Climate Derangement Syndrome
It’s the hysteria about climate change that poses the greatest threat to humanity.
CHIEF POLITICAL WRITER
Climate change is going to be worse than the Holocaust. It will give rise to a global epidemic of gang rape. There’ll be murder, war, slaughter. Your friends will die. Your children, too. The carbon-fuelled heating of the planet will bring ‘human life as we know it’ crashing to a violent, fiery end. It will be nothing less than doomsday.
These are just some of the hysterical claims that have been made in the discussion around COP26. As world leaders private-jetted their way to Glasgow for the latest UN gabfest on how to save the planet from mankind’s dirt, hubris and avarice, there was a severe outbreak of Climate Derangement Syndrome. Prime ministers, bishops, princes and noisy greens all tried to outdo each other with their apocalyptic warnings. It has been a grim competition of catastrophes, an orgy of hyperbolic prophecies that wouldn’t look out of place in the Book of Revelation.
It all kicked off months before COP26 opened. When the IPCC published its latest report in August, delirious scribes across the Western world were reaching for their thesauruses in order that they might drive home to dim readers just how nightmarish the future promises to be. It’s ‘code red!’ for humanity, they all insisted, uniformly. If we don’t get a handle on carbon emissions soon, ‘our future climate could well become some kind of hell on Earth’, said Tim Palmer of Oxford University. The planet is on fire and it’s our fault – we’re ‘guilty as hell’, declared the Guardian, coming off like a crackpot millenarian preacher. Every unpleasant weather event was laid at the feet of dastardly mankind. ‘With raging wildfires, floods and pandemics, it seems like End Times – and it’s our own damned fault’, said one writer.
This feverish holding-up of the IPCC report as some kind of God-like indictment of mankind set the stage for the derangement we have seen around COP26. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the supposed moral anchor of the nation, set the tone with his perverse insistence that the consequences of climate change will overshadow even the greatest crime in history – the Holocaust. It will be a genocide ‘on an infinitely greater scale’, he said. He has since apologised for this shameful marshalling of the horrors of the Holocaust to the moany middle-class cause of going green.
Boris Johnson, who just a few years ago was writing newspaper columns slamming eco-hysteria, says climate change is a doomsday clock counting down to a ‘detonation that will end human life as we know it’. If we don’t cut carbon emissions, it will soon be ‘too late for our children’, he said, the clear implication being that climate change will gift the next generation a Mad Max-style wasteland in which life will barely be worth living. ‘It’s one minute to midnight’, said Boris. Actually, chirped the Archbishop of Canterbury, ‘the clock has run out’. Make your minds up – is it apocalypse now or apocalypse very soon?
Time has ‘quite literally run out’, said Prince Charles. He says we need to take a ‘war-like footing’ on climate change. Climate change is ‘another form of wartime’ and we may soon have to ration things like air travel, said famed globe-trotter Joanna Lumley. If COP26 fails, it will be a ‘death sentence’ for humankind, said UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres. ‘We’re digging our own graves’, he warned.
Of course it fell to the middle-class death cult Extinction Rebellion to spell out what the globalist elites largely only hint at. Cameron Ford, the viral spokesperson for XR-offshoot Insulate Britain, said in an interview with Owen Jones that climate change will mean running out of food and ‘societal collapse’. And then? ‘You’ll see slaughter. You’ll see rape. You’ll see murder.’ It gets worse, believe it or not. ‘[Our] friends and our siblings and our children – we will lose everything we love.’ Shorter version: everyone will die. Owen Jones made no pushback whatsoever against these lunatic, utterly unscientific claims.
Then it was revealed that XR’s very own Nostradamus – its famously batty co-founder Roger Hallam – has been feverishly predicting the descent of humanity into a barbarous living hell. An unearthed document he wrote last year while he was in jail on suspicion of conspiracy to commit criminal damage, cheerily titled ‘Advice to Young People, as you Face Annihilation’, painted a picture of the future that would give John the Elder a run for his money.
We will see ‘the collapse of our society’, says Hallam. And like all the best mad prophets, he knows exactly what will happen next. ‘A gang of boys will break into your house demanding food. They will see your mother, your sister, your girlfriend, and they will gang rape her on the kitchen table. They will force you to watch, laughing at you. At the end, they will accuse you of enjoying it. They’ll take a cigarette and burn out your eyes with it. You will not be able to see anything again. This is the reality of climate change.’
You have been warned. You’d better start recycling.
It might feel tempting to write off Hallam’s demented prophesising as just another outburst from a man so odd that even the eco-loons of XR have distanced themselves from him. But in truth he is only adding flesh to the bones of the elites’ own Climate Derangement Syndrome. When people like Hallam and Ford foretell slaughter and rape and the burning out of eyes in a future world ravaged to dust by carbon emissions, they’re merely putting pornographic colour to the elite consensus that climate change will be a Holocaust-level event in which millions will die. There isn’t a cigarette paper’s difference between the Archbishop of Canterbury’s prophecy of a climate calamity worse than the Holocaust and Cameron Ford’s millenarian intonements about slaughter, rape and murder. Show me a meaningful distinction between Professor Tim Palmer’s prediction of ‘hell on Earth’ and Roger Hallam’s prison visions of hell on Earth.
We need to talk about this. We need to talk about Climate Derangement Syndrome and how frankly batshit crazy it has become. More to the point, we need to talk about how dangerous this way of thinking is to reason, freedom and the future prosperity of humankind. Indeed, it isn’t climate change that threatens to undo the great gains of human civilisation – it’s the hysteria about climate change.
The first thing to note about Climate Derangement Syndrome, whether it’s coming from the posh road-blockers of Insulate Britain, Clarence House or the Church of England, is that it has nothing whatsoever to do with science. This eco-hysteria single-handedly shatters the myth that contemporary environmentalism is a science-driven movement, merely concerned with acting upon the warnings contained in graphs and models drawn up by climatologists. Show me the piece of scientific research that says a gang of boys will rape your mother if we don’t achieve Net Zero by 2030. Where’s the peer-reviewed study that pinpoints the moment when slaughter, rape and genocide will occur if our governments fail to cut back on fossil fuels?
Of course no such studies exist. These malarial visions of future horrors spring from the realm of fantasy, not science. They are the misanthropic prejudices of the depressed middle classes, not scientific projections. They emerge from the well of existential dread in which the contemporary elites wallow, not from cool, calm modelling. And the truth is that this has long been the case with climate-change alarmism. ‘Science’ is the garb thrown on what in reality is the End Times foreboding of this new millennium’s morally at-sea elites. ‘Climate change’ is the all-encompassing idea of doom through which the Western bourgeoisie expresses its sense of moral, political and economic exhaustion. All the recent talk of doomsday and genocide captures the extent to which the issue of climate change has been catastrophised to an extraordinary degree, how it has been transformed from a perfectly manageable problem into an apocalypse modernity brought upon itself; from a scientific theory about mankind’s impact on the planet into certain, unquestionable proof of the folly of the industrial era; from one challenge among many facing humankind in the 21st century into an indictment of the entire human species. In short, from a technical conundrum into a God-like revelation of the wickedness of greedy, industrious mankind.
Climate Derangement Syndrome is at root a revolt against modernity. It is a reactionary, Romantic, nostalgic cry of angst against the incredible world of production and consumption mankind has created over the past 200 years. This is why some at COP26 openly denounced the Industrial Revolution. First came Greta Thunberg, the prophetess of doom of contemporary environmentalism. She angrily denounced the British government as ‘climate villains’. The UK, she said, is largely responsible for the horrors of climate change – this ‘more or less… started in the UK since that’s where the Industrial Revolution started, [where] we started to burn coal’.
Shamefully, Boris Johnson echoed Greta’s regressive brickbats against the Industrial Revolution. In his COP speech he pointed out that Glasgow was the place where the steam engine, ‘produced by burning coal’, was born. That, he said, was ‘the doomsday machine’ that led us to the dire predicament we find ourselves in now.
Forget tank-topped bumboys or comparing niqabs to letterboxes – this sub-Greta sneering at the Industrial Revolution is without question the most offensive and ridiculous thing Boris has ever said. To hear the elected leader of the UK describe the UK’s extraordinary contributions to industrialisation as the first stirrings of ‘doomsday’ feels genuinely depressing. Brits should not feel ashamed of the Industrial Revolution, as Boris and Greta and eco-hairshirts suggest we should. We should feel immense pride at this radical overhaul of the processes of production and transportation. The Industrial Revolution was arguably the most important event in human history. Its positive impact on life expectancy, knowledge, liberty and equality, not only in the UK but also around the world, is almost incalculable.
It was the Industrial Revolution that dragged the populace away from the brutal, back-breaking serfdom of the land into the mad, teeming cities of London, Manchester, Sheffield, Glasgow. It revolutionised how we worked, how we lived, how we conceived of ourselves. It was the cradle of solidarity and struggle and demands for voting rights, employment rights, educational rights. It is not a coincidence that life expectancy was depressingly short for all of human history until the Industrial Revolution, when it started its stunning and steady rise. Without this revolution, most of us would still be tied to the land, never venturing further than the farm fence, unable to read, dead by 35. That’s the idyll eco-regressives fantasise about? These people are as historically illiterate as they are pseudo-scientific.
The COP26 mockery of the Industrial Revolution – more than that, the depiction of that revolution as the starting pistol of the coming climatic genocide – shines a harsh light on what is motoring today’s green hysteria. Not steam or coal, that’s for sure. No, it’s the elites’ loss of faith in modernity and in the human project more broadly. This is why climate-change hysteria is a far larger problem for humankind than climate change itself. As Bjorn Lomborg recently explained on spiked, climate change is a ‘middling problem’. It is the derangement over climate change, the painting of it as an End Times event we probably deserve, that truly disrupts and undermines our civilisation. With its misanthropic disdain for human behaviour and aspirations, with its revisionist treatment of the birth of modernity as essentially a crime against Mother Earth, with its incessant demands for reining in economic growth, and with its censorious branding of anyone who questions any part of the regressive green agenda as a ‘climate-change denier’, climate-change alarmism is an express menace to growth, democracy, freedom of speech and the right to dream of an even more prosperous future for all.
Prince Charles is right that we need to get on a ‘war footing’. Not against climate change, though. Rather, against this ceaseless diminishment of humanity’s achievements and the baleful, untrue claim that modern man is a plague on the planet. This manmade apocalypticism threatens to upend the remarkable civilisation we have created far more than a bit of carbon does.
Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy