A narrative propagated by emotive engagement, not veracity.
This post came out on Prof Curry’s most excellent blog ‘Climate Etc’ yesterday.
The catastrophe narrative
(See bottom of last page for a link to the Footnotes file here, which is common to ‘The Catastrophe Narrative’ companion post below).
Within the public domain there is a widespread narrative of certainty (absent deep emissions cuts) of near-term (decades) climate catastrophe. This narrative is not supported by mainstream science (no skeptical views required), and in the same manner as an endless sequence of historic cultural narratives, propagates via emotive engagement, not veracity.
The catastrophe narrative is propagated by all levels of authority from the highest downwards, granting it huge influence, and differentially via favored functional arms of society, plus at grass roots level. Over decades, various forms via which the catastrophe narrative best propagates have become established via selection, and can be categorized. While covering a large range, these forms typically feature powerful emotive cocktails (mixed emotions invoked simultaneously) and great urgency, which are highly adapted to undermining objectivity.
This narrative elephant in the room not only tramples upon the mainstream output of science, but all other attempts at objectivity, at a minimum invoking bias wherever it propagates, and at maximum a complete disconnect from domain realities. While the catastrophe narrative is sometimes acknowledged even by those on the orthodox side of the climate change issue, it is typically neither studied nor opposed (and not infrequently its propagation is praised). On the skeptic side, there is often misunderstanding regarding who propagates this narrative and who merely fails to oppose it, which leads to mis-labelling. These issues are discussed in more detail within a companion post to be released shortly. Below deals just with narrative propagation and the forms via which this occurs.
- Propagation by authority levels and functional arms / orgs
The catastrophe narrative has emanated from many of the most powerful and influential figures in the West throughout the twenty-first century, as exampled by 39 quotes from 26 sources in footnote 1. While based only on English language reportage, this sample nevertheless includes leaders, ex-leaders and candidate leaders from 8 Western nations (with the US, Germany, UK and France being economically 4 of 7 and politically 4 of 6, top world powers9), along with high ministers, high UN officials, the Pope and UK royalty, over about the last 15 years. The narrative is also framed in a most urgent and emotive manner, which hugely increases its re-transmission capability14, is global in scope (‘the planet’), and unequivocally attributes the imminent catastrophe from global warming to humans (via ‘emissions’), i.e. the ‘C’ is due to AGW. Regarding policy, impending catastrophe is often cited as the main reason to act.
Propagation of the same catastrophe narrative is highly visible below the primary leadership level, as exampled by 28 quotes from 26 sources in footnote 2, which covers lesser-ranking / local politicians, leaders of less influential nations, NGOs, economists and influencers. Further down still becomes a sea of comments dispersed over all media that are often hard to attribute and too voluminous to study in detail, without some serious research-time / manpower.
It appears that the catastrophe narrative finds a home much more readily in some functions of society than others. While this seems obvious for the case of say environmental science or government environmental workers, there appear to be other cases such as the caring professions (who wield much authority), with consequent propagation of catastrophe narrative either as part of expectations for future coping (i.e. with catastrophe), or as advocacy for action by some medical authorities or associations. Though needing more investigation than I’ve had time for, footnote 8 provides a brief insight via a few catastrophe narrative quotes from authorities in the medical / health domain.
Next page (2) for more…