A Weblog monitoring coverage of environmental issues and science in the UK media. By Professor Emeritus Philip Stott. The aim is to assess whether a subject is being fairly covered by press, radio, and television. Above all, the Weblog will focus on science, but not just on poor science. It will also bring to public notice good science that is being ignored because it may be politically inconvenient.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Manic-depression and 'global warming' hype.....

I have already commented on the manic-depressive tendencies presented by participants and camp followers at major 'global-warming' meetings, such as those held in The Hague (2000), in Marrakesh, Morocco (2001), in Edinburgh around the G8 Summit (2005), and in Montreal (this month).

The 'meeting' is first reported to be 'failing drastically', with participants walking out or raising 'impossible' issues. The 'meeting' then extends into the early hours of the morning after the day on which it is meant to have closed, the host nation using every trick in the moral-blackmail book to achieve 'something' for home consumption. A bland agreement is cobbled together at the very last minute. Thousands of participants and journalists emerge from their fierce-small-world 'euphoric', tears are shed, and the 'success' of the meeting is overhyped and over-spun - "the world can breathe again". Then, inevitably, in the cold light of day, the euphoria turns quickly to angst and to bitterness as it becomes increasingly obvious that little-to-nothing has been achieved. The high is followed by a long depression.

If you examine carefully the symptoms exhibited following these repeated 'meeting patterns', while analysing in detail the changing media language involved, it becomes obvious that 'global warming' hype is leading to clinically-identifiable symptoms closely associated with those presented in 'mass psychogenic illness', or 'mass sociogenic illness'.

The following two excellent medical papers explain these syndromes, with detailed examples: (a) 'Mass psychogenic illness: role of the individual physician' [Am. Fam. Physician (2000) 62: 2649-53,2655-6], and (b) 'Mass psychogenic illness: a case report and overview' [Psychiatric Times, April 2000, XVII, 4]. Here is a key passage from (a):
"Mass psychogenic illness is characterized by symptoms, occurring among a group of persons with shared beliefs regarding those symptoms, that suggest organic illness but have no identifiable environmental cause and little clinical or laboratory evidence of disease. Mass psychogenic illness typically affects adolescents or children, groups under stress and females disproportionately more than males. Symptoms often follow an environmental trigger or illness in an index case. They can spread rapidly by apparent visual transmission, may be aggravated by a prominent emergency or media response, and frequently resolve after patients are separated from each other and removed from the environment in which the outbreak began. Physicians should consider this diagnosis when faced with a cluster of unexplained acute illness."

Both medical papers mention the effects of a high-school teacher, who noticed a gasoline-like odour in her classroom, on her class. The teacher developed headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, and dizziness. Her students soon began complaining of similar symptoms. The school was evacuated, and emergency personnel from several counties responded. On the first day, 100 people ended up going to a local emergency department with symptoms reportedly related to exposure at the school. Five days later, the outbreak re-occurred. The school was closed on that day, and approximately 70 people sought emergency care.

Yet, physical examination and laboratory testing revealed no evidence whatsoever of a toxic cause for the symptoms.

Even more interestingly, such mass hysteria can spread rapidly to those who are distant from any original 'event'; in such cases, the response is known as 'mass hysteria by proxy'. One outbreak of 'mass hysteria by proxy', for example, has been documented, in which anxiety transmitted among parents led to reports of serious symptoms in students.

'Global warming' hysteria appears to be a classic example of 'mass psychogenic illness', which is triggered and fed by the regular world meetings mentioned above, but which is then transmitted globally through the media and Green pressure groups as 'mass hysteria by proxy'.

This is hardly surprising, as taking the temperature of the Earth every second of every day, and then reporting it uncritically and apocalyptically via 24-hour rolling news, constitutes the perfect trigger for folk with a predisposition to hypochondria, or, in this case, to 'ecochondria'. Manic-depression, or bipolar-disorder, then begins to exhibit itself, both in the individual and in the media.

The truth is, therefore, a serious one: 'global warming' hype is bad for your health. Yes, Green hype can be clinically damaging.

Of course, as the author of the above studies cleverly reminds us, the essence of all this was said by Jonathan Swift a long time ago (in 1710):
"Falsehood flies and the truth comes limping after; so that when men come to be undeceived it is too late: the jest is over and the tale has had its effect."

Philip, jolly glad he is no 'global warming' fanatic or obsessive. Time to pop a cork? Pomerol, or one of those gooseberry-rich English whites I bought last week at lovely Lamberhurst? Tough choice.

Monday, December 12, 2005

And in a parallel world.....

The Narnian Chronicle
12 Winterval, Year 100

'Drastic global warming threat from Pantheron Dileoxide': Chief Wolf speaks out

By Our Own Correspondent, Digdirt the Dwarf

Today, the Wolf Council of the White Queen, Imperial Majesty Jadis, Empress of the Lone Islands, Queen of Narnia, Chatelaine of Cair Paravel, the Witch of Narnia, ('May She Freeze Forever!'), howled an apocalyptic warning in the Narnian Independent that the world is threatened by drastic global warming from the continued emissions of Lion's Breath, Pantheron Dileoxide (PL2). "PL2 is a dangerous, roaring greenhouse gas", the Chief Wolf, Maugrim, growled. "It melts everything, even frozen fauns and fountains. Climate change is the biggest threat ever to Narnia - we might even have Christmas, and the Queen's war chariot polar bears will have nowhere to live", he snarled.

Maugrim then demanded an immediate return to zero emissions, on pain of eternal freezing and statuification, and ordered anyone seeing a big lion to muzzle production with immediate effect. Otherwise, Narnia would be doomed, with disastrous floods, rising seas, the spread of leopards and dryads - not to mention the Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve -, extremely early springs (with pink flowers), and leaves on the sledge (Old Narnian: sled or sleigh) tracks... (continued on Page III, Col. 2)

Philip, don't miss the film [the Disney site requires the Flash plug-in]. It is fabulous - and, by Aslan's Mane, is global warming good! "Philip the Centaur for Narniaaaaa - and AAAAAAslaaan!"
Canada goose bumps the British press.....

Unlike the remiss UK media (see Saturday and Sunday blogs, below), the Canadian media reports Clinton's Montreal speech with a tad more nuance - 'Clinton, echoing Bush, says climate change can be curbed by voluntary efforts' (CJAD, December [9] 12):
"Former U.S. president Bill Clinton sounded a lot like George W. Bush in a speech to a UN conference Friday, suggesting climate change could be painlessly curbed through voluntary efforts and new technology.

He made no criticism of the Bush administration for refusing to embrace the mandatory targets of the Kyoto Protocol, or for refusing to discuss a long-term global agreement to cut greenhouse emissions."

As I complained below: "Well shiver me timbers! You wouldn't have known that from the Beeb!"

Philip, had to get this in before breakfast. The UK reporting of Montreal has been manic-depressive - as it has been after every such conference since 1997. I need a soothing cuppa. "Have a nice day!"

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Biased reporting in the UK - the bit conveniently left out of Clinton's Montreal speech....

Today's little blog [please read Saturday's blog, below, for my serious analysis of Montreal] should worry every good soul in the UK. It illustrates that our reporting on climate change - including to my knowledge by the BBC - is some of the least reliable. In the feeding orgy over Clinton's impromptu Montreal speech, everybody seems conveniently to have forgotten to report that Mr. Clinton also said that:
"... given the impasse over global targets for emissions, countries might do better to consider specific, smaller initiatives to advance and disseminate technologies that could greatly reduce emissions in both rich and poor countries.

'If you can't agree on a target, agree on a set of projects so everyone has something to do when they get up in the morning,' he said."

No targets? Small regional projects? Clean technology transfer? Where is this in any British newspaper or broadcasting outlet?

I am grateful to the excellent 'Muck and Mystery' blog for filling us in on this little lacuna (fully covered, however, in The New York Times). Worryingly, 'Muck and Mystery' also appends the following comment:
"Gee, if all we had was the beeb, Wired and AP to inform us we'd never hear this..."

Indeed, it is concerning. And just watch as the euphoria turns to sour reality....

A point that Christopher Booker is at pains to make re David Cameron in today's The Sunday Telegraph: 'Cameron's first goof is on Kyoto':
"... The EU may wax sanctimonious about the US, but it is America that has cut its emissions, while the EU's continue to rise, hopelessly missing its Kyoto targets. Wind power now appears to be pie in the sky, while the penny drops that nuclear is the only answer. 'Kyoto-ism' is seen as a mad self-deception, which can only result in crippling the world's economies to no purpose..."

Philip, hat tip to 'Muck and Mystery'. Lunch - a lovely gooseberry-full English white wine based on the Bacchus grape too!

[New counter, June 19, 2006, with loss of some data]

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