Six headlines from 2009 telling us important news about 2015’s climate

Summary: This is the first in a new regular feature on the FM website showing the best of the propaganda headlines that fill our news. Today we have six headlines telling an important story about us and climate change. Post your thoughts about these in the comments. Get your favorite headlines posted (past or present, mocking Left or Right) by emailing them to PropagandaHeadline at G mail dot com (anti-spam spelling). Enjoy!  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

When we again see the world clearly, we can start the reform of America.

Clear vision

Six years ago began a new chapter in one of the most incompetently run campaigns ever, the preparation for the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference in December 2009. The following snippets show one theme from that massive bombardment of stories intended to arouse people’s fear and so create a stampede for far-reaching public policy measures to save the world. These headlines warned that the end was near and time was running out.

(1) President ‘has four years to save Earth’” says climate scientist James Hansen in The Guardian, 17 January 2009.

(2) Global warming has reached a ‘defining moment,’ Prince Charles warns” in The Telegraph, 12 March 2009. “The world has “less than 100 months” to save the planet.

(3) ‘We have hours’ to prevent climate disaster” by Elizabeth May (Member of Parliament and leader of Canada’s Green Party) in The Star (Toronto), 24 March 2009. This was run as news, not an op-ed.

Tribal Truth

(4) Just 96 months to save world, says Prince Charles” in The Independent. 9 July 2009. “If the world failed to heed his warnings then we all faced the ‘nightmare that for so many of us now looms on the horizon’.”

(5) Five years to save world from climate change, says WWF“, Australian Broadcasting Company, 18 October 2009 — Excerpt…

“Karl Mallon, a scientist with Climate Risk and one of the key authors of the report, says 2014 has been calculated as the point at which there is no longer enough time to develop the industries that can deliver a low carbon economy. ‘The point of no return,’ he said.

“‘If we wait until past 2014 or that’s what modelling shows, then simply put, it will be impossible for industries to grow to the scale that has to be achieved in the time that is available.'”

(6) Gordon Brown said negotiators had 50 days to save the world from global warming and break the “impasse”.“, BBC, 19 October 2009. Brown was the UK PM.

The result

It was a fantastic success — for the attendees, most of whom enjoyed an expense-account funded vacation with their peers in picturesque Copenhagen. Here’s the word salad they produced. Three journalists at the Guardian evaluated the Conference in terms of its accomplishments: Low targets, goals dropped: Copenhagen ends in failure.

Typical results from one of the most incompetently conducted campaigns ever.

Lessons learned

Flash forward to now

Six years later we’re still in the pause — the hiatus or slowing of the atmosphere’s warming (see papers about its causes) — with most forms of extreme weather at normal levels (details here, more here).

Doubling down on proven failed tactics, climate activists have began a fear bombardment to produce a stampede of panicked people into November’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (Paris! No global climate conferences in Chicago or Birmingham, where events are cheaper). Each week brings new papers confidently predicting that climate change will produce new horrors (odd that it produces not one good thing).

As the cherry on the news we get “His Royal Highness {Prince Charles} warns that we have just 35 years to save the planet from catastrophic climate change.” in the Western Morning News, 18 July 2015.” Nice of Charles to grant us a reprieve from his original June 2017 deadline.


A parallel on the right to this campaign is the series of confident predictions since 1984 that Iran will have nukes in a few years. The common element of info ops by Left and Right: activists understand us. They know we care only for tribal truths, that we seldom learn from experience, and care not that our leaders lie to us.

When we change so that these things are true no longer then we will have begun to regain control of America. For more about this, see these posts about Reforming America: steps to new politics.

Truth in science
Graphic designed by IdeaTree Company.

For More Information

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To help you better understand today’s extreme weather

To learn more about the state of climate change see The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change by Roger Pielke Jr. (Prof of Environmental Studies at U of CO-Boulder, and Director of their Center for Science and Technology Policy Research).

The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change

6 thoughts on “Six headlines from 2009 telling us important news about 2015’s climate”

  1. Fabius Maximus,

    It’s interesting to note that the most successful campaign to change public opinion in the past twenty years followed the opposite track. Gay marriage was adopted in this country largely due to the steady attempt to convince their opponents that gay marriage wasn’t going to end in doom but was really no big deal.

    Seems as though fear is a great motivator for those who already believe to hold tightly to those convictions, not so much a way to convince others to change.

    I think climate change and military reformers might be better able to emulate that past successful movement by adopting a tacit that cut to the heart of concerns about adoption.
    For example, we can make better jobs and enjoy better lives with a position that is friendly to global warming as opposed to, do it or die! Or the jobs lost will be replaced and we can make it work without you feeling massive disruption in your life.
    Military reformers might look to te lost jobs and a steady drumbeat of “no you won’t die because of this change in spending, you’ll actually be safer!”

    Dangerous to dry a trend from a single source, but probably worth further study.

    PF Khans

  2. As one if the authors mentioned , I stand be the original finding. Because of the failure to reach agreements and ramp up decarbonisation the prospects of avoiding 2 degrees have moved much farther from reach and may now no longer be achievable. The current surge in policy and private sector investment may be a mitigatong factor to make targets possible but the transition will be much more costly.

    The assertion that nothing has changed in extreme weather is rubbish – try getting flood insurance for a mine in australia and you should avoid believing your own hype, perhaps a large glass of cold water in California would do you good – if you can find one.

    1. Karl,

      You didn’t get a PhD in Mechanical Engineering by such sloppy reasoning and writing. Your comment is unworthy of someone with your background, and does not reflect well on Climate Risk.

      (1) “As one if the authors mentioned, I stand be the original finding.”

      This post refers to the newspaper stories, and more specifically the headlines — which have the greatest impact on public opinion. It’s an evaluation of propaganda, and does not evaluate your study.

      (2) “the prospects of avoiding 2° have moved much farther from reach and may now no longer be achievable.”

      These stories speak of saving the world. Nothing shows that one additional degree of warming will end the world, or civilization, or anything. There is zero evidence that 2° is a red line, or more than an arbitrary marker.

      (3) “The current surge in policy and private sector investment may be a mitigatong factor to make targets possible but the transition will be much more costly.”

      So the end of the world is not inevitable, as the headlines stated? Good to know.

      (4) “The assertion that nothing has changed in extreme weather is rubbish”

      Misquoting me is misconduct. I said “with most forms of extreme weather at normal levels (details here, more here).”

      (5) “try getting flood insurance for a mine in australia”

      I’m pleased that insurance companies have raised rates, but its quite daft to consider that evidence of climate change. Good marketing (hyping the threat), a change in the supply and demand for insurance, regulatory changes — there are many factors at work. Please cite peer-reviewed research showing that the rate or magnitude of flooding has increased.

      (6) “a large glass of cold water in California would do you good – if you can find one.”

      First, I am sitting in California right now. There is no shortage of drinking water here. Second, your implied assertion that the California drought is not normal (historically speaking) is unsupported by the peer-reviewed literature. As in these (emphasis added) …

      (a) Long-Term Aridity Changes in the Western United States“, Edward R. Cook et al, Science, 5 November 2004 — A mildly stated conclusion:

      If the Z-C modeling results hold up, it is plausible that continued warming over the tropical Pacific, whether natural or anthropogenically forced, will promote the development of persistent drought-inducing La Nina–like conditions. Should this situation occur, especially in tandem with midcontinental drying over North America, the epoch of unprecedented aridity revealed in the DAI reconstruction might truly be a harbinger of things to come in the West.

      (b) North American drought: Reconstructions, causes, and consequences“, Edward R. Cook et al, Earth-Science Reviews, March 2007 — In this later paper, Cook et al give us the long-suspected bitter news. Excerpt from their conclusions:

      These reconstructions, many of which cover the past 1000 years, have revealed the occurrence of a number of unprecedented megadroughts over the past millennium that clearly exceed any found in the instrumental records since about AD 1850, including an epoch of significantly elevated aridity that persisted for almost 400 years over the AD 900-1300 period. In terms of duration, these past megadroughts dwarf the famous droughts of the 20th century, such as the Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s, the southern Great Plains drought of the 1950s, and the current one in the West that began in 1999 and still lingers on as of this writing in 2005.

      (c) Recent California Water Year Precipitation Deficits: A 440-year Perspective“, Henry F. Diaz and Eugene R. Wahl, Journal of Climate, June 2015 — Abstract:

      An analysis of the October 2013–September 2014 precipitation in the western United States and in particular over the California-Nevada region suggests this anomalously dry season, while extreme, is not unprecedented in comparison with the ~120-year long instrumental record of water year (WY: October–September) totals, and in comparison with a 407-year WY precipitation reconstruction back to 1571. Over this longer period nine other years are known or estimated to have been nearly as dry or drier than WY 2014.

      The 3-year deficit for WY’s 2012–2014, which in the California-Nevada region exceeded the annual mean precipitation, is more extreme but also not unprecedented, occurring three other times over the past ~ 440 years in the reconstruction. WY precipitation has also been deficient on average for the past 14 years, and such a run of predominantly dry WY’s is also a rare occurrence in our merged reconstructed plus instrumental period record.

      (d) A report from NOAA: “Causes and predictability of the 2011 – 2014 California Drought“, December 2014. Excerpt:

      The current drought is not part of a long-term change in California precipitation, which exhibits no appreciable trend since 1895. Key oceanic features that caused precipitation inhibiting atmospheric ridging off the West Coast during 2011-14 were symptomatic of natural internal atmosphere-ocean variability.

      Model simulations indicate that human-induced climate change increases California precipitation in mid-winter, with a low-pressure circulation anomaly over the North Pacific, opposite to conditions of the last 3 winters. The same model simulations indicate a decrease in spring precipitation over California. However, precipitation deficits observed during the past three years are an order of magnitude greater than the model simulated changes related to human-induced forcing. Nonetheless, record setting high temperature that accompanied this recent drought was likely made more extreme due to human-induced global warming.

      (e)Causes of the 2011 to 2014 California drought“, Richard Seager et al, Journal of Climate, in press — Ungated version. Abstract (emphasis added):

      The causes of the California drought during November to April winters of 2011/12 to 2013/14 are analyzed using observations and ensemble simulations with seven atmosphere models forced by observed SSTs. Historically, dry California winters are most commonly associated with a ridge off the west coast but no obvious SST forcing. Wet winters are most commonly associated with a trough off the west coast and an El Niño event.

      These attributes of dry and wet winters are captured by many of the 7 models. According to the models, SST forcing can explain up to a third of California winter precipitation variance. SST-forcing was key to sustaining a high pressure ridge over the west coast and suppressing precipitation during the three winters. In 2011/12 this was a response to a La Niña event whereas in 2012/13 and 2013/14 it appears related to a warm west, cool east tropical Pacific SST pattern. All models contain a mode of variability linking such tropical Pacific SST anomalies to a wave train with a ridge off the North American west coast. This mode explains less variance than ENSO and Pacific decadal variability and its importance in 2012/13 and 2013/14 was unusual.

      The CMIP5 models project rising greenhouse gases to cause changes in California all-winter precipitation that are very small compared to recent drought anomalies.

  3. Pingback: Six Headlines From 2009 Telling Us Important News About 2015’s Climate | US Issues

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