The 32-Step Lifecycle Of Climate Alarms

As further evidence of divine sense of humor, Arctic sea ice extent is back to average exactly as new research indicates much of the recent decline is “not a direct result of global warming“.

One may be forgiven to think that reports about the opening up of most of the Arctic to ice-free summer navigation might have been premature.

Hasn’t this script been read to us before? Yes it has: about the disappearing snows of Kilimanjaro, the terrifying future hurricane seasons in the North Atlantic, the upcoming extinction of (often, drowning) polar bears, the slowing down to a crawl of the Gulf Stream, the warming-sea death of coral reefs.

But there is no need to be fooled any longer. Just keep yourself aware of the 32-step lifecycle of a climate alarm, especially if linked about Anthropogenic Global Warming (as they all nowadays are):

  1. Researchers make a barely-tamed if not completely wild claim in a scientific journal: if human GHG emissions were to continue apace, there could be dire consequences to “whatever”
  2. The claim appears in a press release by the lead author’s institution, alongside even wilder claims that were not scientifically printable but are spread around anyway
  3. Most major (and minor) news media engage in churnalism, i.e. they repeat the press release as-is with little consideration for critical thinking, just in case it may ruin the story
  4. Other editors decide the alleged consequences are not dire enough and order a further spicing up of the story
  5. George Monbiot tells us in his blog how bad he feels about “whatever”, with the help of a relevant anecdote possibly involving flowers
  6. On the basis of the above, environmental movements issue more press releases, and e-mail campaigns materialize at once, raising the alarm about “whatever” on the basis of (of course!) the “latest scientific research”
  7. The environmentalists’ press releases are fed to the newsmedia to pummel the public with another salvo of alarmism
  8. The claims percolate through the web and reach alarmist blogs. Once again, the story is repeated with not a hint of reasoning and not a shadow of doubt
  9. People start speculating how could skeptics ever live in the knowledge that “whatever” is going to be destroyed by AGW
  10. More serious places like the Nature blogs, the BBC Science News pages and NationalGeographic.com can’t help publishing about the latest claims, substituting critical thinking for a barrage of links to external, strictly-alarmist sites
  11. Suddenly, the news get populated of fear-inducing “evidence” that confirm the original claim was way too tame, and “things are worse than we thought”. Articles are accompanied by pictures of polar bears
  12. Wikipedia’s entries about “whatever” and climate change are updated
  13. An article by Bill McKibben is printed in well-known generalist magazines describing exactly how bad things are going to be for “whatever”, in case we don’t all mend our ways. News-gathered “evidence” is included, explaining that in the future we will hear “more of the same” kind of reporting
  14. In due course, people including scientists interested in discovering what is real about climate change and what is not, they start to notice that the alarms and claims are not based on strong scientific evidence, at least not as strong as claimed
  15. Somebody posts a blog or comment highlighting how, tucked away in the original article’s and press release’s full texts and unbeknownst to most churnalists and alarmist bloggers, there were very clear caveats, indicating: (a) results as “preliminary”, (b) data as “insufficient” and (c) “more studies” as “needed”
  16. These doubts percolate through the web and reach skeptical blogs, where they are repeated in a storm of criticism against the alarmists and (alas!) the original researchers themselves
  17. James Delingpole posts a blog making fun of George Monbiot
  18. Many alarmist blogs reply to any kind of doubt by denouncing a giant conspiracy by evil fossil-fuel corporations paying tens of millions of dollars to fund skeptical blogs
  19. Unanswered, doubts remain
  20. Miraculously, a new post in “Skeptical Science” demonstrates how anything (anything!) a skeptic ever thinks is wrong, as shown in the published literature
  21. A blog appears on RealClimate rebutting the doubts with rather unwise statements that, taken literally, might be used to undermine AGW alarmism
  22. Where the best scientists are involved, a new scientific paper gets published, highlighting which issues are most important to figure out, and asking for more funding as results are preliminary, data is insufficient and more studies are needed
  23. For some reason, the now-established fact that the original claims have been shown incorrect and/or premature does not appear in the news media and alarmist blogs (“climategate” notwithstanding)
  24. On DotEarth, Andrew Revkin posts a blog stating that things are not as clear-cut as they seem, skeptics and believers are both wrong, but AGW is real nevertheless and remains so independently from the claims about “whatever”
  25. Joe Romm preaches again to the converted, wondering aloud why Revkin is not toeing the alarmist line
  26. A couple of years pass…the “evidence” reported by the news disappear as all data indicate a return to “average conditions”
  27. Vicky Pope tells the media that we should not be looking for climate evidence in a record covering just a few years
  28. Nobody has the courage to publish an article or blog saying how sorry they are about having raised a demonstrably baseless alarm
  29. The online alarmist debate ignores that all and oscillates between “how can skeptics face the risk of the destruction of ‘whatever’ being right, and they wrong?” and “when can we have our climate dictatorship please”
  30. Wikipedia’s entries about “whatever” and climate change are not updated
  31. In the meanwhile, due to the law of diminishing returns and the fact that nobody can see any clear AGW climatic effect anywhere, the general public grows a little more weary of alarmism
  32. It’s time for a new article where researchers make a barely-tamed if not completely wild claim in a scientific journal: if human GHG emissions were to continue apace, there could be dire consequences to “whatever else”

In all likelihood, the above is happening right now about ocean acidification. Somebody, please make a reality TV show out of this comedy.