pointless – the “science” is just a prop for their argument. A second point was that this use of disinformation is the same tactic that the KGB used quite effectively (look this up too) in the Cold War. BTW I didn’t mention Monkton or “world government” – is this just a diversionary tactic on your part?

  • […] has been the generation of even shriller accounts of the doom that awaits us, as I pointed out in my last post. As interest in the whole issue wanes the orthodox feel the need to scream even more loudly, which […]

  • DaveW says:

    Hi Don,
    My understanding of Big Lie Theory is the bigger the lie the better and constant repetition is required, so I’m not sure why you are surprised? Climate Doomsday has been a pretty constant refrain from all the usual suspects for the last few decades. It works to keep the faithful in line, to maintain suspension of disbelief in any of them who actually are capable of critical thought, and to attract new converts who need something/someone to hate.
    The ‘climate porn’ aspect is probably designed to facilitate free regurgitation by the MSM. I imagine all involved thought they did a splendid job and I think we should just be thankful that those who want to be our lords and masters aren’t very bright. The Higgs Boson Doomsday has been getting some press recently. I eagerly await the first piece suggesting AGW could trigger it.
    Cheers

  • dlb says:

    For another example of Climate Porn listen to the segment on the ABC’s Science Show on Aug 16 titled “The Collapse of Western Civilization” . Here we have the host Robyn Williams giving a “love in ” interview with well known alarmist Naomi Oreskes on her latest book, which is the title of the interview. Oreskes bases her book on what life would be like if the high range of the IPCC temperature predictions are reached in 30 years time. Both she and Williams appear to believe it is a distinct probability the way we are going. In her book she goes on about all the calamity that will ensue with the collapse of the west Antarctic ice sheet. To bring things home to the average person apparently she describes how our pets will die in the coming maelstrom of water and weather.

    I don’t know how Williams can get away with such interviews, perhaps “books and writing” would be a better outlet for such fiction, science it is not.

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