Does a ‘Great Disappointment’ Await The Climate Zealots?

In 1856, a 15 year-old child prophet called Nongqawuse is said to have heard voices telling the Xhosa tribe in southern Africa that it must kill all the cattle, stop cultivating the fields and destroy all supplies of food. In addition, people should destroy all their farming implements and cooking pots to help, it was said, ward off the threat of British colonialists. The junior soothsayer forecast that a magic day would dawn and everything necessary for life would arise from the earth. Of course, it didn’t.

By the end of 1858 the Xhosa population had dropped from 105,000 to just 26,000, with up to 50,000 deaths from starvation. The tribal culture was destroyed and the colonialists picked up the pieces.

Come amongst us today is a child prophet from the North who tells us that our house is on fire and we must remove the most efficient, reliable fuel we have, and harness our power from the wind and the sun. The child prophet Greta Thunberg claims superpowers, while her mother says she can see the demon carbon dioxide gas – invisible, of course, to the rest of us. National treasure and revered voiceover artist Sir David Attenborough produces mass entertainment programmes featuring images of fire, storm and desolation and tells us that too many people live on the planet and we have only a few years to mend our ways.

BBC broadcaster Jeremy Vine tweeted that the 2019 meeting between the Doom Goblin and the old Malthusian was “surely the radio moment of the last decade”.  Others might conclude that the impressive salary that Mr. Vine receives from the BBC echo chamber is a tad on the generous side.

Meanwhile George Monbiot, Guardian writer and activist, has been warning of Armageddon for decades. Every year the language gets ratcheted up and he recently warned: “We are reaching a systems tipping point – and the collapse of our liveable planet.” According to Monbiot, the “extreme” weather in 2021 – the heat domes, droughts, fires, floods and cyclones – are “frankly terrifying”. Only, it might be noted, if you ignore the meteorological records that show little recent variation in such events.

Monbiot also suggests that “current policies commit us to a calamitous 2.9°C of global heating”. Here he repeats the scare stories cooked up by climate models that have never produced an accurate forecast. For “calamitous”, read “pessimistically modelled”. More realistically, the small rise in global temperature ran out of steam almost two decades ago and has been plateauing for years. But Monbiot’s warnings become more biblical by the day. He recently wrote in the the Ecologist that if Earth’s systems crossed critical thresholds, humans would be reduced to stratigraphy – laid out, he suggests, in layers of rock.

Are we reaching peak climate hysteria after 40 years of relentless green campaigning? Certainly the pushback against Net Zero, which recent figures suggest could cost each U.K. household over £100,000, is becoming obvious. The war in Ukraine has shot energy security to the top of the news agenda. The decadent assumption by governing elites across Europe that they could build intermittent windmills and get other, less-than-friendly regimes to supply the vital back-up power, is dead in the water.

All the evidence suggests that the citizens supporting Net Zero had not thought they would have to pay much for it, or alter their own lifestyles. Only perhaps to be expected, since serial doomsday forecaster Prince Charles leads the way on virtue, but has shown no sign of giving up his own four magnificent residences. The current attitude is perhaps best summed up by the usually reliable Daily Telegraph writer Madeline Grant, who recently managed to refer to Net Zero as a “fantasy” and a “worthy ambition” in the course of the same paragraph. Nigel Farage, meanwhile, sniffs another referendum coming along.

It is more than likely that a growing number of people will start to laugh at the failed predictions, the shonky models that are always wrong, the ‘settled’ science notion that insults the intelligence, the constant virtue signalling from those with palaces and private planes, and the ignorant demonising of routine bad weather.

A new ‘Great Disappointment’ could be on the cards.

On April 18th 1844, Jesus Christ, along with the Saints in Heaven, failed to appear to cleanse and purify the Earth. The event had been predicted by the Baptist preacher William Miller, who had built up an enormous following across New England. A subsequent date also led to a JC no-show, following which the movement not surprisingly declined. But among Miller’s large number of followers, many of whom had donned white robes to prepare for their Ascension into the next world, there was recrimination. Shattered expectations led to what was termed the ‘Great Disappointment’.

In 1957, a group of psychologists led by Leon Festinger published an influential paper, “When Prophecy Fails“. This examined a small UFO religion in Chicago called the Seekers that believed in imminent apocalypse. Looking at other examples from the past, including the Millerites, they found that a failed prophecy actually led many believers to increase their commitment to the cause and attempt to recruit others into their belief system. In this way the pain of disconfirmation was lessened. “If more and more people can be persuaded that the system of belief is correct, then clearly it must after all be correct,” they wrote.

In the recent past, no matter what climate change scares were debunked, the movement went from strength to strength. In addition, the green cash running through subsidised technologies, countless public bodies including academia and well-funded activist groups is huge. Politicians like Boris Johnson have changed their mind once in the face of the relentless green propaganda onslaught; they are unlikely to want to do so again in the near future. The American novelist Upton Sinclair once wrote that it is “difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it”.

Maybe hold that disappointment for a little while longer.

Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor

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June 2022
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