Catatonis Petrificatum : Paralysing Fear

Image Credit : Hadley Centre, UK Meteorological Office

Catatonis Petrificatum : Paralysing Fear
Turned to Stone by the News on Climate Change
by Jo Abbess
17th April 2008

Sir Nicholas Stern’s opinions as reported today in the British and Australian Press : The Financial Times, The Independent and others could genuinely shock you rigid if you understood their implications.

Is it right for the Media to print this kind of disastrous truth ? Is it right to alarm people with news of catastrophe ? Should we be alarmed by the Press ?

Since by all reasonable accounts we’re staring into the jaws of a massive crisis monster, yes, I think we should be allowed to read the facts and feel the fear.

Self-preservation is only possible when you have awareness of your environment. Look at the Environment now, and think through the implied risks.…

Stern takes bleaker view on warming By Fiona Harvey and Jim Pickard Published : April 17 2008

Climate expert Stern ‘underestimated problem’ : April 17, 2008

Stern warns that climate change is far worse than 2006 estimate…

Climate expert says he underestimated threat : Wed Apr 16, 2008…

Stern review author paints bleaker picture on climate change,25197,235535…

Stern ‘underestimated’ climate problem

Some people continue to advise emotional caution : Professor Mike Hulme for one :-….

Dominic Lawson: As they tackle climate change, governments are starving the people they set out to help Friday, 11 April 2008 “There are many people – including some scientists – who present climate change as an existential threat to the planet and to human civilisation. That is not what the science itself is telling us.”

Phil Thornhill of the Campaign against Climate Change has said (and he said it in public, and there were thousands who heard him say it, so he can’t deny it) :-

“What we need is more screaming panic !”

And yet, as warnings accumulate, a certain proportion of civil society urge us to remain calm. Certain journalists seem to want to best each other in pronouncing warnings “alarmist”. Trying to appear the most mature in a bunch of scandal-hungry schoolboys seems somewhat at odds with their normal behaviour. If you smell a rat, you could well be on the money.

Should we be more circumspect in our reporting of the unfolding Climate Change disaster ?…

Comment: Climate apocalypse when? : 17 November 2007 : Michael Hanlon : Magazine issue 2630 Disastrous images of climate change are everywhere. Such images are increasingly used to portray a global catastrophe that is not just imminent but happening now. The narrative is compelling… There is a big problem here…the effects of climate change mostly haven’t happened yet …Reporters shouldn’t [write] silly scare stories that can be blown away by the slightest breeze of scepticism.”

There seems to be some success in delivering Soma to the people.

The Populace remain transfixed by Advertising and Terror-Vision, relaying an underlying feeling of security to those observing war zones from the comfort of their living rooms, and showing images of the satisfaction of material consumption.

Bread and circus might be failing in some countries as a policy, as drought and mismanagement are causing crop failures, and trade issues, but not in the comfortable United Kingdom.

A few flagrantly flout the tone of serene control, raising their hands, voices, writing, placards, to shout about the risks we are facing from major Climate chaos.

We get beaten to the floor by sceptics, skeptics, deniers, denialists, discussionists, delayers, obstructionists. Their message is : “There’s no need to panic. We don’t believe it.”

If only it were possible to wave a magic wand for Global Warming to be stopped in its tracks. “Expecto Petronum !” Harry Potter shouts to cast a spell to freeze the attack of his enemies.

The only emotions being roused currently seem to be from those denying Global Warming. But the risks of Global Warming should ellicit attention, even a certain level of heightened fear from all of us.

The recent science is genuinely awful. And this week’s European Geology Science conference in Vienna, Austria raises the bar on predictions from the IPCC’s 20 or 70 centimetres, to a much more damaging 80 to 150 centimetres by the year 2100.

Plus the figures on Global Land Temperatures for March and April 2008 are beginning to look like the entrance to Hell.

We could be in for six degrees of Global Warming, possibly in less than 200 years :-

“Target Atmospheric CO2: Where Should Humanity Aim ? Paleoclimate data show that climate sensitivity is ~3°C for doubled CO2, including only fast feedback processes. Equilibrium sensitivity, including slower surface albedo feedbacks, is ~6°C for doubled CO2 for the range of climate states between glacial conditions and icefree Antarctica…If humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm. An initial 350 ppm CO2 target may be achievable by phasing out coal use except where CO2 is captured and adopting agricultural and forestry practices that sequester carbon. If the present overshoot of this target CO2 is not brief, there is a possibility of seeding irreversible catastrophic effects.”

You can expect to be petrified. But don’t let it scare you into catatonia. Your response is crucial to managing the problems of global Climate Change.

Looking at it can make you afraid. But you need to look at it. Face your fears, and then do something about it.

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