Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rio Delusions

The draft text for discussion at the RIO +20 summit makes clear that the summit itself is a waste of energy and time. Even the environmental non-government organizations (ENGO’s) attending it think so. Jim Leape, international director general of WWF, hoped that the document would be renegotiated: “It’s pathetic. It’s appalling. If this becomes the final text the last year has been a colossal waste of time.” Friends of the Earth are even stronger in their disapproval, calling the plans “an epic failure”. 

None of this surprises anyone. A process by which representatives from 193 countries have to agree every word, comma and full stop over several months of discussion is not likely to produce much of anything. Yet expectations are always high, especially when thousands of people are attending Rio +20 in the hope of transformative change coming from such a meeting. 

Delusion takes many forms. But the core symptoms of delusion are clear for the green movement. Here is a list:

  1. Persistent belief that something serious is happening. This has occurred over the last five decades as we have moved through the threat of the ice age, global warming, climate change, climate disaster, man made natural disaster (another delusion), the threat of sea level rise flooding coastal cities around the world.
  2. Disorganized speech. Just listen to Al Gore. While eloquent, he is also disorganized, confused, will not answer questions from audience members unless the question and the audience member has been vetted before hand and will not respond to skeptical concerns.
  3. Feeling threatened. Warmists are threatened by evidence that their theory of CO2 causing warming is mistaken. So as to protect their delusion, they adjust the data and increasingly rely on made up evidence (also known as computer models) to justify their delusional beliefs.
  4. Grandiose beliefs. Many in the environmental movement belief that they are the keepers of truth and wisdom – a major delusion. They cannot accept that other views or evidence may suggest alternative understanding of either environmental issues or climate change. For example, the idea that the pursuit of profit is a way to end poverty and take care of the environment is something that they reject, despite evidence that this is how poverty reduction has occurred on an unprecedented scale over the last fifty years.
  5. Manipulation of facts. Global temperatures are within normal ranges and have not risen dramatically for over a decade, yet the delusionists are persuaded that global warming is occurring. One reason for this is the manipulation (technical “adjustment”) of the evidence and the other is the use of fantasy (also known as computer model) data. When evidence is provided from actual observations of natural events, the delusionists will have an explanation.
  6. The use of the bogey man. Whenever skeptical voices are raised about their delusion, delusionists will make use of the “bogey man” (big oil, fossil fuel industry) to try and discredit their adversaries. The fact that their delusions are also supported by “big oil” never occurs to them as a problem.
  7. Safety in numbers. There are literally thousands who believe that the moon landings were fabricated. Others are taking the view that homeopathy is based on evidence and is an effective treatment for a range of illnesses, despite repeated demonstrations of its ineffectiveness and non scientific base. A large number of people believe that Jesus visited the Americas (it is actually a Mormon belief). So the warmist delusionists meet frequently to reinforce their beliefs. Just because hundreds of people believe something doesn’t make it true.
The key to delusion, from a psychological point of view, is that the person actually understands that their delusional beliefs are not true, but persists anyway. Here is the clinical definition:

“Non-bizarre delusions typically are beliefs of something occurring in a person's life which is not out of the realm of possibility. For example, the person may believe their significant other is cheating on them, that someone close to them is about to die, a friend is really a government agent, etc. All of these situations could be true or possible, but the person suffering from this disorder knows them not to be (e.g., through fact-checking, third-person confirmation, etc.)” Psych Central based on DSM V.

No one in their right mind expected RIO +20 to be a breakthrough for the planet, yet tens of thousands will attend, including world leaders. No one in their right mind thinks that climate change will kill millions, yet many behave as if this inevitable. No one in their right mind thinks that failure at RIO will mean the end of these kinds of gatherings – we can only hope.

The fact that many will not have aspirations met in Rio does not undermine the support Rio will provide for delusional thinking.

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