The Less You Know About Climate, The More You Cry About Climate


May 4, 2023
Guest Perspective by William Briggs


Some things, the saying goes, are too good to check.

Take the peer-reviewed paper “Environmental knowledge is inversely associated with climate change anxiety” by Hannes Zacher and Cort W. Rudolph in Climatic Change.

To my NPR-listener readers, “inversely associated” means the more environmental knowledge you have, the less you worry about the environment. It also means the greater your ignorance of the environment, which is to say, the more you listen to NPR, the more you worry.

The paper begins by quoting logician Bertrand Russell, who, believe it or not, foresaw Twitter: “The degree of one’s emotions varies inversely with one’s knowledge of the facts, the less you know the hotter you get.”

Before we get to the results of that study, let’s first look at efforts to increase anxiety. This is from Eos (a political publication of the American Geophysical Union): “The Mental Toll of Climate Change“.

Now it would seem impossible for there to be a “mental toll” caused by “climate change”, for the simple and true reason that the climate has not changed by much, or in any unusual way, and it has been this way for a very long time. This implies that if there has been, in any person, a “mental toll” because it was announced the modeled global average temperature has gone up a fraction of a degree, the cause must be hersteria (there is no misspelling), or something like it.

And that hersteria, or whatever it is, is surely brought about by propaganda, incessant idiotic ignorant propaganda. Let’s test that hypothesis. Quoting:

Our physical health can suffer in many ways from the effects of climate change. The most obvious are cases of mortality. In July 2018, an unprecedented heat wave in Japan killed more than a thousand people; researchers later showed that the event could not have happened without climate change [Imada et al., 2019].

You have to love the understatement of those first two sentences. Anyway, it is false, and absurd, to say that a heat wave could not have happened without “climate change.” That kind of statement can only be the result of stupidity or propaganda. You pick. The article referred to is “The First Undeniable Climate Change Deaths“.

Undeniable is that which cannot be denied. Propositions which cannot be denied are few in number, and do not include sketchy claims about causes of heat waves. Especially claims produced by “attribution” studies—the vast over-certainties of which I have written about elsewhere (here and here).

The original trauma article continues with the woman writer using the It’s Going To Happen So It Is Happening Fallacy, pace: “As the climate continues to change, the frequency and intensity of acute events such as wildfires and hurricanes are predicted to increase.” So, she implies, the people lining up outside therapists’ offices are traumatized (her word) by this prediction, believing the events they see now are those which might someday happen.

If you can follow that, you, too, can work for a “news” firm.

“Changes in temperature and weather patterns can trigger a sense of uncertainty, said” a female therapist. It’s hard to imagine how, unless those who are “triggered” have been prepped to assume the worst. Proof of that is our final example:

The third broad category of climate change–induced mental health impacts is often characterized as lingering and unshakable concern, worry, or anger. Those feelings—sometimes referred to collectively as climate anxiety—are brought on by an awareness that the environment is, perhaps indelibly, changing.

This is the scientific equivalent of the lady’s horror Lifetime film genre (we did this years ago), which always have the husband running off or the Other Woman intruding. For whatever reason, many women (and weak men) seem to enjoy excessive worrying. Which, if it wasn’t for voting, would not be of special interest.

Back to the paper we started with. They asked some 2,000 people thirty five questions like “Which of the following phenomena has been the main cause of global warming over the last 20 years?”

They also asked thirteen Lifetime-horror-movie questions like “I find myself crying because of climate change.”

Crying because of climate change.

Conclusion? “Results showed that, even after controlling for demographic characteristics, personality characteristics, and environmental attitudes, overall environmental knowledge and climate-specific knowledge were negatively related to climate change anxiety”.

They even had a wee p-value!