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The Sky Is Falling – Yes – No

Image Source: Joseph Pennell – Public Domain

The sky is falling is one of the more disturbing thoughts in society today, as to whether climate change is on a fast track collision course with doomsday amidst a collapsing society.

In that regard, according to the details of a scathing review by ScientistsWarning.org (“SW”) of Jem Bendell’s wildly popular “Deep Adaptation” the answer is no, not yet. Society is not ready to keel over, as postulated in Bendell’s paper.

Whew! Climate change handwringers, sleepless nights, can take a deep breath, exhale and relax based upon the critique of Bendell’s very popular paper, which crystal balls the “end to society” within only decades, or less, depending.

In strong terms, ScientistsWarning.org’s thought-provoking rebuttal expresses outrage over Professor Jem Bendell’s doomsday thesis in its article entitled “The Faulty Science, Doomism, and Flawed Conclusion of Deep Adaptation” d/d July 14, 2020 by Thomas Nicholas, Galen Hall, and Colleen Schmidt, fact-checked by scientists.

(Editorial note: The Faulty Science, Doomisn, and Flawed Conclusion of Deep Adaptation is posted on ScientistsWarning.org, authored by Nicholas, Hall, and Schmidt; hereinafter, when “SW” is used in this article, it refers to those three authors.)

The full article can be accessed at www.ScientistsWarning.org.

Accordingly, within the opening two paragraphs of SW’s rebuttal: “In the past few years we have seen a troubling trend: a few figures in the climate movement using science — or what looks like science — to justify increasingly dire and prophetic, but ultimately unsupported claims about the future.”

Bendell’s Deep Adaptation became an overnight cult classic amongst many on the front lines of environmental justice, a brooding downcast thesis of the inevitability of “social collapse” because of the ravages of climate change/global warming, meaning there is no way out, humanity’s trapped in an insidious fireball of doom that’ll hit hard.

SW takes issue with Bendell: “(1) cherry-picking data (2) citing false reports (3) forwarding logical fallacies (4) disregard of robust scientific consensus.”

In SW’s words: “Neither social science nor the best available climate science support Deep Adaptation’s core premise: that near-term societal collapse due to climate change is inevitable.”

Furthermore: “This false belief undermines the environmental movement and could lead to harmful political decisions, overwhelming grief, and fading resolve for decisive action.”

SW offers past examples and discussion of the general harmful nature of “doomism” of which, according to SW, Bendell, head over heels, falls victim in his own overriding thesis. Not only that, SW felt compelled to critique Bendell because of the huge impact of his paper. Deep Adaptation has been downloaded more than 450,000 times and has been featured in several venues. It has had enormous impact, allegedly changing the “course of life” for some people. SW claims Bendell’s message has stirred those people to the “wrong course.”

Still, SW lauds Bendell’s exposure of the climate crisis by awakening the public to the intractable nature of global warming. SW: “Part of the paper’s value is its willingness to discuss the current, affective, and emotional impacts of the crisis… and, a crucial strength of the Deep Adaptation paper is the general idea that we need to brace for serious impacts from climate change.”

In other words, according to the critique, Bendell’s Deep Adaptation is not all bad. He inspires open discourse about the sensitive subject of climate change, the future of civilization, and the obstacles along the way.

Of considerable interest to SW and subject of its sharpest criticism, the core of Deep Adaptation’s argument is dependent upon two feedback loops (1) Arctic ice melt and (2) methane release from permafrost. According to SW, Bendell’s reliance upon those two feedback loops triggering and cascading the climate system into hells’ fiery hole is not a correct assessment of scientific fact. It’s only speculation.

According to SW, Bendell’s work is flawed to an extreme; thus, in their view, he sends out the wrong vibes to hundreds of thousands of people. Indeed, Bendell’s paper had enormous public impact, but as SW claims: “A narrative that destruction is inevitable justifies continued destruction, but ignores the human choices which cause it.”

Indeed, according to SW, Bendell avoids, ignores mainstream science and disputes the credibility of the IPCC, which is superseded by his reliance upon a thin layer of primary sources that carry forward his monumental thesis of self-afflicted human termination. In SW’s view, in the main, Bendell’s paper is an insult to the intelligence of the scientific community.

In conclusion, SW says: “We should publicly disavow the message that near-term collapse is inevitable, or that climate-induced total human extinction is plausible. There is uncertainty, but not so much that one can claim anything will happen.”

Therefore and based upon ScientistsWarning’s critique, the sky is not falling, not yet anyway. It is too early in the anthropogenic-influenced cycle of climate change to consider tossing in the towel. And moreover, it would be an act of self-afflicting destruction to do so.

However, SW’s critique also carries an unstated undertone of caution and concern, an unwavering apprehension, meaning: “All is not well.”

In fact, from this writer’s point of view, a case can be made that an emergency situation is here now, if only because so many peer-reviewed scientific papers express alarm, surprise and deep concern over how much faster the climate system is changing vis a vis internal climate models as well as contrasted with paleoclimate history. Which, indeed, is part of Bendell’s argument.

Not only that, the volume of peer-review papers that express concern and surprise by the rapidity of climate change has mushroomed since the turn of this century, convincing evidence that the climate system is far out of balance.

As for only one example: Collapsing permafrost in the Canadian High Arctic is happening 70 years earlier than scientists expected, to wit: “Observed maximum thaw depths at our sites are already exceeding those projected to occur by 2090” by Louise M. Farquharson et al, Climate Change Drives Widespread and Rapid Thermokarst Development in Very Cold Permafrost in the Canadian High Arctic, Geophysical Research Letters, June 10, 2019.

Still and all, according to ScientistsWarning.org, the sky is not falling… just not yet!

Meanwhile, kudos to Jem Bendell for bringing to the surface issues that haunt many followers of the planet’s very, very rambunctious, and unpredictable, changing climate. He’s opened the door to solid debate and criticism and an awareness of two important viewpoints that otherwise would not be so readily available in a public forum.

More articles by:

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at rlhunziker@gmail.com.

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