Skepticism about science and medicine

In search of disinterested science

Psychological toll of climate-science belief

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2015/07/11

Mountainmere  just drew our attention to the devastating psychological impact of belief in human-caused climate change.

Esquire carried (7 July) a story by John Richardson, “When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job: Among many climate scientists, gloom has set in. Things are worse than we think, but they can’t really talk about it” — they are afraid to talk about it because of “the relentless campaign against them” in which the poor folk are labeled “alarmist”. (The heartbreaking Richardson story was picked up in a number of places, for instance “Climate Scientists Are Dealing with Psychological Problems”  as well as the Judith Curry blog that mountainmere had cited, “Pre-traumatic stress syndrome: climate scientists speak out”.)
If climate “scientists” want to know what a relentless campaign really looks like, they should examine the treatment meted out to those “denialists” who draw attention to the lack of evidence to support the hypothesis of human-caused global warming.

Richardson’s featured climate-scientist victim, Jason Box, is a stereotypical ultra-environmentalist: an American who has worked for Greenpeace, demonstrated at the White House, claimed that sea levels would rise inevitably by 70 feet in the next few centuries, and “escaped America’s culture of climate-change denial” by moving from Ohio to Denmark. A report of methane seeping into Arctic sea-water so terrified Box that he immediately tweeted “If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we’re f’d”, which naturally brought a flurry of headlines.
Box looks at the worst, and among the least likely, of the various scenarios generated by the computer models used by climate “scientists” — models that have been demonstrably wrong for the last 15-18 years or so during which there has been no warming while carbon dioxide levels have continued to rise; models that fail to account for the 1940s-to-1970s period when global temperatures were actually decreasing while carbon-dioxide levels were steadily rising.
Box thinks “most scientists must be burying overt recognition of the awful truths of climate change in a protective layer of denial (not the same kind of denial coming from conservatives, of course). I’m still amazed how few climatologists have taken an advocacy message to the streets, demonstrating for some policy action.”

Richardson’s story is full of errors, notably that “warming is tracking the rise of greenhouse gases exactly as their models predicted”. No. The models have not predicted the empirical fact that global temperatures have been stable rather than rising since about 2000; some reports even have it as a cooling rather than a slowing or halt in global average temperature:;;;;

Richardson describes the terrible stress that climate scientists are under for bringing their message of lack of hope: “targets of an unrelenting and well-organized attack that includes death threats, summonses from a hostile Congress, attempts to get them fired, legal harassment, and intrusive discovery demands so severe they had to start their own legal-defense fund, all amplified by a relentless propaganda campaign nakedly financed by the fossil-fuel companies”.
It’s just as well that they can continue to do their depressing work with the help of large grants and that any attempts to have them fired went nowhere; and that the “intrusive discovery demands” were no more than to ask for the raw data on which Michael Mann conjured his alarmist “hockey-stick” graph of unprecedented rate of warming — a graph that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change dropped from its Reports because it was shown to be not a valid reorientation of the data. Professional scientific journals have increasingly being demanding that all data on which articles are based need to be made publicly available; it is not clear to me why climate “science” should be exempt. The only reason to keep data secret is to avoid that others could show that published analyses are flawed.
And those poor climate scientists suffered from having their e-mails hacked, revealing that they were deliberately fudging the evidence. (Google “Climategate” for details about that.)

So, anyway, those poor activist climate “scientists” are suffering gloom, sadness, fear, anger; “Dr. Lise Van Susteren, a practicing psychiatrist and graduate of Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth slide-show training, calls this ‘pretraumatic’ stress.” Some are retreating off the grid to await the catastrophe. “No one has experienced that hostility more vividly than Michael Mann”, who barley manages to keep going as a well-paid tenured full professor at Penn State.

I urge you to read Richardson’s full story, especially the later parts that describe all the suffering that climate scientists endure.

For yet more insight, go to Judith Curry’s earlier blog post, “Pre-traumatic stress syndrome: Climate trauma survival tips”  which informs, among other things, about “the relatively new field of psychology of global warming”; followed by Curry’s sensible deconstruction of climate-change hysteria.

The unfortunate pre-traumatically stressed climate-“science” activists suffer quite unnecessarily. I recommend resort to the school of psychology, “rational-emotive therapy”, associated with the name of Albert Ellis; see his A New Guide to Rational Living, or Help yourself to happiness through rational self-counseling by Macie C. Maultsby, an acolyte of Ellis.
The essence of this approach is to list in writing one’s depressing thoughts, and then the emotions they arouse. Merely writing these down tends to reveal how out of all proportion the emotions are. Then, the really important part, annotate those depressing thoughts with the actual evidence.
With climate “scientists”, this should bring immediate relief, since all their depression arises only from computer models, whereas reality demonstrates that global warming is the result of the Earth recovering from the last Ice Age and that carbon dioxide has no appreciable effect, as proven by the periods from the 1940s to the 1970s and again since 2000, when “carbon” was being emitted relentlessly but Earth warmed not at all or even cooled.



10 Responses to “Psychological toll of climate-science belief”

  1. Mark said

    It’s pretty infuriating to see people who are well within the mainstream try to act like they are oppressed.


  2. mo79uk said

    I guess part of the problem is that the truth is a little boring. HCCC fires up the imagination to inspire activity and generate income, while safeguarding against natural adverse weather events seems pedestrian.

    I think, in general, there’s a perverse love for panic (look at the daily headlines), whether warranted or not, as it makes life seem interesting.


  3. Frank said

    “Climate Change: it started as an ideology, became a religion, now it’s a neurosis. It’s never had much to do with science.”


  4. Mark said

    Check it out, Henry:


  5. anonymous said

    So, it turns out that we can be be harmed not only by other people but also by our own inner world.
    Homo homini lupus, and we all carry a wolf inside our psyche, a wolf that can harm others and ourselves.
    Better tame that stupid wolf.

    Much more important than calculus, or algebra, or a government funding for a laboratory is to learn to live with yourself, so that you don’t pose a threat to anybody, including yourself.

    Know thyself!

    And don’t play games!


  6. Frank said

    A bit off topic, but a fascinating — and very rare — article on how scientists twist themselves into psychological knots in order to “sell” wholly fabricated scientific “facts”:


    • Henry Bauer said

      Frank, thanks. A highly important but almost totally neglected aspect of “science” is the relationship between facts, observations, results of experiments, and how they are interpreted; and the further and even larger gap between insider views and what the media disseminate.
      Those gaps are reasons why so much public-media “science” is misleading.


  7. Frank said

    Another fascinating post from Judith Curry: “How scientists fool themselves – and how they can stop”


  8. Frank said

    From Judith Curry: “Terry Root is the latest climate scientist with pre-traumatic stress syndrome.”

    “I’d always thought that facts and the truth would win out; then I realized that wasn’t the case,” Root says.


    • Henry Bauer said


      We “denialists” have exactly the same disillusionment:
      “I’d always thought that facts and the truth would win out; then I realized that wasn’t the case”

      Pre-traumatic stress syndrome is a very nice inisght and neologism. Reminds me of my friend who coined “inferiority simplex” for people who feel persistently inferior — and really are


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