Forget Science – Climate Now Has a Central Role in The Culture Wars

One of my first tasks as a journalist in the late 1970s was to compile a “Major losses and catastrophes” page for a monthly reinsurance magazine. Sources were much scarcer in those days, but the back pages of the daily Lloyd’s List would supply various reports from shipping agents and news agencies. Every month there would be stories of large weather-related disasters including wildfires sweeping Australia, monsoons failing in Asia, droughts continuing in California, hundreds of people dying on a Philippines ferry caught in rough seas. At the time, I was intrigued at how little of this made the headlines in the U.K. Go forward a few years and we have global catastrophes, morning, noon and night. Bad weather has been politicised to spread widespread fear and anxiety as established elites pursue their subsidy-driven, command-and-control Net Zero political project.

Journalist Helen O’Callaghan put it succinctly in the Irish Examiner recently: “Whether it’s watching a David Attenborough interview, or seeing fires raging in California, becoming aware of the climate emergency is leading to anxiety and distress.”

The medical journal the Lancet published a paper in 2020 stating that ecological grief and anxiety were reasonable and functional responses to climate-related losses, and, needless to say, an “urgent response is needed from clinicians, public health practitioners and policy makers”. The American Psychological Association goes on to note that climate change mental health disorders include “trauma and shock, PTSD, anxiety and depression that can lead to suicidal ideation and risky behaviour”. Community-wide impacts are said to include interpersonal violence, including domestic and child abuse.

Of course, it can be argued that switching off the BBC, cancelling the Guardian and ditching the climate change degree for something useful will provide an almost instant cure. Mainstream media have become obsessed with rebranding bad weather as extreme, and attributing almost every event to humans burning fossil fuel. Of course the claims are easily debunked and don’t contain a scintilla of scientific proof to back them up. In many ways, Earth is in a benign climate phase, with recent gentle warming and higher CO2 levels leading to record levels of food production. In such conditions, humans across the world stand a better chance of living longer, and having a better quality of life.

As the Daily Sceptic has reported, bad weather is doing the brunt of the propaganda lifting these days. Global warming ran out of steam about two decades ago, although the phrase is still a constant incantation. Statistics are cherry picked and temperature databases are remodelled to supply extra heating. The best is made out of an increasingly poor hand, none more so than last month at DWD, the German national weather centre. In a press release, April 2022 was described as “somewhat too warm”. For this the DWD went back to the archives and said April was 0.4°C warmer than the mean for 1960-90. For the more relevant 1991-2020 period, however, there was said to be a 1.2°C “deviation”, this being green activist-speak for colder.

If all this nonsense scares you, the Huffington Post suggests deep breaths to calm an “over-revved” fight or flight nervous system. “Keep a rock, dried flower, twig or other natural object around that you can look at and touch when you’re feeling overwhelmed.” suggests Holly Schiff, a licensed clinical Connecticut-based psychologist. “This acts as a grounding technique.”

Over in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, the Good Grief Network is offering courses that are said to bring people together to metabolise collective grief and eco-anxiety. It was surely only time before we learnt that “grief and despair live at each intersection of the planetary crises and systemic injustices being perpetuated by the dominant culture”. GGN offers help to dismantle these destructive and oppressive systems, “by examining our privilege and decolonising our hearts, minds and habits”.

It might be simplistic to think that if you debunk patently silly extreme weather claims, the entire fear agenda will go away. Think again. Climate change is now firmly embedded in the culture wars surrounding race, identity and gender. Anything to do with science was ‘settled’ a long time ago. Deniers will be abused, but not debated. In 1999 the frequent BBC speaker Professor Mark Maslin of UCL was happy to write that large climate changes occurred over a period of “perhaps even a few years”. By 2014, he wrote an article, “Why I’ll talk politics with climate change deniers – but not science”. In 2020, he suggested the origins of racism and the climate emergency “share common causes”.

In the wake of the BLM riots in the U.S., a group of Columbia University Earth Sciences graduate students developed a seminar on “Race, Climate Change, and Environmental Justice”. The University wrote about the move under the heading: “Academics and Activism: Where Global Warming and Racism Meet”.  In the U.K., the University of Winchester has an Institute for Climate and Social Justice. Sex, gender, race and socio-economic inequality and discrimination cut through many environmental issues confronting our planet, whether it is air pollution in London or drought in sub-Saharan Africa, explains the University. BBC Future recently ran an article titled: “Why climate change is inherently racist.”

Who we might ask is driving all this confected, culture war claptrap? It’s certainly helped by the vast sums being pumped into American universities by green investors, armed with their newly-minted fortunes. Earlier this month, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist John Doerr donated $1.1 billion to a new school at Stanford University devoted to the study of climate change and its solutions. The climate writer Jo Nova noted that these were not funds to understand the climate. She went on to write that the people who work for him know exactly what he wants them to find. He’s a long term ‘clean tech’ investor. She poses the question: “What happens, if theoretically, one of his researchers (or even someone else at Stanford) discovers the Sun drives climate change?”

As Basil Fawlty might have said: “Don’t mention the Sun. I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it.”

Chris Morrison is the Daily Sceptic’s Environment Editor.

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