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Thursday, December 31, 2020

'Twas Covid killed global warming

To understand why people doubt global warming, look at how the press covers Covid


A t the end of the original King Kong movie, one of the characters says “Oh, no, it wasn't the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the beast”, meaning that the Big Guy's problems illustrated the risks of becoming emotionally attached to the blonde chick instead of eating her as he was supposed to.

Nowadays, we're more likely to say “ ’Twas Disney killed Beauty and the Beast.” In that movie, Belle, being very smart, suddenly realized she'd just made a ghastly mistake when the Beast to whom she became emotionally attached suddenly changed from a charming muscular fellow into a stringy-haired, uncoordinated hippie the instant he found out.*

Global warming met the same fate: activists got emotionally attached to it, and it now finds itself on top of a virtual Empire State Building—or changed into something nobody wants.

The press bears some of the blame, long advocating an emotionalist approach to terrorize and intimidate people into believing in a “climate crisis.” If they'd used a dispassionate examination of the evidence, it might have worked better, or at least we would have known the truth sooner.

They're not giving up: even today the UK Guardian has an article talking about how the 'vid is a model for climate. People were terrified of Covid, and people made up so many facts about it that the Guardian reckons it's a great model for climate. They write:

"We saw record-breaking wildfires engulf the west coast of the US, a record number of powerful Atlantic storms, the Arctic ice failing to freeze in late October and deadly floods hitting countries from Italy to Indonesia."

Never mind that even Californians know those “record breaking wildfires” were caused by forest mismanagement. The Arctic ice melting, we now know, was due mainly to a massive magma plume under Greenland. As for Atlantic storms, that admittedly is a crisis: people are asking “Whatever happened to all those powerful Atlantic storms we used to get?”

The Graun and its readers played an important role in putting climatology in a comorbid state: when you have to call your opponents deniers instead of presenting the facts, it's a tacit admission that you haven't got any. You only get one shot with a rhetorical weapon: now everyone is calling everyone else a denier. We now have Covid deniers, gender deniers, and election deniers.

Conservatives, having grown accustomed to being called Nazis, naturally mistook being called deniers as being equated to Nazis. So they totally missed its true import. Sliming is a way of corralling group hate to force people to pretend to agree with you. It is the strategy of those who are content to get people to pretend to believe something instead of spending the effort to convince them.

Unfortunately, the more you try to force people to speak and think a certain way, the more they will assume the reason you have to shove it down their throats is that it's a lie, and they'll assume that the opposite, whatever it is, is the truth. This strategy didn't work for Covid, and it won't work for climate. Some people will pretend to agree, some will just get bored, and the rest will start speculating about your true motivation. It's such a well understood principle we must assume the real goal is to create doubt.

Why would Big Tweet take the position that their fact-checkers have the requisite grasp of science to identify errors in what people are saying about the 'vid? The idea of Twitter being able to decide scientific truth is so preposterous that it could only be an attempt to create a vast ocean of doubters. It worked: we now have an army of extreme skeptics who think the whole thing, including the virus itself, was a fraud.

Thanks in part to the misinformation in the press, climatology is now in such disrepute that it is regarded a game played by truant teenagers on Instagram. Using terror and misinformation to convince people always backfires because sooner or later something more terrifying always comes along. The human brain is only capable of being afraid of one thing at a time. When our ancestors found themselves being chased by sabre-toothed tigers, they temporarily lost their fear of vicious bloodthirsty squirrels).

The problem with global warming was that it was impossible to prove you could die from it, and nobody could actually feel the one degree rise in temperature. In fact, the evidence seemed to show that it would make plants grow better and cause fewer people to die of exposure. So when a new crisis came along that had people actually, literally dying, GW found itself on a ventilator.

People used to believe that whatever is in the papers is true. They now realize that ninety-nine percent of it is wrong, but no one knows which ninety-nine percent.


* They continued according to the original script to avoid traumatizing the children, but it was clear to any adult watching that this fairy tale had a fatal flaw.


dec 31 2020, 5:55 am. edited for brevity jan 01 2021, 4:30 am


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