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The mental illness of alarmism – climate depression, climate change delusion

Who would have guessed? A relentless propaganda campaign to generate fear about the climate has generated fear about the climate. It takes billions of dollars to generate delusion on this scale.

After hopes for government-run-climates were dashed in Copenhagen, the price of setting up a fantasy came back to haunt the team.  The fallout was psychological pain. The failure of Copenhagen was a savage set-back for the scare campaign in so many ways. Only now, years later, do we hear just how bad the repercussions were.

The answer to “climate fear” is, of course, to look at data skeptically, and to stay logical. But instead, the big-government-NGO machine diverts more money down the deep well of unreason. Now there are research papers analyzing “The Debilitating Disease of Climate Alarmism”, and counselors are (presumably) paid to counsel people on how to be afraid, but not overly so.

What’s the difference between this and a cult? A 17 year old was hospitalized with dehydration because he believed if he didn’t drink water it would help prevent a water shortage. A PhD grad says ““Every time I talked about environmental issues, I would start crying”.

Meanwhile the sensible types quietly leave, and the maddies press on. Shame about the collateral damage.

A climate of despair

August 13, 2014, The Age

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.

The United Nations was about to hold its 2009 climate change conference in Copenhagen, and Thornton felt she had a personal investment in it. She, like many thousands of activists and scientists and green campaigners, had high hopes that a new and robust version of the Kyoto agreement would be created in Denmark.“But the reality was a massive, epic failure of political will. It broke me,” she says. “The trigger point was actually watching grown men cry. They were senior diplomats from small islands, begging larger countries to take action so that their nations would not drown with the rising seas.”

Thornton pauses,  takes a breath. “It still gets me, five years later. That’s when I lost hope that we were able to save ourselves from self-destruction. That’s when I lost hope that we would survive as a species. It made me more susceptible to what I call ‘climate depression’.”

If the term “climate depression” is new to you, it should be. No such condition is recognised by the world of psychiatry. There is no formalised syndrome.

Yet no matter what the nomenclature (some refer to the problem as “ecoanxiety”, while others talk about “doomer depression” and “apocalypse fatigue”), despondency over a what many believe is societal failure to adequately acknowledge or address environmental issues has become a line of psychological inquiry.

Journals have published papers with titles such as “The Debilitating Disease of Climate Alarmism” and “A Climate of Suffering”.

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”.

The Australian Conservation Foundation had to bring in psychologists (paid from donations?) to help their team cope with the reality after their fantasies of control over the climate collapsed in Copenhagen.

Adam Majcher, of Australian Conservation Foundation, reached out to Burke and Blashki around the time of the failure in Copenhagen (which is acknowledged as an emotional nadir for green activists).

“We were seeing signs of a particular burden on our advocates,” says Majcher. “There was a shift in the moods and attitudes, with people becoming quite despondent, less engaged. Many people usually talkative were going a little quiet. And there was definitely a significant decline in activity in the program, along with frustrations playing out in isolation, anger.”

Burke and Blashki were brought in to deliver a presentation about recognising anxieties in yourself and others, and tips for those in an unhealthy frame of mind. Materials were sent to advocates around the country, so that they could recognise warning signs and look after themselves, or seek professional help.

Read it all at The Age.

No doubt, the sufferers of climate fear blame skeptics for the lack of progress. In reality the people who fuel the fear are those hyping and exaggerating the threat and breaking laws of reason and evidence. Some (but not all) alarmists are milking the guilt and fear of good people for their own career progress and profits.

There’s a thin veneer of logic here:

But other experts point out that we should not so easily or readily confuse helplessness with depression – nor should we mistake correlation for causation.

Professor Helen Berry, of the University of Canberra, has done extensive research into the health impacts of climate change, and says it is “unlikely” there is any such thing as climate depression.

“But it’s not the climate change component that’s causing the problem,” she says. “It’s the repeated failures themselves which make people feel helpless, which is a known cause of depression.”

The other possibility Berry doesn’t consider is that people who are trained to hold irrational views (like that windmills in South Australian can prevent cyclones in Indonesia) are going to experience horrible cognitive dissonance as their beliefs persistently fail to convince other people, and fail against reality.

The sadness of this particular emotional fixation could be so easily lifted (although the depression itself may be real, and caused by something else entirely). In the end, a dose of reason may mean that their irrational fear that governments will not pour billions into trying to change the weather will become a rational fear that governments will.

h/t Ian and Darren

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