Mark Styen on Climate Depression

Monday morning hilarity with Mark Steyn. I’m reprinting Steyn’s latest article in its entirety below but you can find it here on his website.

Climate Depression Is For Real. Just Ask A Scientist.

By “climate depression”, they don’t mean a low-pressure system off Labrador. Rather, the massed ranks of climate scientists are depressed because nobody’s listening to them – well, nobody except President Obama, the Prince of Wales, the European Union, John Kerry, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jessica Alba, etc. Reporter Madeleine Thomas lays out the grim toll “climate depression” can take:

Two years ago, Camille Parmesan, a professor at Plymouth University and the University of Texas at Austin, became so “professionally depressed” that she questioned abandoning her research in climate change entirely.

Parmesan has a pretty serious stake in the field. In 2007, she shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore for her work as a lead author of th…

Whoa, whoa, hold up there. Professor Parmesan shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore? Who knew? Certainly not the Nobel Institute in Oslo nor the King of Norway. Be that as it may, Ms Thomas continues:

In 2009, The Atlantic named her one of 27 “Brave Thinkers” for her work on the impacts of climate change on species around the globe. Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg were also on the list.

Despite the accolades, she was fed up. “I felt like here was this huge signal I was finding and no one was paying attention to it,” Parmesan says. “I was really thinking, ‘Why am I doing this?'” She ultimately packed up her life here in the States and moved to her husband’s native United Kingdom.

“Native United Kingdom”? Her climate depression was so severe she was reduced to moving to Britain? Good grief. But it could have been worse:

From depression to substance abuse to suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder, growing bodies of research in the relatively new field of psychology of global warming suggest…

Wait a minute. The “psychology of global warming” is a “field”? Why, yes:

For your everyday environmentalist, the emotional stress suffered by a rapidly changing Earth can result in some pretty substantial anxieties.

For scientists like Parmesan on the front lines of trying to save the planet, the stakes can be that much higher… “I don’t know of a single scientist that’s not having an emotional reaction to what is being lost,” Parmesan is quoted saying in the National Wildlife Federation’s 2012 report, “The Psychological Effects of Global Warming on the United States: And Why the U.S. Mental Health Care System is Not Adequately Prepared.”

Is there a name for what these afflicted climate scientists are suffering from?

Lise Van Susteren, a forensic psychiatrist based in Washington, D.C. — and co-author of the National Wildlife Federation’s report — calls this emotional reaction “pre-traumatic stress disorder,” a term she coined to describe the mental anguish that results from preparing for the worst, before it actually happens.

With all due respect to Dr Van Susteren, I don’t believe she coined the term “pre-traumatic stress disorder”. That coinage spread like wildfire five years ago as a befuddled media tried to explain why Major Nidal Hasan gunned down dozens of his comrades at Fort Hood. From November 2009, NPR’s Tom Gjelten:

That’s right, Steve. You know, you referred to the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. There’s – almost seems to be a phenomenon that you could maybe call a pre-traumatic stress disorder.

Indeed. I referenced the pre-Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in my book After America (pp 168-169). If it seems mildly unsettling to find climate scientists claiming to be suffering from the same condition advanced for Major Hasan, don’t worry: They’re unlikely to wind up on a table firing wildly and yelling, “Allahu Akbar!” Instead, they’re being urged to yell …well, I’ll let Brentin Mock spell it out:

“Forgive my language here, but if scientists are looking for a clearer language to express the urgency of climate change, there’s no clearer word that expresses that urgency than FUCK,” Mock writes. “We need scientists to speak more of these non-hard science truths, no matter how inconvenient or how dirty.”

Climate scientists, don’t let pre-traumatic climate depression ruin your life! Instead of being reduced to a pitiful husk emigrating to the United Kingdom like a jihad wannabe heading off to ISIS, stand on a street corner and roar “F*CK!” at passers by.

As I said, I initially worried that this might be a brilliant parody of Big Climate’s terminal narcissism, but, if so, it’s not the first. From The Sydney Morning Herald:

Nicole Thornton remembers the exact moment her curious case of depression became too real to ignore. It was five years ago and the environmental scientist – a trained biologist and ecologist – was writing a rather dry PhD on responsible household water use…

Thornton had always been easily upset by apathy towards, and denial of, environmental issues. But now she began to notice an oddly powerful personal reaction to “the small stuff” – like people littering, or neighbours chopping down an old tree.

She found herself suddenly and strongly enveloped by unfamiliar feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, anger and anxiety… “That’s when I lost hope that we would survive as a species. It made me more susceptible to what I call ‘climate depression’.”

Dr Thornton has now formed a support group for fellow sufferers of climate depression. There’s no awareness-raising ribbon, just an awareness-raising tree-ring you can wear round your neck like a millstone.

Susie Burke, of the Australian Psychological Society and Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, adds:

“We can be very sure that many people in the field of climate change are distressed – highly distressed – and it can have a significant psychosocial impact on their wellbeing,” Burke said.

That’s interesting to know. As part of his amended complaint against me, Nobel fantasist Michael E Mann accuses me of “intentional infliction of emotional distress“:

98. As a result of the actions of defendants, including , inter alia, besmirching Dr. Mann’s reputation and comparing him to a convicted child molester. Dr. Mann has experienced extreme emotional distress.

99. As a result of the actions of defendants, the chara cter and reputation of Dr. Mann were harmed, his standing and reputation among the community were impaired, he suffered financially, and he suffered mental anguish and personal humiliation.

But, according to Dr Burke and Dr Van Susteren, Michael E Mann works in a field so prone to “extreme emotional distress” and “mental anguish” it has its own condition, which is to the climatology departments of the developed world what Ebola is to Liberia. Who’s to say he wasn’t already suffering from Pre-Traumatic Climate-Depression Warming-Pause Disorder? We may have to have Dr Van Susteren examine Michael Mann in court…

By the way, the most revealing passage in that Sydney Morning Herald piece is this:

Six years ago, a dehydrated 17-year-old boy was brought into the Royal Children’s Hospital, refusing to drink water. He believed having a drink would somehow contribute to the global shortage of potable water, and became the first diagnosed case of “climate change delusion”.

This kid is the real victim of Mann and his Big Climate ideologues. There has been no global warming since the lad was in kindergarten, but the poor boy doesn’t know that – and he’s been so terrorized by the climate alarmists into believing that advanced western lifestyles are the cause of all the world’s woes that he’s terrified even to run the cold tap and have a glass of water. This kid is really a victim of child abuse. But that brings us back to Jerry Sandusky, and I wouldn’t want to cause Michael E Mann anymore “emotional distress”…

I can understand why the disinclination of reasonable persons to listen to the likes of professors Parmesan and Mann might produce in them a bad case of “climate depression”. One way to avoid that might be to cease passing oneself off as a Nobel Laureate when one is no such thing, and to cease demonizing those who disagree with Big Climate absolutism with cheap emotive sneers like “denier”. In other words, try behaving like – what’s the word? – scientists. Jo Nova:

If you have to resort to namecalling, and can’t define your terms in English (who denies there is climate?), there’s a message in that. You’ve picked the wrong career.

As Dr Judith Curry concludes:

Whining scientists aren’t going to help either the science or their ’cause.’

~If you have the misfortune to be in Washington on November 25th, do swing by the DC Court of Appeals for oral arguments between Mann and my co-defendants. I’ll be there as an amicus curiae, but in the cheap seats. I promise to autograph any copies of The [Un]documented Mark Steyn shoved under my nose – and don’t forget, all profits from book sales and trial merchandise and gift certificates go to prop up my end of this interminable case.

The Climate Couch

The Best of the Web Today is one of my favourite commentaries. James Taranto can picked apart and pretty much destroy most Leftist arguments. Here he is taking in one of my pet peeves re: climate change and the attempt by global warmists to pathologize any attempt to refute it or a refusal to accept the so-called consensus:

“Do you have a tendency to worry excessively about the weather?” Corbis

The Climate Couch

Can psychologists make global warmists of us all?


Global warmists have a problem, which they hope to solve through therapy–for others.

“If there weren’t such a stark divide between American conservatives and almost everyone else on the question of the existence and importance of climate change–a divide that can approach 40 points on some polling questions–the political situation would be very different,” writes New York magazine’s Jesse Singal. Warmists need a way of “convincing a lot of conservatives that yes, climate change is a threat to civilization.” Achieving that objective “has more to do with psychology than politics.”

How many psychologists does it take to change a conservative’s light bulb? Only one–but the conservative has to want it to change.

Our reference to therapy was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. What Singal has in mind isn’t individual treatment but mass psychology–i.e., propaganda. His argument is that “the climate activist community” has “failed to understand” that “messages targeting conservatives” should be “radically different” from those aimed at liberals. He advises warmists to draw on frameworks from social and political psychology, such as ”moral foundations theory” and “system justification.” That ought make it possible for them to develop methods to promulgate correct beliefs–or, as he puts it, “to nudge conservatives toward recognizing the issue.”

We’d say all this is unlikely to amount to anything–not because we doubt that the underlying psychological theories have some merit, but rather because Singal and the psychologists he quotes are laughably biased in their understanding of the “problem.”

Read the whole thing here.