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BBC’s Eco Anxiety

May 16, 2019

By  Paul Homewood


h/t Quaesoveritas





Even by BBC standards, their series on Radio 4, Costing the Earth, is truly dreadful.

This week’s edition looks at eco anxiety (sic), actually treating a small group of eco loons as if they were right in the head. It begins with a subliminal set of short news sound clips about Hurricane Maria, devastating tornadoes, how the way we treat soil fuels climate change, wildfires in California, scientists warning that we need drastic action now to avoid climate catastrophe, and finally an announcer saying the words “rising global temperatures”.

Goebbels could not have done it better!

Half way through, they then interview someone called Jem Bendell, who has just written a paper, Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy, which takes as its premise an inevitable near-term social collapse due to climate change. His paper was so poor and extreme that it was rejected by the Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal.

But that naturally did not stop the BBC from wheeling him on as if he were a serious scientist.

And this is what Bendell said:

We saw in the summer of 2018 that disruption to agriculture across the western hemisphere. That’s the new normal.

We’re going to see more of that and worse.

Once people are going hungry in the west, normal life is going to break apart.


Leaving aside we have heard similar apocalyptic claims many times in the past, the interviewer, Verity Sharp, who tells us she is a musical broadcaster, fails to challenge Bendell at all.

So what exactly are the facts?

According to the UN, there was a slight dip in global cereal production last year, but such weather related dips are common and soon reverse themselves. Furthermore the trend in cereal output is quite clearly up, regardless of short term fluctuations.




As for Bendell’s pathetic “new normal”, the UN say:

Early prospects point to a likely rebound of 2.7 percent in global cereal production in 2019, following a decline registered in 2018. Based on the conditions of crops already in the ground and on planting intentions for those still to be sown, and assuming normal weather for the remainder of the season, world cereal output is forecast to reach a new record level of 2 722 million tonnes (including rice in milled equivalent), that is 71 million tonnes higher than in 2018. Among the major cereals, wheat, maize and barley would account for most of the rise in cereal production, with projected year-on-year increases of 2.5 percent, 2.2 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively. Global rice production is likely to remain close to the 2018 all-time high.


Fortunately, as the graph also shows, the world is rich enough to hold massive stocks to mitigate short term weather variability.

Going back further to 2000, we can see that cereal production has increased by nearly a half. The tiny drop in output last year is utterly insignificant against this background.





And here in the UK?



No sign of catastrophe there then either!


This is the Abstract of Jem Bendell’s paper, which the BBC seems to place so much faith in:




It is the usual muddle of warped thinking we expect from who claims to be a Professor of Sustainability Leadership and Founder of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) at the University of Cumbria (UK).

[Word of caution here – the University of Cumbria is not a proper university, and was formed in 2007, from the merger of the Cumbria College of Art & Design with St Martin’s College, which was essentially Carlisle Polytechnic.]


It is hardly surprising that some people end up with “eco anxiety”, when they face daily propaganda from the BBC designed to feed that very delusion.

  1. May 16, 2019 10:03 pm

    I asked Jem Bendell for a verification source for his statement on his 2018 agriculture and was sent this link:
    I haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

    • Pancho Plail permalink
      May 16, 2019 10:06 pm

      It starts off with “some scientists announced that their model was projecting how “society will collapse by 2040 due to catastrophic food shortages” so no need to read further.

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        May 17, 2019 2:07 am

        All so 1972…Limits to Growth. Flush some more CO2 through the greenhouse…

      • Up2snuff permalink
        May 17, 2019 9:27 am

        What might cause those ‘catastrophic food shortages’? It wouldn’t be forcing the world to go vegan in diet just at a time when the oil companies are thinking about leaving the stuff in the ground?

        The beauty of beef cattle, sheep, pigs, hens is that they are self-propelled and can cope with ground at several degrees to the horizontal. A cow will walk into the abattoir or, if necessary, the lorry to take it to the abattoir. That won’t work with sheaves of grain.

        Go vegan and you need mechanised farm vehicles to plant, tend and harvest the crop over much more level ground. That is going to have to be done by electric vehicles from 2040/2050 onwards. You need more fertilisers (from oil) for more arable because the animal source of fertilisers will be gone. Vegan crop yields are likely to be lower when they need to be vast and improving.

        That may be when oil use ends or has ended. People will be getting sick (no household cleaning products due to no oil), no drugs to treat them (yep, oil helps with those, too), cold (no oil, no gas, no coal & wood burning to heat homes) and hungry.

        Then the people will get angry.

      • saparonia permalink
        May 17, 2019 11:33 am

        It doesn’t take a scientist to see that volcanoes are erupting, crops are failing and the Sun is going into a very deep solar minimum. The predictions made by Martin Armstrong’s Socrates computer indicate a total collapse within the next 5-10 years. But not through any global warming.

  2. Pancho Plail permalink
    May 16, 2019 10:03 pm

    Do these people ever think about what they are saying. Wherever did he get the idea that social (societal?) collapse is likely, let alone inevitable, in any timescale as a consequence of a very gradual change in any variable that affects society?
    As for “Costing the Earth” I have never got past the introduction on the few occasions I sampled it. Pure, unscientific propaganda.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      May 17, 2019 11:09 am

      I’ve already mentioned Limits to Growth, but you can add Malthus, the history of societal collapse written by A.J. Toynbee (“Civilisations die by suicide, not by murder”) and Oswald Spengler, not to mention the Santa Fe Institute

      It’s interesting that back in the 1960s, before “climate change”, SFI researchers were prepared to consider Toynbee’s observation more seriously as proximate cause. It is also perhaps why they refuse to consider it now – they are at the heart of the experiment, or as Toynbee’s put it

      Sooner or later, man has always had to decide whether he worships his own power or the power of God.

      In this case the god is Climate Change.

  3. Joe Public permalink
    May 16, 2019 10:15 pm

    Here’s the solution – franchises available:

    • John Palmer permalink
      May 17, 2019 9:30 am

      Very funny, Joe.
      The Beeb should start a phone-in based on this.
      Oh… maybe they already have!

    • May 17, 2019 10:11 am

      People with ‘eco anxiety’ do indeed need help, if they’ve become addicted to the media scare stories.

      • Dave Ward permalink
        May 17, 2019 11:58 am

        What about people like me who are suffering from the side effects of “Eco Anxiety”? I’m not the slightest bit worried about being fried by runaway global warming, but DO worry daily about rising energy and fuel bills, as well as ever encroaching restrictions on what sort of vehicle I can drive, and where I can drive it. None of these are “Scare Stories” – they are facts, and a direct result of government belief in the quasi-religious “Climate Doom” bogeyman.

        There was a time when Dave Cameron was supposed to have said he wanted to “Get rid of this green crap”, but that never happened. Now we have nutters like Gummer, Yeo & Gove pulling the strings, and the probable future inhabitants of Downing street are likely to drag us even further down the rabbit hole.

        “Is the future of the planet making you feel depressed?”

        Damn right it is, but NOT for the reasons these parasites believe in. Why can’t they all bugger off and try to “Geo-Engineer” a parallel universe, leaving the rest of us alone…

  4. john cooknell permalink
    May 16, 2019 10:21 pm

    If the 4th Panzer division were advancing across the Belgium Plain, I would be anxious!

    If the weather is a bit off, I would get my coat!

    • Shoki Kaneda permalink
      May 16, 2019 11:37 pm

      Too funny, and true. Keep an eye on those Germans.

  5. I_am_not_a_robot permalink
    May 16, 2019 10:35 pm

    ‘Collapse’ appears 59 times in the good professor’s apocalyptic paper: “near-term social collapse”, “ecologically-induced social collapse”, “inevitable near-term social collapse”, “collapse-denial”, “climate-induced societal collapse is now inevitable in the near term”, “social collapse triggered by an environmental catastrophe” on and on and on — but no date.

  6. MrGrimNasty permalink
    May 16, 2019 10:38 pm

    “The best subjects for brainwashing are intelligent and emotionally vulnerable.”

    If you’ve ever engaged with anyone from XR you will see what they can’t, it’s a brainwashing cult – the members feel welcomed, speak of acting out of love, that what they were told was a revelation – an awakening etc.

    As ever Daniel Greenfield hits the nail on the head.

    And if you though things couldn’t get ‘dafta’, Bafta thinks saturation climate change coverage isn’t enough!

    • MrGrimNasty permalink
      May 16, 2019 10:40 pm


    • Dave Ward permalink
      May 17, 2019 12:09 pm

      “If you’ve ever engaged with anyone from XR you will see what they can’t, it’s a brainwashing cult – that what they were told was a revelation – an awakening etc”

      I experienced exactly the same thing a number of years ago, when several work colleagues “Found the Lord”. Apparently he was sitting on the edge of their beds when they woke up… I have no problem with people believing in God, but this bunch were something else – as far as they were concerned it didn’t matter if you considered yourself to be a Christian, unless you were THEIR sort of Christian you might as well be the Devil. And if you tried to reason or argue (politely, or otherwise) it was obvious that you were wasting your time – just like the XR mob, and other Climate Change hangers-on.

  7. Broadlands permalink
    May 17, 2019 2:32 am

    What continues to amaze me is the constant repetitive warnings to take action, to do something… but without any real answer to what that action might be and how long it would take to stop this on-coming train of catastrophic weather. When will they realize that nothing of substance can realistically be done? Cosmetic mitigation?

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      May 17, 2019 12:12 pm

      As I’ve said in other places, when it comes down to it, in order to change the climate one first has to change the weather. Scientists will have to come up with a means of controlling the weather for 30 years, at least, and then also know what the effects of such control will be week to week. Truly, a mad concept.

  8. It doesn't add up... permalink
    May 17, 2019 2:34 am

    I’d add that prices for cereal crops are among the lowest they have been in a decade. You can check that out here:

    Click on the 20Y box on the chart to get a 20 year view. Scroll down to the box on the right hand side to pick another crop to chart and repeat. What you will see is that agricultural prices got a big shot in the arm from the QE by the Fed (run by Ben Bernanke at the time) in the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2008: commodity futures attracted a lot of speculative money that had been liquidated from financial markets and reinforced by QE funds that needed an alternative home . I dubbed the phenomenon “Uncle Ben’s long grain, rice” at the time in honour of the US branded rice sold in supermarkets e.g. and the idea that effectively the Fed was causing speculation on the long side, forcing up prices.

    Many of the agricultural commodities had a further period of volatility prior to 2015, much of it caused by unwinding and rebuilding of positions from financial investors rather than sales by growers and purchases by food manufacturers that normally dominate the market. Some of the variation is sympathy with oil and gas markets, since energy is an important cost for farmers. Since then, prices have typically been stable and declining in most cases.

    • bobn permalink
      May 17, 2019 2:25 pm

      Good post ‘it doesnt add up’. Commodity production is driven more by market prices than climate etc.. If wheat went down last year its because the price of wheat on the futures markets went down so farmers planted something else. My arable farm neighbour turned his wheat fields over to pigs due to prices. 10 yrs ago he got out of pigs altogether and went full arable. Wheat has been plentiful so less is now grown, but with the cold and flooding in the USA this year wheat prices might soon rise and that will lead to increases in wheat Prodn next year. The market regulates. Of course in the socialist EU surplus food mountains and abnormal high prices are the norm. Nice to know we pay tax in the UK to give to the EU to subsidise tobacco production!

  9. May 17, 2019 6:03 am

    This even featured on the “prayer for today” on R4 this morning, with listeners being encouraged to emulate St. Francis.

  10. May 17, 2019 8:12 am

    It’s so predictable. Third rate academic from a newly formed ‘University’ decides they want to contribute something original and ‘groundbreaking’ to the dire climate catastrophe literature. But they don’t know much about climate science. So:

    “To write this paper, I had to block out time to review climate science for the first time since I was at Cambridge University in 1994 and to analyse implications in a rigorous way.”

    But he knows enough to know that climate change is a bit boring and not ‘catastrophic’ enough in the short term to justify his theory that ‘social collapse’ is imminent. So he goes looking for the juicy stuff:

    “First, I briefly explain the paucity of research that considers or starts from social collapse due to environmental catastrophe and give acknowledgement to the existing work in this field that many readers may consider relevant. Second, I summarise what I consider to be the most important climate science of the last few years and how it is leading more people to conclude that we face disruptive changes in the near-term.”

    Note, what ‘HE considers to be the most important climate science’. The expert, I’m sure we all agree. Then he finds something! ‘Tipping points’ and Jennifer Francis’ ludicrous and discredited Arctic amplification theory of extreme weather! Enough junk science there to justify his inevitable near term social collapse.

    “Non-linear changes are of central importance to understanding climate change, as they suggest both that impacts will be far more rapid and severe than predictions based on linear projections and that the changes no longer correlate with the rate of anthropogenic carbon emissions. In other words – ‘runaway climate change.

    The warming of the Arctic reached wider public awareness as it has begun destabilizing winds in the higher atmosphere, specifically the jet stream and the northern polar vortex, leading to extreme movements of warmer air north in to the Arctic and cold air to the south.”

    To put flesh on the bones of his ‘extreme weather affecting agriculture’ narrative, he cites a risible ‘study’ by Herring, Stott et al which attributes extreme heat events in an extreme El Nino year (2016) to anthropogenic climate change:

    “This sixth edition of explaining extreme events of the previous year (2016) from a climate perspective is the first of these reports to find that some extreme events were not possible in a preindustrial climate. The events were the 2016 record global heat, the heat across Asia, as well as a marine heat wave off the coast of Alaska. While these results are novel, they were not unexpected. Climate attribution scientists have been predicting that eventually the influence of human-caused climate change would become sufficiently strong as to push events beyond the bounds of natural variability alone. ”

    Obviously, his refresher course on climate change didn’t enlighten him sufficiently as to the difference between jet stream generated extreme weather and global disturbances due to intense El Nino events. But then, he DOES think that Peter Wadhams is “one of the most eminent climate scientists in the world”. LOL. Whacky Wadhams’s ‘methane clathrate bomb’ is the ideal non linear feedback which Bendell needs to tell us that all hope is lost and that ‘deep adaptation’ to the imminent social collapse is now the only realistic option. Truly dreadful, evidence-lite catastrophe literature which the truly dreadful BBC is promoting as ‘climate truth’.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      May 17, 2019 10:44 am

      The real tipping point will come when the public realise they have been conned.

  11. May 17, 2019 9:21 am

    This is really dishonest and irresponsible behaviour from the BBC.

    While claiming to be concerned about people suffering from eco-anxiety, they themselves are actively promoting, by for example giving time to charlatans like Bendell, whose work is best described as “crap”:

  12. europeanonion permalink
    May 17, 2019 9:26 am

    The tools of the trade for the necromancer are dread and doubt. Once the sandwich boards were out in numbers and the end of the world was nigh. Our Armageddon being predicted gathers pace as more and more media junkies hear snippets of information which are echoed in the conversations of others. Soon this becomes a certainty in the, yes, I heard that too, world. How can you break the chain? With the numbers of humans on the planet there are certainties about extinctions. Some say that our back gardens are reserves which can be used to counter the loss of the wild places. There are obvious flaws in that, as any badger could tell (if only they could talk).

    What is truly surprising is that with the ending of Christopher Booker’s career there should be a vacancy for his input at the Telegraph. This seems to be an ideal opportunity for Paul Homewood. Secreted here in our little enclave talking to ourselves about our beliefs is speaking to the converted. It’s that other 99% we have to influence. What about it Paul?

    • John Palmer permalink
      May 17, 2019 9:34 am

      If only!!!!

  13. john cooknell permalink
    May 17, 2019 9:41 am

    Costing the Earth is produced by the BBC to come up with stuff like this, it is journalism it is not science or News, but the BBC does get confused.

  14. May 17, 2019 9:45 am

    One frequent claim by those taking part in the programme was that “hundreds of species” were going extinct every day.
    I have been attempting to find a source for this figure and the nearest I have found so far is possibly this UN report:
    This apparently includes the prediction that
    “Human actions threaten more species with global extinction now than ever before,” the report concludes, estimating that “around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken.”
    If one divides 1 million by 20 years, the figure is 137 per day, which could be the source of the quoted figure.
    Of course that a prediction, which is not the same as saying that it was actually happening,
    Also I don’t think the figure was entirely due to climate change.

  15. Bloke down the pub permalink
    May 17, 2019 10:16 am

    True story. Last night I was in my local, having a few beers with friends and chatting to the barmaid including on the subject of eco warriors (sic worriers). She informed me that the previous night there had been a meeting in the pub of a group of Greens , one of whom had asked for the pub’s wifi to be switched off as it caused illness in some of those attending. Apparently, the landlord suggested that he got some tin foil from the kitchen and made them some hats but that offer wasn’t passed on to the poor dears. Stroud is a hotspot for green nutters.

    • colin smith permalink
      May 19, 2019 1:55 pm

      @Bloke down the pub
      Tee hee.

      I too am a resident of a village for which Stroud is my “town”.
      There has been an infestation of greens at the Cainscross roundabout, making it even less sightly than it already is.

      Have you had a Green party candidate come a-knocking?
      The shock on her face that anyone should hold contradictory views and that their policies were contributing to fuel poverty and excess winter deaths was a sight that keeps me warm(er!) at night to this day 🙂

  16. May 17, 2019 11:06 am

    The term ‘Climate change’ is too ‘passive’ for Guardian alarm merchants now…

    Why the Guardian is changing the language it uses about the environment

    • May 17, 2019 11:44 am

      Oldbrew, that’s hilarious.

      “Instead of “climate change” the preferred terms are “climate emergency, crisis or breakdown” and “global heating” is favoured over “global warming”, although the original terms are not banned.”

      I laughed out loud when I read that.

      Then I read on and fell off my chair.

      “We want to ensure that we are being scientifically precise, while also communicating clearly with readers on this very important issue,” said the editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner.

      Peak Graun isn’t a static target, it’s a gift which just keeps giving.

      I blame Richard Betts. He came up with that silly term “global heating” a while back at Katowice.

      • Gerry, England permalink
        May 17, 2019 2:01 pm

        They have been struggling with global warming ever since it stopped in 1998 with only two El Ninos to break up the flatlining. The Karl et al paper failed to help when even crooks such as Mann criticised it – yes, it was that bad!!! And since we know that ENSO is a weather phenomenon the heat peaks would dissipate as indeed they have. After the hottest Easter evah in the UK, who has still got their heating on 17 days into May?

  17. Vernon E permalink
    May 17, 2019 11:06 am

    Of course we miss Booker, but don’t we think Paul does enough for us? Somebody else should step up to the plate. What about the GWPF putting their money where their mouths are and selecting someone to put forward?

    • May 17, 2019 12:08 pm

      I think they are probably banned from the MSm.
      I doubt if anyone quotes them any more.
      Yet every tom, dick and harry who has an alarmist view is given publicity.
      I often wonder if you made up a totally fake alarmist story would get in some newspapers and on the BBC.
      I don’t know how they would tell the difference considering some of the stories published recently.

    • Harry Passfield permalink
      May 17, 2019 12:18 pm

      Andrew Montford?

  18. saparonia permalink
    May 17, 2019 11:25 am

    It was published recently that Kenyan women were sterilised covertly. Our children are being taught in school that transgenderism is normal and attractive. There is an agenda written in stone that population has to be culled to about an eigth of what it is now. This climate change paranioa is intentional. When industries disappear, there is less necessity for a workforce, lets be real here. Incitement to protest, violence and despondence, war and disease are control mechanisms. This is why our younger generation are being led into paths of self-destruction. We don’t even see the predator.


  1. BBC’s Eco Anxiety – Has everyone lost their mind?

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