Catastrophes are not for drama queens

Global warming is real, but it is not an excuse for misanthropes to voice their hatred of humanity.

The ‘end of the world’ in the 1980’s

The debate about global warming parallels the debate about nuclear catastrophe. We are as close as we ever were to catastrophe, to the danger of bio-warfare, chemical warfare and nuclear warfare. To this we have now added cyber-warfare. And despite this danger CND is utterly invisible. Has the danger disappeared? It has not. How can we explain CND’s disappearance? I asked my daughter about CND. She had never heard of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and she is an activist.

In the 1980’s anyone who claimed nuclear war was survivable was shouted down; was screamed at by weeping militants, people who wept for generations of mutant, starving children. The ones you see all around you. Where are those middle class activists now? They are looking fondly at albums of marches and their camps around missile sites, as if it were all just an old hobby.

Where are those camps now? Has the danger passed? It has not.

And so a child with Asperger’s, panicking humanities and arts graduates, emotional exhibitionists, wannabee saints, pus sucking martyrs, self-flagellating puritans, and misanthropes of all kinds now claim that global warming is out of control and that we are already dead. Really? Too late. Don’t bother.

Grotesquely, they embrace their beloved catastrophe which, in reality, let’s get real, is, in part, the catastrophe of their own psyche. That sweet longing for doomsday.

On the other hand, just like the dangers of nuclear power and other forms of warfare, global warming is real.

On the other hand, just like the dangers of nuclear power and other forms of warfare, global warming is real. The best estimates are that global temperatures will go up by 6 degrees by the end of the century and the sea levels increase to 5 metres and that impoverished low lying nations like Bangladesh, with has a population of 161 million crammed into a river delta, will see terrible suffering.

And then there are the scientists who are more pessimistic, but even their pessimism seems to be just about within the limits of human tolerance.

Hundreds of millions of people will be displaced, tens of millions will suffer terribly and millions will die. That’s bad enough.

Meanwhile, the North West Passage opens and Greenland opens up and the north of Russia melts into arable land. The prospect of capitalism’s Lebensraum growing makes corporations rub their hands.

And then, one step beyond, there are the philosophers of ecology. They remind me of Peter Singer. Outwardly progressive, Peter Singer argues for animal rights, but in doing so he also argues that severely handicapped infants should be euthanased. In the end his ‘enlightened’ ideas are a sinister form of social Darwinism.

The philosophers of Deep Ecology who argue not for the survival of humanity, but for the survival of ‘systems’ and make grand unquestionable generalisations with hysterical gravitas to support their arguments for the end of civilisation, for the death of the cities and, even, for the death of most of humanity are frankly – worse than fascists. To put into practice the ideas of some of these philosophers and make the earth more ‘sustainable’ would make you worse than 10,000 mass murderers.

The enemies of humanity are the self-declared enemies of humanity. They are misanthropes. People haters. They are the people who see other people as a plague on the planet. They are like those tourists who have a little more money to spend, going to Venice to a palazzo and then complaining about all the tourists .

As a human being I must consider these ecologists to be my deadly enemy. They are your enemy too.

They don’t generate a feeling of constructive engagement, but of nihilistic outrage.

In life there is one lesson we must learn in order to succeed and that is not inaction, it is action. If you want to change something you must act. The climate change activists who frighten billions of people with the prospect of the end of the earth do immense psychological damage in their attempts to manipulate people into accepting their visions of a future; they don’t generate a feeling of constructive engagement, but of nihilistic outrage.

The mentally unbalanced who glue themselves to trains and wear billboards, saying the world is ending did much the same in the 1980’s when it came to the prospect of nuclear war. Doomsday cultists are always dangerous people, from Jim Jones to the survivalists. Even when they are partly right.

The people who were partly right about nuclear war used it as a form of social catharsis. The problem continues, but they felt better after they did their primal screaming. It makes you suspicious. What was the purpose of those protests. Was it just to scream and feel better?

Doomsday fantasists are always dangerous people, from Jim Jones to the survivalists. Even when they are partly right.

Doris Lessing wrote a book about survival in a nuclear holocaust. The Swiss government made it the law that every house had to be built with a proper nuclear bunker under it. Nuclear war was eminently survivable and not everyone was going to die. The dangers of nuclear fallout were vastly exaggerated, the dangers were real, but also vastly exaggerated. We were not all going to die.

And global warming is eminently survivable too. By almost everyone. And not only should we be taking action to prevent it continuing and worsening, but we should also be preparing for the fact that, to some greater or lesser extent it will happen. We should not have all our eggs in the basket of prevention. We should be preparing for the reality of it as we would prepare for a pandemic after our experience of COVID.

To catastrophise so that that you whip the the younger generation into a frenzy of fear and despair is an evil act committed by evil people. It is enough that global warming is real without it being the opportunity for people with damaged psyches to allow themselves the indulgence of emoting about it and project their own unpleasant, if pitiful, inner bipolarity onto the external world. For the middle class global warming is the emotional equivalent of the death of Princess Diana.

Phil Hall

Phil Hall is a university lecturer. He is a committed socialist and humanitarian. Phil was born in South Africa where his parents were in the ANC. There, his mother was imprisoned and his father was the first journalist from a national paper to be banned. Phil grew up in East Africa and settled in Kingston-upon-Thames. He has also lived and worked in the Ukraine, Spain, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. Phil has blogged for the Guardian, the Morning Star and several other publications and he has written stories for The London Magazine. He started Ars Notoria in May 2020.