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Greta Thunberg’s Message Of Doom Is Religion, Not Reality

August 11, 2020

By Paul Homewood



In January, the great and not so good of the corporate elite gathered at Davos for another telling off from Greta Thunberg.

“One year ago I came to Davos and told you that our house is on fire,” the climate activist reminded delegates. “I said I wanted you to panic.” In the intervening year they had not panicked enough, she said.

Although the meeting of the World Economic Forum was dedicated to creating a “Cohesive and Sustainable World”, and corporate culture has gone obsessively green, the naughty capitalists and greedy governments refused to end the use of fossil fuels instantly.

The rotters refused to extinguish commercial lifestyles to save the planet from imminent immolation.

Ironically, even as the high priestess of the Extinction Rebellion religion preached her sermon, Covid-19 was sweeping in from China and weeks later would shut down the world economy.

Since then we have all been treated to a live experiment in what happens when economic activity is cut by 25 percent.

While there are undoubted upsides and lessons to be learned about cleaner air in cities, the downside is looming mass unemployment, the ruin of the global aviation industry, and worsening health and educational inequalities.

This is not enough for Extinction Rebellion campaigners who want to go even further in shutting down activity.

Earlier this month, Thunberg set out in an open letter a list of demands that, if implemented, would make the economic effects of Covid-19 seem mild. Her co-signatories included assorted celebrities, activists, and, inevitably, Coldplay.

Climate catastrophists are clearly keen to get the alarmist show back on the road, perhaps because they have been eclipsed by the pandemic.

I am not someone who denies that protecting the environment is important. Cleaner air is required. When it comes to more efficient energy, less wasteful consumption, and rewilding our countryside, I’m all for it.

But the hysteria of the XR crew, amplified by the media, is counterproductive because it frightens people and could lead to panicked policy-making.

The risk is that overreaction by governments will turn voters against any kind of environmental policy. It need not be this way. With the intelligent use of technology and mitigation measures, mankind is more than capable of adapting to warmer conditions.

This is one of the points made in Bjorn Lomborg’s important new book False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet.

Mr. Lomborg is a long-standing environmentalist regarded as a heretic by hardliners in the movement because he is an optimist who says that humanity is not doomed.

Global warming is happening, he says, but populations have been “scared witless” into thinking that it means the end of life on Earth.

“The rhetoric on climate change has become ever more extreme and less moored to the actual science,” he says. “The science shows us that fears of a climate apocalypse are unfounded. Global warming is real, but it is not the end of the world. It is a manageable problem.”

Lomborg advocates a “well-designed” carbon tax and reduced emissions but also more adaptation of the kind that, unheralded, is already happening. For 150 years sea levels have been rising and we have adapted by improving coastal protection.

We’re learning more about rivers and flood protection too. On heatwaves, economic growth will help to pay for better and more fuel-efficient air conditioning.

Cities can be adapted with more green spaces. Even something as simple as ensuring that roofs and roads are lighter in color — not black, which absorbs heat and warms urban areas — can make a difference.

For the sin of deviation from the apocalyptic consensus, The New York Times — woke bible and host of the Greta event at Davos in January — unleashed the eminent economist Joseph Stiglitz to lambast Mr. Lomborg, who has since responded with an amusing line-by-line demolition of Mr. Stiglitz’s claims.

But what may make the biggest difference to the debate is population decline.

A study published this month by the Department of Health Metrics Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle suggested that a declining global fertility rate would cause population levels to plummet from 2064.

Twenty-three countries including Japan, Thailand, and Spain will have their populations more than halved.

This threatens to undermine one of the foundations of climate alarmism: the assumption that there are too many ghastly people and, by breeding and consuming resources, we will all soon destroy Mother Earth.

The prospect of population decline could be bad news for the fundraising efforts of the Greta crew if it becomes clear that climate change is even more manageable than thought.

I doubt that hardline climate campaigners will for one second allow this to dilute the purity of their doom-laden message, though. They have founded a religion and anything that distracts from it is heresy.

In that respect, they have much in common with woke calls for a social justice revolution. The best parallel for both of these is perhaps with the 16th and 17th centuries and the spread of Puritanism, a campaign to purify worship and signal virtue.

As the more extreme Puritans knew, declaring the apocalypse — a simple message — is strangely seductive and exciting.

Once again, on climate, the less intoxicating and more cheeringly mundane reality is that human beings are ingeniously adaptive. We’ll find a way through if we all keep our heads.


The significance of this report is that Iain Martin is a mainstream journalist and commentator, with a weekly column for The Times.

Maybe the worm is starting to turn!

  1. C Lynch permalink
    August 11, 2020 11:00 am

    I think the penny is beginning to drop with a minority of old school journalists. By old school I mean sceptical and enquiring as opposed to activists pretending to be journalists.

  2. August 11, 2020 11:02 am

    Reblogged this on WeatherAction News and commented:
    We can but hope this trend away from alarmism continues, but all it takes is a hurricane for the loonies to come out of the woodwork again and drown out any sain voices.

  3. Thomas Carr permalink
    August 11, 2020 11:24 am

    Douglas Ross , the new leader of the Scottish Conservatives writing in the S. Telegraph yesterday in favour of maintaining the Union said….
    “Next year Glasgow will host the UN International Climate Change Conference , at which global leaders will meet to debate new targets to stop potentially catastrophic change from wrecking our world. Here is a perfect way to show the value of our Union”.
    Shall I write to his agent with a copy of Iain Martin’s article alerting him to the impending pratfall ?

    • Mike Jackson permalink
      August 11, 2020 1:28 pm

      I think you should. Send him a copy of Shellenberger’s book as well and suggest he take a few lessons from people who haven’t been drinking the koolaid. If he’s looking for somebody local, Tony Trewavas would be a good start.

      • Thomas Carr permalink
        August 11, 2020 2:53 pm

        It’s early days for the new leader so book reading may be hard work.I will follow up your suggestion about Tony Trewavas when I have checked his stance. Thanks Mike.

      • Thomas Carr permalink
        August 12, 2020 4:35 pm

        Mike, I wrote to Douglas Ross and referred him to Prof. Trewavas submission to the Select Committee in 2013 as well as the Martin article.

  4. August 11, 2020 1:26 pm

    I think that the climate movement is really an anti fossil fuel movement with the climate just the cooked up rationale for it. This why debating climate science goes nowhere.

  5. Broadlands permalink
    August 11, 2020 2:29 pm

    “But what may make the biggest difference to the debate is population decline.”

    With respect to humanity’s increasing use of fossil fuels for energy, this is a dilemma that has been discussed in a small paper published in 1987: “Carbon Dioxide and People” by Newell and Marcus…

    The dilemma is how to address it and deal with it without destroying economies and our way of life. Not an easy problem to face head on. But, it seems clear that carefully planned adaptation coupled with infrastructure innovation is the only viable solution, not headlong rapid mitigation toward an impossible goal of zero or net-zero CO2 emissions.

  6. August 11, 2020 4:35 pm

    Yes. The Title is right. I was brought up as a presbyterian (NOT Fundamental, fortunately). I can well imagine Greta pontificating up there in one of those huge and impressive pulpits which formed the architecture of those strong protestant churches.
    Incidentally I recall my brother coming home from church one Sunday and announcing to all with conviction that “Mummy was the root of all evil”😱

    The trappings and behaviour of the alarmist gang does very closely resemble those of most (not all) religious movements. All seem to have some form of dire warning involved with often dubious complex solutions to avoid them.

  7. tim leeney permalink
    August 11, 2020 4:44 pm

    What is a “well-designed” carbon tax, I wonder?

    • Barbara permalink
      August 11, 2020 5:24 pm

      Good question!

  8. Bertie permalink
    August 11, 2020 7:28 pm

    I wish that this country (UK) had a declining population instead of 4,000 illegal immigrants arriving in a period of 7 months!

  9. August 11, 2020 7:45 pm

    There was a children’s crusade started in Germany during the 13th century, when a small boy managed to persuade his parents, then the parents of countless other children to allow their offspring to follow him on a crusade across Europe, to the Holy Land, They picked up vast numbers of other people’s children enroute through other countries, before eventually reaching the Mediterranean coast.

    Here, they persuaded some Turkish sailors to transport them on the final leg of their journey across the Med. However, these were no mere sailors, but pirates, who instead of transporting the little dears to the Holy Land, took them to North Africa and sold them to Moroccan slave traders. They were never seen nor heard of again.

    The following century, a teenage girl from Orleans in a northern France persuaded an army of her fellow countrymen to rise up against the English. As the flames began toasting her feet and ankles, Joan Of Arc the ‘Maid of Orleans’ must have at last realised that this was not going to end as planned either.

    Indeed, whenever adults allow children to take the lead, it does not generally end well.

  10. August 11, 2020 10:03 pm

    “I am not someone who denies that protecting the environment is important. Cleaner air is required … there are undoubted upsides and lessons to be learned about cleaner air in cities”.
    Apparently Iain Martin thinks climate change™ mitigation measures are about air quality and air pollution.

    • Bertie permalink
      August 12, 2020 6:07 pm

      Unfortunately, that is the general perception.

  11. Coeur de Lion permalink
    August 12, 2020 8:25 am

    Look, I need a polar bear suit for a pantomime I‘m in. There should be plenty going begging.

  12. cajwbroomhill permalink
    August 14, 2020 10:19 pm

    The UK’s greenhouse gas output as a proporton of the Earth’s being negligible,; we should end all participationin the wildgoose chase of zero carbon and save resourcesfor useful purposes.
    That is what China, India and so many more nations are sensibly doing, rather than pouring money down the drain.

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