EDITOR'S NOTE: Climate change and pandemic. Fear-mongering or legitimate warning? We can go on and on as to how one side of the political fence will use fear as a tool for social and political manipulation. But such a debate wouldn’t be fruitful, especially with both sides having accused the other of establishing an era of “post truth.” The author below criticizes, perhaps harshly, the use of fear to inform both climate change and pandemic spread. Fear can be an important self-preservation tool but only if you know how to use it. Let’s put it in this way: it’s better to fearfully mistake a boulder for a bear than it is to mistake a bear for a boulder. Do you get it now?
Climate alarmists have said it’s necessary to ratchet up the fear about global warming to get the public’s attention. It’s the same story with the coronavirus outbreak. Authorities wanted to strike fear in the people, so they exaggerated the lethality of a virus deadly to only a narrow demographic segment.
Compare and contrast:
Global warming, 1988. “We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have,” about global warming, said Stanford climatologist Stephen Schneider. (In the interest of full disclosure, the entire quotation ends with Schneider saying “each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.” We’re leaving it up to readers to decide if he was advocating dishonesty to further the narrative or telling researchers and activists to cool it with the deceptive rhetoric. Either way, someone was pushing the agitprop.)
Pandemic, 2020. Britain’s Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behavior warned “that ministers needed to increase ‘the perceived level of personal threat’ from Covid-19 because ‘a substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened,’” the London Telegraph reported last year in its coverage of “A State of Fear: How the UK government weaponized fear during the Covid-19 pandemic,” by Laura Dodsworth.
Global warming, 2014. The academics who wrote a paper published in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics said their article “provides a rationale for” the tendency of “news media and some pro-environmental organizations” to accentuate or even exaggerate “the damage caused by climate change.”
“We find,” they wrote, “that the information manipulation has an instrumental value.”
Pandemic, 2020. The Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Behavior recommends the perception of fear regarding the coronavirus needed to “be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging.”
Global warming, circa 2001. University of Alabama in Huntsville climatologist John Christy, lead author on the 2001 United Nations’ climate report, had lunch with three European colleagues who talked about “how they were trying to make the report so dramatic that the United States would just have to sign that Kyoto Protocol.”
Pandemic, 2021. The New York Times’ “overblown” warnings “must be viewed in context of the Gray Lady’s wider lock-down-the-world agenda,” says the New York Post’s Steve Cuozzo. “The paper rarely reports unqualified hopeful news about taming the virus.”
Global Warming, 2004. NASA scientist James Hansen, who is the godfather of climate alarmists, wrote in Scientific American, that an “emphasis on extreme scenarios may have been appropriate at one time, when the public and decision-makers were relatively unaware of the global warming issue.” In the next sentence, he added that, “now, however, the need is for demonstrably objective climate-forcing scenarios consistent with what is realistic under current conditions.” So objective science was not good enough to advance the narrative, then it was?
Pandemic, 2021. “I did a simple Google search of ‘recent coronavirus news reports,'” says psychologist Ilisa Kaufman in Psychology Today. “The first random five headlines had the words, ‘death toll rising,’ ‘new infections,’ and ‘thousands of COVID cases, hundreds of deaths.’ Those were the first five. Also, it is May of 2021, a full 14 months since the beginning of the pandemic. Absolutely nothing reassuring, hopeful, or non-alarming.” She goes on to suggest “some ways to help correct or prevent mental health consequences from the ‘fear porn’ industry.”
We’re not fully convinced the lockdowns were conspiratorial dry runs to accustom the world to future restrictions handed down under the guise of “fighting” global warming. But as we said when the lockdowns were still relatively new, “observant and cunning politicians have gone to school” and were thinking over the possibility they could “use the pretext of a climate emergency to control Americans and break the back of capitalism.”
The ingredients are all present. A teen activist whose name isn’t Greta Thunberg has put down on paper what many are thinking when she wrote “if we can shut the world down to stop a virus, that also means it is possible to do the same for climate change.” It’s the sort of superficial statement that earns her points from a puerile media, ever-mugging politicians, and the adults among us who haven’t outgrown their insecure high school aspirations to be popular. And an idea many will run with.
The chilling fact there is much to be afraid of – not of a falling sky or a virus that we hope is on the wane, but of those eager to stir up dread and anxiety so they exercise the raw power they covet.
Originally posted on Issues & Insights.