Talk:Doomism

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Tom also discussed the issue in a thread on Twitter. The text of Tom's tweets (without the links etc) is:

We are in a climate crisis, but must not give in to doomism.

@GalenHall4, @ColleenBSchmid1 and I explain why environmental doomism is never the right philosophy.

The faulty science, doomism, and flawed conclusions of Deep Adaptation

1/🧵 In particular we look at the most pernicious example of doomism within a movement @GalenHall4 and I are members of: the damaging effect of Jem Bendell’s @deepadaptation agenda on @ExtinctionR .

2/ The original Deep Adaptation paper has been downloaded 100’s of thousands of times, and Bendell contributed a chapter to the Extinction Rebellion handbook, and has spoken for the movement many other times.

Jem Bendell XR Opening Speech London

3/ There are several things we agree with in the paper, such as how the mainstream media still consistently fails to communicate the scale and urgency of the crisis, which is why we must @EndClimtSilence.

4/ And how important it is to be open about the emotional toll that facing this level of destruction can take.

But…

5/ The “Deep Adaptation Agenda” essentially argues that things are in fact so much worse than we’ve been told that society is on the verge of collapse, or even that “near-term human extinction” is plausible, and that all we can do is grieve and prepare for the inevitable storm.

6/ This is extremely problematic in a number of ways: scientifically, politically and strategically.

7/ Others have questioned the premise of Deep Adaptation, such as @NafeezAhmed, or its politics, such as @TricksyRacoon, but not explained exactly why this entire framing is so counterproductive for the environmental movement.

The flawed social science behind Extinction Rebellion’s change strategy

8/ Firstly, as is common with doomist takes, Deep Adaptation relies on extremely flawed scientific “evidence” to justify the philosophy.

9/ However, coming from a Professor, and presented like it were a peer-reviewed journal publication (it actually failed peer-review, and for good reasons), these mistakes are dressed up in a way which can fool non-scientists into taking them at face value.

10/ This has unsurprisingly had a severe effect on many activists’ mental health.

11/ In particular Deep Adaptation relies on exaggerating the science around climate tipping points, specifically methane permafrost and arctic sea ice loss.

12/ Climate scientists like @MichaelEMann (who called DA simply “crap”) and (more recently) @TamsinEdwards have been correcting doomists on these topics since at least 2013. Deep Adaptation has resurrected them, and publicly elevated them.

Toward Improved Discussions of Methane & Climate

13/ For a myth-busting resource on various climate tipping points, including methane permafrost and arctic ice, see the @ClimateTipPoint blog, an outreach project run by climate scientists whose research specialism is tipping points. climatetippingpoints.info

14/ In the article we go through in detail why the scientific claims made are so misleading, but it’s often simply because the sources used are worthless.

15/ Similarly poor sources are used not just for climate science claims, but also to justify the possibility of imminent societal collapse. e.g:

16/ The apocalyptic proclamations of Guy McPherson are referenced to justify the idea that climate change could (somehow) cause all the world’s nuclear plants to suddenly meltdown (they won’t), and that that would be enough to make humans extinct (it wouldn’t).

17/ McPherson is notorious for claiming that human extinction is imminent with no justification: In 2008 he predicted the end of civilisation by 2018, and in 2012 he predicted that global warming would kill much of humanity by 2020.

18/ (Note the contrast with the IPCC, whose previous temperature predictions have proved largely correct.

Analysis: How well have climate models projected global warming?

19/ (@FT, perhaps you want to retract the part of your article where you call Deep Adaptation “meticulously referenced”?) Extinction Rebellion: inside the new climate resistance - FT.com

20/ Climate denialists have used the same tricks for decades to push the false message that scientists are unsure if the globe is warming.

We show the similarities by comparing to @NaomiOreskes & @GeoffreySupran’s report on the #ExxonKnew scandal. America Misled: How the fossil fuel industry deliberately misled Ame

21/ At this point some are probably asking whether it’s worth splitting hairs over the science — if we are calling for civil disobedience in response to our government’s abdication of its duty, and so is Deep Adaptation, then why argue over the details of the justification?

22/ Because only once we unshackle ourselves from the scientific and social presuppositions of Deep Adaptation can we become a truly radical and powerful movement.

Why?

23/ It weakens our motivation.

If collapse were inevitable, it would make no sense to rebel against governments that will fall apart. Nonviolent rebellion is more justified because our govts are failing to protect us even though they can.

24/ Deep Adaptation suggests that it’s too late, we’re no longer in control, and may have started “runaway climate change”.

This contrasts with scientific consensus which says: we still mostly control future warming, and so must #ActNow.

25/ It’s psychologically harmful.

I’ve heard first-hand the damaging effect these narratives can have on activists’ mental health.

26/ It encourages fatalist paralysis.

Deep Adaptation encourages a kind of paralysis when it claims that “there is no ‘effective’ response” to the crisis. Again, that’s just wrong.

27/ Unsupported claims bring bad press.

By framing arguments like those in DA as the sole justification for XR’s protests, deniers and delayists can dismiss the entire movement as “alarmist.”

Extinction Rebellion Confronted By Actual Scientist - Guido Fawkes

28/ It sacrifices integrity.

Scientific malpractice is especially damaging for a movement whose 1st demand is to “Tell the Truth.”

29/ It’s strategically harmful.

One of the small group of XR protestors who, against wishes of wider movement, made the poor decision to disrupt the London underground in Canning Town reportedly referenced the debunked, doom-laden predictions of Guy McPherson as justification.

30/ It’s short-sighted.

Believing that the end is nigh undermines the kind of long-term planning that will be crucial to XR’s continued success.

31/ Even if XR succeeds in instigating a rapid post-carbon transition in the UK, it and other movements will have much more work to do over the next century to ensure that this transition actually happens, and happens justly.

32/ The vague framing of collapse ignores key justice implications.

A western-centric view of collapse ignores the gross injustice that characterises climate change, both in its causes and impacts.

33/ This framing is harmful in the same way as “All Lives Matter”. It wilfully ignores the disproportionate impact of the crisis on marginalised groups and the continuing role of racially-charged colonial-era power structures in a system which has failed to address that crisis.

34/ It also always makes sense to keep fighting. The ongoing resistance of indigenous peoples to colonialism know this well -- a fight DA paternalistically minimizes by referring to forced confinement of tribes to reservations as “their new lifestyle”.

Reindeer at the End of the World

35/ It lets the perpetrators off the hook.

These are the oil majors, networks of libertarian organizations, and other industries all bent on obstructing both public understanding of climate breakdown and any real social response.

Networks of Opposition: A Structural Analysis of U.S. Climate Chan

36/ It distracts us from the most important responses to the climate crisis.

Rising up to remove socio-political power from the Exxons, Kochs, and Trumps who are actively exacerbating the climate crisis.

Oil And Gas Giants Spend Millions Lobbying To Block Climate Change Policies

37/ If we psychologically abandon all the complex institutions and structures we live in and rely on (as Deep Adaptation advocates) we are not encouraged to repurpose them. But that’s exactly what we need to do.

38/ Doomism will always be tempting, but there is a middle ground between wishful status-quoism and ineffective defeatism.

39/ The middle road is the hardest to take: it requires accepting the magnitude of the damage that’s already done, but also stepping up to do the work necessary to prevent even worse outcomes. But that’s what we must do.

40/40 Thanks to @JKSteinberger, @TricksyRaccoon, @JamesGDyke, @richardabetts, @rpancost, @alisong, @sciencewarning, @ClimateTipPoint, and others, and @OpenDemocracy for publishing it.