New York Times marquee climate columnist David Wallace-Wells asked on Jan. 18 “Is Peak Climate Alarmism Behind Us?” What? Are we going to stop scaremongering and start having a serious debate? Heck no. The piece turned out to be an interview with “Clare Farrell, a co-founder of XR [Extinction Rebellion], and Alanna Byrne, who coordinates its press team” about their retreat from tactics that alienate normal people. And the thesis was that their lawbreaking had moved the “Overton Window”, a trendy term for the topics that are part of mainstream debate, so far in the radical panicky peak climate alarmist direction that they could now stop annoying people and start persuading them. Which they had already done so the politicians now had to act. But they won’t so ER must bypass them again by annoying people. Got it?
Yes, the interviewer is the same David Wallace-Wells who produced a New York magazine article “The Uninhabitable Earth”, recently summarized by a would-be sane Democrat as being too loopy even by Democrat standards:
“the subhead said: ‘Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.’ No one in liberal Democratic circles seemed even slightly fazed by the level of rhetoric. While a number of climate scientists pointed out that Wallace-Wells departed in many places from established findings and deceptively focused on only the worst possible outcomes, the general effect of his work was to raise the profile of climate catastrophism among the general public. As Wallace-Wells repeatedly noted, no matter how much you think you know, it’s ‘worse than you think’. It was time to contemplate ‘the prospect of our own annihilation’.”
So the likelihood that he thinks it’s time to stop panicking isn’t very great. And indeed he does not. Rather, he thinks everyone is now panicking so we’re past the peak and onto a new one.
In one of his softball questions to these lawbreaking maniacs, he burbled that:
“In part because of the radical commitments of activists in particular, we also now have a much more open space for people to express concern or engage on climate issues without having to lie down in front of S.U.V.s, glue themselves to banks or throw paint in museums.”
Why not ask for an autograph while you’re at it? Byrne’s response was a curious mix of triumphant and frustrated:
“We know from polling that people across the U.K. are terrified of the climate crisis, but the reality is that those people aren’t showing up – they’re not coming out on the street. So I think we have to say to ourselves, if people aren’t going to come and put their arm in a lock or glue themselves to something, how do we create a space where people can show up?”
Wallace responded with another lob:
“So your message to Parliament is, basically: There are many more people who have much greater demands on climate than you might think. Is that right?”
To which she replied yes but democracy is no use:
“Completely. But in addition to pushing that Overton window about what’s a reasonable ask of a political system, there’s also pushing the conversation about the fact that the systematic problems of our politics as it is set up today. Our politics is completely incapable of doing anything about these problems in a short space of time, which is when it needs to happen.”
Proving the cliché that any time a media outlet puts a question in a headline the answer is “No”. And raising the question whether ER secretly thinks Guy Fawkes was on to something.
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