The climate crusade marches across America!

Summary: The climate campaign has begun a new phase, with an acceleration in the pace of activists’ propaganda. Will this succeed?

It’s the end times!

The End Times: hand holding dry tree in front of a catastrophic background.
ID 9523824 © Noahgolan | Dreamstime.

Climate activists have begun a propaganda barrage the likes of which the American public has seldom seen. Every day new studies about the present or future dooms, new interviews with activists, and new reports about the terror experienced by children told every day that the world is dying.

Several years ago I predicted that they would do something like this. During the past 30 years, climate activists have prudently and steadily penetrated key American institutions, especially journalism, academia, NGOs, and Hollywood. While “skeptics” chortled and deniers laughed about the “alleged greenhouse theory”, activists amassed funding and power.

Soviet analysts evaluated strength not in terms of who was right, but by the “correlation of forces.” That is, the sum total of each side’s power in its various forms: economic, political, social, and spiritual. (See this DoD paper for more about this powerful concept.) Activists have them all, to an overwhelming degree. Now, on the eve of the 2020 election, they strike.

This is a well-executed campaign, what John Robb calls an “open source insurgency” (in his 2008 books Brave New War). No central organization, just loosely organized organizations with common beliefs and goals. They produce swarms of doomster claims, a volume beyond critics’ ability to refute, broadcast in every medium by their allied institutions. Here are examples of the different kinds of climate propaganda – the tropes –  filling the media, slowly molding US public opinion.

RCP8.5: the worst-case business as usual scenario.

This the doomster’s holy grail: the worst-case scenario used by Working Group I in the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report. For political effect, it is often falsely described as the business-as-usual scenario (i.e., it assumes changes in important and long-term trends). In fact, it is either unlikely or impossible – as a good worst-case should be.

Scores or hundreds of papers show that it would be pretty awful. They do not show that it would exterminate humanity. See four dozen examples. But journalists uncritically and without context announce each new paper as the funeral tolling of a great bell.

Bogus stories

Another favorite of the doomsters’ propaganda is fake news. Such as Okjökull is dead. They say that we killed it. The story is bogus, as usual. None of the horde of journalists and climate activists running this story bothered to do a search for papers about this glacier. Ten minutes of research destroys the story. But my personal favorite is this example of activists’ propaganda driving people to hysteria: a comment at Naked Capitalism in reply to me citing the IPCC as an authority about climate.

The North Pole is a frickin’ LAKE, you ass. You are either being paid well for these posts, or you are off your meds. I swear, these Baghdad Bobs are going to be crowing about the earth cooling right up until their proteins start congealing from the heat.”

The story of the lake at the North Pole was, of course, bogus.

The single study syndrome

Andrew Revkin described “single study syndrome” (e.g., here and here): when people ignore the consensus of scientists and focus on a single cherry-picked paper. It is another staple of climate activists. NBC recently gave a fine example: “Climate scientists drive stake through heart of skeptics’ argument.” All contrary papers are ignored because this better met the political needs of NBC’s journalists. No replication needed! {In the real world, science is in the midst of the replication crisis – making replication even more essential.}

Exaggerating the science

Another staple tool of activists is exaggerating the science. For example, see this by activists Eric Holthaus (a writer at Grist).

Neither of these statements is correct. The paper is more tentative than Holthaus says, and it says nothing about “melting in 50 years.” Details here. Nevertheless, this tweet went viral on the Left. It was featured in the daily links at Naked Capitalism; it got 7 thousand retweets and 16 thousand likes.

Also see “Uncertainty in forecasts of long-run economic growth” by economists: P. Christensen, K. Gillingham, and W. Nordhaus. in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 14 May 2018. RCP8.5 is no longer scary enough for activists. This paper exaggerates it many fold. Here is a brief rebuttal by Justin Ritchie. To mention just one factor: estimates of recoverable fossil fuel reserves are far less than required for this scenario.

Another fine example is this new VICE article about climate change. It cites studies saying that climate change has already forced millions of people to migrate. It’s the ur-theory of the Left, combining two of their favorite causes: open borders and climate change. These claims are often made, and always disintegrate upon examination. Just as this one does.


“And that, senorita, is the weakness of our Cause. Communications. Those goons were not important. But crucially important is that it lay with the Warden, not with us, to decide whether the story should be told. To a revolutionist, communications are a sine-qua-non.”
— From Robert Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.

The volume of activists’ propaganda is too large; it makes rebuttal almost impossible. Joining the doomster parade is the fast track to fame for those in the physical and social sciences. Journals in an ever-widening range of fields just wave through studies about the effects of climate change (a travesty of peer-review). This influence on America’s communication systems is power. It is tactical genius resulting from decades of effort.

But as the Germans learned in WWI and WWII (they had to repeat the lesson), tactical excellence cannot overcome strategic errors. Activists rely on doomster messages that are beyond the climate science consensus. This gets attention, might prove to be a strategic error. After generations of bombardment by doomster messages from scores of causes, the US public has become inured to them. “It’s an announcement that the end is nigh. It must be Tuesday.”

The use of doomster tropes goes back to the beginning of the Cold War.

“Mr. President, if that’s what you want there is only one way to get it. That is to make a personal appearance before Congress and scare the hell out of the country.”
— Senator Arthur Vandenberg’s advice to Truman about how to start the Cold War. On 12 March 1947 Truman did exactly that. From Put yourself in Marshall’s place by James P. Warburg (1948). Warburg helped develop our wartime propaganda programs.

Since then US elites have used fear as one of their top tools to manipulate the US. Especially the Left.

“The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next 10 years.”
— “Looking Backward from 2000 A.D.” by Paul Ehrlich in The Progressive, April 1970 (gated).

“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.”
— Denis Hayes, the chief organizer for Earth Day, in The Living Wilderness, Spring 1970.

“If current trends continue by the year 2000 the United Kingdom will simply be a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people, of little or no concern to the other 5-7 billion inhabitants of a sick world. …If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”
— Paul R. Ehrlich speaking in London at the Institute of Biology, as reported “In Praise of Prophets” by Bernard Dixon in the New Scientist, 27 November 1971.

See some of the many failed predictions of climate doom. So what are the results of the climate campaign? A new WaPo story shows that they have scared children: “Most American teens are frightened by climate change“, based on a new survey. Activists have a terrified 16-year-girl as their spokesman. But adults are less easily influenced.

Time will tell if climate activists succeed in panicking the American people. More likely, the weather will decide who wins the climate wars. Activists have laid the foundation for a decisive victory, but only a spell of extreme weather will push the American people to demand action.

Perhaps if activists had not abandoned mainstream climate science, they would not need to rely on the weather for success.

For More Information

Ideas! See my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. For more information about this vital issue see the keys to understanding climate change. Also, see all posts about fear, about doomsters, and especially these …

  1. Importantclimate scientists can restart the climate change debate – & win.
  2. Focusing on worst case climate futures doesn’t work. It shouldn’t work.
  3. Lessons from the failure of the climate change crusade.
  4. Why skeptics will lose the US climate policy debate.
  5. Scientists show us why the climate change campaign failed.
  6. Lessons from the failure of the climate change crusade.

Activists don’t want you to read these books

Some unexpected good news about polar bears: The Polar Bear Catastrophe That Never Happened by Susan Crockford (2019).

To learn more about the state of climate change see The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters & Climate Change by Roger Pielke Jr., professor for the Center for Science and Policy Research at U of CO – Boulder (2018).

The Rightful Place of Science: Disasters and Climate Change
Available at Amazon.

24 thoughts on “The climate crusade marches across America!”

  1. These uninformed climate justice worriers time would be better spent cleaning up the litter along their march route. Plastic bags, straws, beer bottles, and such. Make it special, plant some trees to suck up some of the CO2 they know nothing about.
    After that, heavy detention for truancy, and homework on the IPCC report.


  2. I, too, have noticed the recent large increase in scaremongering stories all across the media landscape, which of course are amplified by social media. Some of it is just resonance, but there seems to be an awful lot of coordination, too.

    We may have reached peak hysteria, though, with little to show for it. Jo Nova reports that a sizable majority of Americans are skeptics, along with a somewhat smaller majority of Australians and a very large (49%) plurality of Britons.

    Or perhaps it’s just peak virtue-signaling, a rapidly inflating social currency.

    1. Scott,

      (1) Polls show a slow increase in the number of Americans worried about climate change.

      (2) Getting popular support is the last stage of a revolutionary movement.

      “Nor seek to persuade for the pleasure of having another share your views. He’ll share them when the times comes – or you’ve misjudged the moment in history.”
      — Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

  3. “We will beat you without firing a single bullet.”

    — Momar Khadafi (aka Muammar Gaddafi, late ruler of Libya).

  4. The adage was “Never let a good catastrophe go to waste.” Today’s version is “Never, let the facts get in the way of a catastrophe.”

    Only in clown world, I hope. But, that hope may be too optimistic.

  5. It’s not scaremongering. It’s reality. Stop gazing into the sand that is obscuring your gaze into reality of actual climate change by actual climatologists, not the pseudo climatologists that are on YouTube.

    1. Hugh,

      “Stop gazing into the sand that is obscuring your gaze into reality of actual climate change by actual climatologists, not the pseudo climatologists that are on YouTube.”

      Stop lying. It’s bad for your soul and for your mind.

      I have never cited any “pseudo-climatologists. All my cites about climate science are of (in decreasing frequency) the IPCC, the major climate agencies, the peer-reviewed literature, and climate scientists.

      1. Larry,

        Hugh and his alarmist friends will be going into high gear for the next week. The climax of the green revolution coming up.

        I may lay low, they don’t listen anyway. #ClownWorld

      1. Scott,

        I agree with Hugh about the importance of relying on accurate sources. I object to his lies about the sources I rely on.

        This was nice of him, providing an immediate examples of the “bogus stories” tactic I described in this post.

  6. But the thing you don’t mention is perhaps the strangest aspect of this mania: that the policies the activists propose will have, if their theories are correct, little or no influence on warming.

    The entire movement seems to be devoted to a doctrine of panic now about global emissions, but advocate none of the actions which would be required to lower them. Instead focus on things which will have minimal effects.

    Consider as the latest example of this some pieces in the Guardian, which has turned itself into an activist news sheet on this topic. A piece the other day enquired how the state Health Service could lower its emissions. Well, these are about 5% of total UK emissions, which in turn are about 1% of global emissions. Why would any rational person who is worried about global emissions pick this to focus on?

    Today it reports on a publication by the Exponential Roadmap initiative. The publications will be found here:

    The Guardian’s take is here:

    Essentially, we (and more on who ‘we’ are in a minute) will have to move to solar and wind generation and electric cars, eat differently, avoid deforestation and improve land management…

    The piece mentions various European countries and their initiatives. But you will notice that it studiously avoids suggesting that the policies will require the Chinese and Indians and Indonesians to reduce the tonnage of their emissions, or to abolish their ICE vehicle industries, or stop their huge concrete and cement productions.

    It talks about measures. Not about who will have to take them.

    The argument starts with the world having to reduce, the general ‘we’. And then it elides into a narrower ‘we’, namely we the US and EU, or we the West. Without actually saying it explicitly it suggest somehow the goal of halving emissions by 2030 can be accomplished by actions by this narrow group of ‘us’.

    Just as the suggestion is that lowering the emissions by the UK Health Service can make an important contribution to lowering global emissions.

    The position taken is: panic at the global forecast, then agitate to do something locally which will have no effect on it.

    It is very, very weird.

    The IPCC scenarios are not very useful if you are focused on policy action, because of the huge variability of emissions by country. The only way to get to global reductions is to focus on action by country, starting with the biggest and fastest growing emitters. But this the activists rigorously refuse to do.

    The question enquiring minds ask is: Why?

    1. This is very very bizarre! I can’t find a logical explanation for the media hype taking place this year. It all looks perfectly coordinated. But what is the goal??

      1. Yes, it does make the impression of coordination.

        The Guardian style guide – which specifies using expressions like ‘global heating’ instead of ‘global warming’, and only referring to the climate situation as the ‘climate crisis’ or ‘climate emergency’ is another local example of the movement of much of the press from being news reporters on this, to being the propaganda sheets of the activist movement.

        But the key question to focus on is, why the climate movement continually demands actions which cannot, if it believes what it claims, materially affect the alleged problem, while refusing to demand the actions which its beliefs would require.

        Why does the UN focus on Western coal use, and not China’s, when China is mining and burning more coal than the rest of the world put together? Why is it only the West that must reduce emissions, when its emissions are small, static and decreasing, and the ROW is doing 75% of global emissions and increasing them?

        Its almost like the aim is not to reduce global emissions at all, but to use the issue to organize around, radicalize around, and get things done which will have no effect on climate, but which will damage the Western economies.

  7. Look for a surge of self-importance starting tomorrow from the global alarmists.

    Trump, on climate, says he won’t jeopardize U.S. wealth on ‘dreams’. Works for me.

    1. Global tree hugger issues. I remember when I was young and protesting US soldiers coming home in body bags.

  8. This from the UK Telegraph….

    Collective hysteria. Ask yourself the key question: is China, with GDP per capita about equal to the EU, considered ‘developed’?

    No, thought not. There will be some reason why China can carry on growing its emissions, its own coal use, building coal fired generating plant all around the world, in the thousands, but the critical thing will be for the UK save the planet and to close some or all of its 20 coal fired generating plants.

    Because climate.

    Climate strikers praised by Jeremy Corbyn and other Labour leaders as “inspirational” are backed by militant groups demanding that developed countries make punitive payments to the Third World to ‘make up’ for being the first to industrialise.

    As thousands of schoolchildren were joined by adults around the world in demanding government act faster to tackle climate change, it emerged that the movement’s organisers have a far reaching militant agenda.

    Global Climate Strike, one of the main groups behind yesterday’s overwhelmingly peaceful protests, advocates making “reparations” of billions of pounds to developing countries suffering the effects of climate change and wants a ban on all fossil fuels by as soon as 2030.

    Critics say many of those taking part in yesterday’s events will have little idea of the full extent of the agenda espoused by Global Climate Strike, which advocates a complete switch to renewable energy by the end of the next decade, while at the same time banning nuclear power.

    Global Climate Strike also advocates a fundamental change to the way food is grown, distributed and consumed, which some economists warn would see a return to a pre-industrial agricultural economy.

  9. Larry,

    “The volume of activists’ propaganda is too large; it makes rebuttal almost impossible. Joining the doomster parade is the fast track to fame for those in the physical and social sciences. Journals in an ever-widening range of fields just wave through studies about the effects of climate change (a travesty of peer-review). This influence on America’s communication systems is power. It is tactical genius resulting from decades of effort.”

    Today proved your words and not just in America.

  10. Reading the Guardian this am with amazement and disbelief. And thinking about what Larry says in the headline to the post:

    The climate campaign has begun a new phase, with an acceleration in the pace of activists’ propaganda. Will this succeed?</>

    Millions of people, mostly as far as can be told children, seem to be demonstrating and demanding something.

    But does anyone have any idea what specifically they even want? What will ‘succeeding’ consist of?

    The answer to the question is, probably no. Revolutions never succeed on the basis of mass demonstrations or general strikes. This was the fallacy of Trotsky based on the events of 1905, from which he drew the false conclusion that this had not been quite enough, and that a bit more would have done it.

    What is necessary is the combination of a general crisis (famine, catastrophic war or whatever) chaos and loss of legitimacy by the government of the day, which causes them to fail to restore order, and a group or well organized and determined people in place at the right time and place.

    I don’t see any of these things with the climate movement – and in particular, it lacks the necessary clear goal, the aim of seizing power. Not that they seem to have any idea what they would do with it if they had it!

    The only way to look at this is as a moral panic or great popular delusion. Its on a level with the Children’s Crusade, or that extraordinary episode in Africa where a tribe killed all its cattle on the say-so of a bunch of kids, and then starved. Or the craziness analyzed in ‘When Prophecy Fails’.

    Its more like the last, on a grand scale. It has the similar element that the original senior establishment instigators start to get more and more nervous as the movement at a grass roots level becomes increasingly apocalyptic and extreme.

    You notice the characteristic? That at the same time as the catastrophe fails to happen, and the forecasts are clearly not happening, the intensity of the belief increases. Unlike Larry, I think this is a sign we are in the last days. Just like the Millerites, Wednesday will come, the sun will rise, we will all be looking at each other wondering where Jesus got to after all.

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