Big Picture News, Informed Analysis

Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

Doom Mongers: the Quiz

Activists have predicted environmental catastrophe for decades. In addition to a poor track record, they share similar arguments, language, and metaphors. 


German physicist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber with his new book. Click for photo source.

Concern over climate change needs to be understood in its historical context. Activists, scientists, and politicians have been delivering ultimatums to the public for decades: stop what you’re doing, follow our advice, or humanity perishes.

Can you guess when the following proclamations were made?

[This is] the decade of decision. Profound changes are required. We must create a new global compact for sustainable development. YEAR(original source here)

the world has a 10-year window of opportunity to take decisive action on global warming and avert catastrophe. YEAR(original source here)

humanity is on the way to unintended self-combustion, if we do not immediately turn to the path of sustainability. YEAR(original source here)

a few more decades of ungoverned fossil-fuel use and we burn up, to put it bluntly… YEAR(original source here)

If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment. YEAR(original source here)

Without urgent measures to rapidly reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, the possibility of limiting the temperature rise below a dangerous level will have disappeared within a decade. YEAR(original source here)

Twenty-six years ago, Al Gore described the 1990s as “a decade of decision.” An “environmental holocaust without precedent” would occur, he said, if we didn’t rapidly reduce humanity’s carbon dioxide emissions. Emissions continued to rise and no such holocaust materialized. Fast forward 17 years to 2006, and the message from activist scientist James Hansen was pretty much identical. We had, he insisted, a decade “at the most,” to “avert catastrophe” by decreasing emissions.

In 1989, environmental hysteric Bill McKibben said humanity was in danger of burning up in “a few more decades” if we didn’t overcome our “addiction” to fossil fuels. As if heating our homes, cooking our food, and transporting loved ones to school, work, and worship were equivalent to narcissism and depravity. Now activist scientist Hans Joachim Schellnhuber has released a book that insists we’re on track for self-immolation.

Eleven years ago, in 2004, Greenpeace said our chances of limiting global temperatures would disappear “within a decade” if “urgent measures” weren’t taken to reduce emissions. Evidently Greenpeace wasn’t serious when it made that statement. Emissions rose and a full decade has now elapsed. Miraculously, Greenpeace now believes the upcoming Paris climate summit has the power to “keep average temperature rises to no more than 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius.”

There are many personality types out there. Some people need drama. They enjoy scaring the kiddies, denouncing sin, and threatening non-believers with hellfire and damnation. Life apparently isn’t rich enough for these souls; they need to imagine themselves participants in humanity’s “defining moment.”

But the most non-renewable resource of all is time – that finite portion allotted to each of us here on this dazzling blue and green sphere. Life is short. We mustn’t let the doom mongers and drama queens dominate too much of it.



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