It might seem snide of us to reuse this tagline borrowed from Arthur Dent whenever we report on yet another climate disaster prediction story. Sure, people might say, the alarmists are alarmed, but not to that extent. Well, we beg to differ. For instance this headline: “‘Collapse of Civilisation is the Most Likely Outcome’: Top Climate Scientists”. Most likely. Experts say. World ends. And if others who are concerned about the possible impacts of human action on climate but want the discussion to stay within reasonable bounds don’t push back, they are complicit in the spread of this mind-numbing pseudo-certain panic.
The world-ends story in question starts by invoking “Australia’s top climate scientist”. Without explaining how this person got that title and from whom. You’d get argument, presumably, about who the greatest hockey player, mathematician, musician or grandmaster ever was. A reasonable person might say it’s possible to compare strengths but not give an absolute answer. But some journalist you never heard of says “Australia’s top climate scientist” and people go uh huh, cool, waddidy say?
Apparently he, and it’s Will Steffens, an emeritus professor, in case you didn’t have your world’s best climate scientist cards handy, told Voice of Action, which bills itself as “the newspaper for the working classes” that “we are already deep into the trajectory towards collapse” of civilisation and, the paper added, it “may now be inevitable because 9 of the 15 known global climate tipping points that regulate the state of the planet have been activated.”
Again note the phrase “known global climate tipping points”. And later we get not just a “less habitable “Hothouse Earth” climate, regardless of whether we reduced emissions” but “Evidence shows we will also lose control of the tipping points for the Amazon rainforest, the West Antarctic ice sheet, and the Greenland ice sheet in much less time than it’s going to take us to get to net zero emissions, Steffen says.” Ah yes. Evidence shows. And experts say.
You want experts? We got experts: “leading Stanford University biologists, who were first to reveal that we are already experiencing the sixth mass extinction on Earth, released new research this week showing species extinctions are accelerating in an unprecedented manner.” And “Steffen, along with some of the world’s most eminent climate scientists, laid out our predicament in the starkest possible terms in a piece for the journal Nature at the end of last year.” So brushing aside “the notoriously conservative United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” and its lukewarm predictions of blazing catastrophe, we get “Professor Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director emeritus and founder of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, believes if we go much above 2°C we will quickly get to 4°C anyway because of the tipping points and feedbacks, which would spell the end of human civilisation.”
If you suspect this piece of being an outlier, consider the recent BBC primer video “Why CO2 matters for climate change” which admits CO2 feeds plants before claiming it “acts like the glass in a greenhouse” or we’d all freeze and then insists that “the natural world works on an incredibly delicate balance”. There’s the key assumption: Nature is fragile and once we do something dumb and dirty, it’s all over. It’s because “reputable” journalistic sources accept this “delicate balance” claim that they cannot see through, and instead endorse, all these hysterical claims that one misstep and it’s all over, the thing is smashed, we’ve tipped over the tipping points and we… are… all… going… to… die.