A Peak Peak-Oil-Theory Theory

Five months is a long time in climate politics. The arguments change with the seasons. Back in the hazy days of July and August, the eco-newswires were dominated by stories about ‘record-breaking’ arctic ice extent – even though it wasn’t record-breaking, and the record is only 30 years long. Now, they are more likely to be stories telling us that 2008 hasn’t been all that warm, but that global warming is still happening.

The other dominant story was the genuinely record-breaking oil prices. Every time you filled your car with petrol, the price had gone up by several per cent. The environmental movement was keen to interpret this as another harbinger of the beginning of the end, and used it to demand that we change our ways. It seemed to prove that we were in the grip of what they said peak-oil theory had predicted. Here is Caroline Lucas, Green Party MEP on BBC TV, in June.

[youtube mBTE4w3qIaw]

‘The days of cheap oil are over’, she says. ‘A look at the figures’ (what ‘figures’?) would demonstrate that we’re past the ‘half way point of all oil’, meaning that it would get more and more expensive, she claims. Demand outstrips supply. Lucas must be disappointed then, that OPEC have announced that they are cutting production by 2.2 million barrels a day in an order to rescue the price from its current plunge. In July, a barrel cost $147. Today, it costs just $41.53. If ‘the days of cheap oil are over’, why is it so cheap? Why is it necessary to create the scarcity which Caroline Lucas said existed in order to create the higher prices she demanded?

It could still be argued that the price drop reflects the current economic climate. And indeed, there is some sense in the argument that as demand has dropped so too has the price. But this doesn’t explain the peak. Because, back in June and July, it’s not as if the world was experiencing an economic boom.  Another major story – you may have noticed – of the last two years has been the ‘credit crunch’ that began in early 2007. Yet these two years of worsening economic affairs saw the price of oil rocket upwards. Just as we know house prices can ‘bubble’, so too can commodity prices. The upward prices were driven, in part, not by imminent scarcity, but by the idea that they might continue. After all, many – not just Greens – were lining up to make this drama a crisis. And who wouldn’t invest in oil, if they thought it was running out? And here’s the funny thing… It’s not in oil producers’ interests for people to believe that there is an abundance of oil. The idea of scarcity makes their product more valuable. Who are these Greens working for? On this basis, too, there is no real incentive for companies to invest in new exploration. New extraction facilities are hugely expensive. Invest prematurely, and you alter the market, price, and of course, politics. Imagine that in July 2008 you had invested your capital on the basis of reports that…

Some analysts have raised the possibility of prices rising as high as $200 a barrel during the next 18 months. … “You really cannot forecast how much further the market will rally now,” said Tatsuo Kageyama from Kanetsu Asset Management in Tokyo. “All I can say is the market will continue to rise.

… you’d be feeling the pinch now.

Search the web for charts showing oil prices, and what they reveal is that upward surges in oil price reflect political events. Regional conflict in the Middle East, and Africa, the War on Terror, assassinations, strikes, and so on, litter the upward progress of curves. Yet environmental doom-sayers are quick to tell us that there is something fundamentally wrong about our relationship with the natural world, and that we stand on the brink of a precipice. Nothing could be more arse-about-face. Oil prices were high for very human reasons.

The ‘half way point’ between what was in the ground and its depletion has been given incredible significance by various alarmists. It is yet another ‘tipping point’ that is used to manufacture drama from dull statistics, in much the same way as Arctic ice progression is used to manufacture drama from dull statistics. Once this fictional point is passed, we are supposed to enter some dark new epoch, in which a society that has foolishly been predicated on some ‘unsustainable’ relationship with the natural world begins to collapse. The search for these points-of-no-return represent a religious mission to look for ‘signs’ from Gaia. So convinced are people that such algebraic maxima exist, which give mathematical identity to society’s relationship with nature, that anything and everything becomes a ‘tipping point’ at the expense of understanding the world more deeply; understanding the increasing price of oil as a shortcoming of the market in the face of events in the human – rather than geological – world, for example. The idea of the ‘tipping point’ then assumes political significance. Rarely a day goes by without it being applied to something – gun crime, obesity, you name it. Where there is a moral panic, you will find the ecological metaphor – the “tipping point” – being used to paint a picture of inevitable decline into social chaos.

The invocation of social chaos is a demand for social control. Like alienated weirdos who once stood in public places wearing ‘the end is nigh’ placards, the people making these statements cannot explain the world – it’s already chaotic for control freaks. For example, they can’t explain oil prices in terms of political events. Curves representing Arctic sea ice approach ‘tipping points’, which they argue represent movement towards ‘runaway climate change’. ‘We’ve got to change the way we live’, they say. While they so comprehensively fail to explain the social world, we should ignore them, just as we walked past those men in their placards. They deserve only a bit of sympathy, at arms length.

There is a problem for people making these statements. Their luck runs out. Nature takes a different course. So…

As the environmental movement emphasises our relationship with nature, how about we treat doom itself as a ‘natural resource’ which is exploited for political capital? It is a resource that is depleted in two ways. First, let’s assume that it is finite – nature cannot continue to provide alarmists with these resources forever, and so their jumping on everything as the sign of ‘the end’ is unsustainable. Second, the utility of these resources becomes diminished as an increasingly credulous public tire of them – demand for more and more doom grows. Hence, climate change alarmists leap on sea ice extent one year, floods the next, heatwaves the next… and so on. Each new trend constitutes a new deposit of resource, that will be depleted, flogged to death, over the season.

Let’s call this theory the peak peak-oil-theory theory. So far, environmental alarmists have been able to avoid reaching the peak because they have been able to locate new trends, and invent new ways of telling stories about the progress of little blue lines which, for that season, appear to make sense. But now, there is clear evidence emerging that the tipping points have been passed.

Doom does not carry over from one season to the next. Arctic sea ice recovers from its ‘historic low’ in a year that climate-activist-meteorologists admit that global warming is postponed. The commodity price bubble of doom bursts. In order to prevent a crisis, alarmists pump ever more doom into the market, promising a bleaker future, but it just makes them look sillier and sillier. Confidence in the doom market crumbles still further, as the value of doom approaches nil.

[youtube Higin1kY3PM]

The world’s doom-shale deposits, previously thought to contain enough pessimism to fuel the green project for centuries to come, don’t. The idea that technological developments will allow these reserves to be tapped is mere propaganda. The days of cheap doom are over.

Global Warming… Jumping the Shark…

Wikipedia tells us,

The term jumping the shark alludes to a specific scene in a 1977 episode of the TV series Happy Days when the popular character Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli literally jumps over a shark while water skiing. The scene was so preposterous that many believed it to be an ill-conceived attempt at reviving the declining ratings of the flagging show. 

The expression is used to refer to tired TV shows which have similarly passed their peak.

Once a show has “jumped the shark” fans sense a noticeable decline in quality or feel the show has undergone too many changes to retain its original appeal. 

Now, the same is true of the much over-cooked global warming. The Observer reported at the weekend:

Surge in fatal shark attacks blamed on global warming 

But, of course, we need the numbers.

Two deaths in the waters off California and Mexico last week and a spate of shark-inflicted injuries to surfers off Florida’s Atlantic coast have leftbeachgoers seeking an explanation for a sudden surge in the number of strikes. In the first four months of this year, there were four fatal shark attacks worldwide, compared with one in the whole of 2007, according to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History inGainesville.  

Gosh. Interesting. But correlation and causation, and all that. We ought to be careful. What is the warming climate doing to the sharks, to make them attack us?

‘The one thing that’s affecting shark attacks more than anything else is human activity,’ said Dr George Burgess of Florida University, a shark expert who maintains the database. ‘As the population continues to rise, so does the number of people in the water for recreation. And as long as we have an increase in human hours in the water, we will have an increase in shark bites.’ 

Hmmm. That’s not global warming though, is it?

Some experts suggest that an abundance of seals has attracted high numbers of sharks, while others believe that overfishing has hit their food chain. 

Hmmm. Still not getting the ‘global warming’ thing…

Another contributory factor to the location of shark attacks could be global warming and rising sea temperatures. ‘You’ll find that some species will begin to appear in places they didn’t in the past with some regularity,’ he said. 

“Could be”. Things “regularly appearing” where they hadn’t been “in the past”. We’re not going to worry about it until we see sharks in rollerblading rinks. It turns out that the headline is misleading.

The only sense which can be distilled from this absurd article is that sharks only attack you when you’re wet. Global warming has nothing to do with it.

"I'm Dreamin' of a White Easter"

It’s spring. And you can tell, not by the chirping of birds in the trees, or the frolicking of lambs in the fields, but by the whining and bleating of journalists in the Independent and Guardian newspapers about how spring is coming earlier every year, and how this means a catastrophe is just around the corner.

In ‘How the blurring of the seasons is a harbinger of climate calamity‘, Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor of the Independent, writes,

According to documented observations throughout 2007 and 2008, events in the natural world that used to be key spring indicators, from the blooming of flowers to the appearance of insects, are now increasingly happening in what used to be thought of as mid-winter, as Britain’s temperatures steadily rise. 

The problem for McCarthy is that much of the UK is set to be covered in a blanket of snow this Easter Sunday. Hardly a ‘key indicator’ of spring.

But what is a ‘key indicator’ anyway? And in what sense does Spring ‘exist’, such that it has scientific meaning? Is there an objective measure of spring, so we know that it has sprung in the way that we can know what time sun-rise and sun-set are?

To be fair, Paul Evans in the Guardian is far more circumspect than McCarthy.

Despite its stops and starts and the recent wild and extreme weather, all the signs point to this being one of the earliest springs Britain has had. But can we rely on the traditional harbingers to announcespring’s arrival, or should we be looking for new signs as the seasons become more complicated with the effects of climate change?  

After listing some anomalies of some species behaving in spring-like ways before they are ‘supposed’ to, Evans gives an interesting account of ‘phenology’.

Phenology is the study of such natural first events, and the Nature’s Calendar website, run by the Woodland Trust, is bulging with early sightings of frogspawn, tadpoles, nest-building birds, butterflies, catkins, celandines and snowdrops from 5,000 volunteers around the UK. “The natural world is giving us clear year-on-year indications that things are changing,” says Kate Lewthwaite, phenology manager at the Woodland Trust. “The timing of natural events is one of the most responsive aspects of the natural world to warming, so it is an important indicator of change.” 

McCarthy tells us something similar,

The changes and many others have been monitored in detail because in Britain there has been a renewal of the old discipline of phenology, or the study of the timings of natural events, which was favoured by the Victorians but largely abandoned by the 1950s. It has been revived by an environmental statistician, Dr Tim Sparks from the Monks Wood wildlife research centre nearHuntingdon, part of the Government’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH). Dr Sparks set up the UK Phenology Network, which has been taken over by the Woodland Trust, a charity which runs it in partnership with CEH as Nature’s Calendar, with 40,000 people from all over Britain contributing records.

Thing is, now that there are thousands of volunteers, listing this kind of thing, with more leisure time than ever before, and new forms of communication being opened up by the Internet, it is likely that there are more opportunities for spotting such anomalies. The earliestphenologists would have been rare, eccentric rich people, rather than dog-walking amateur wildlife spotters. And early signs of spring are likely to have been regarded previously as simple anomalies, whereas now, the hunt is on not only for ‘harbinger of climate calamity’, but also attribution to a single causal factor. In other words, when we’re on the lookout for climate change, anything will suffice as evidence.

The razor-sharp John Brignell of Numberwatch has, over the last few years posted some interesting thoughts on Spring madness. He is especially sceptical of phenology as a method of detecting climate change.

BBC: Spring 2006 couldn’t have been more different from 2005. Weather always varies from year to year but with climate change it is the long-term trend that is it important. What this year’s “cold” weather allows us to do is show very clearly how timing of events closely reflect temperature. Given that the average temperature for January – April was 1.5 C lower than last year, all events (average dates) were later than the same events in 2005.

Brignell: What would have been the opening paragraph if events had been earlier? It is inevitable that these embarrassing moments for the phenologists will keep recurring. Will even their media allies eventually lose patience?

The assumption made by phenologists is that spring is an ‘event’ that happens to, or in the world that we can establish by better and better measurement. But is there really a definitive measure of spring? An old English proverb tells us,

Cast not a clout till May be out. 

Spring has always been variable. And, let’s face it, so is the UK’s summer. Environmentalists look for order which has been upset, without testing the idea that order ever existed in the first place.

McCarthy continues his doom-saying.

Although many people may see the changes as quaint or charming – butterflies certainly brighten up a January day – they are actually among the first concrete signs that the world is indeed set on a global warming course which is likely to prove disastrous if not checked.

In fact, the blurring of the seasons in Britain is now as serious a piece of evidence of climate change as the rapidly increasing melting of ice across the globe, in glaciers and in the land-based and marine ice sheets of the Arctic and the Antarctic.

The phenomenon shows that a whole range of organisms is already responding actively to the greatest environmental change in human history, in a way that people – and especially politicians – are not

It is undeniable confirmation that a profound alteration in the environment, the consequences of which are likely to prove catastrophic, is already under way.

It is happening so quickly, and without people realising its true significance, because, in Britain, the major effects of climate change are initially being felt as less cold winters, rather than as hotter summers.

Did you get that? In case you missed it AN EARLY SPRING MEANS WE’RE DOOMED, AND WE’RE GOING TO DIE! Yet McCarthy can’t even get his facts straight…

Last month, that shift produced its most remarkable image yet – a photograph, taken in Dorset, of a red admiral, an archetypal British summer butterfly, feeding on a snowdrop, an archetypal British winter flower.

The Snowdrop is not an archetypal winter flower, but a spring flower, as Evans in the Guardian points out, quoting botanist Ray Woods:

The cues that trigger bloom in spring flowers are complex. “Snowdrops this year are not particularly early,” Woods says. “The reason for this is that the cue for snowdrop flowering is the temperature of the previous autumn, not the current spring. If autumn is mild, snowdrops flower later in the following spring; if it’s cold, they flower earlier. 

And the red admiral is not a summer butterfly, but in fact famous for being the last butterfly of the autumn, and earliest in the year. As the Wikipedia article on the Red Admiral tells us:

In northern Europe, it is one of the last butterflies to be seen before winter sets in, often feeding on the pale fire of ivy flowers on sunny days. The Red Admiral is also known to hibernate, re-emerging individuals showing prominently darker colourings than first brood subjects. The butterfly also flies on sunny winter days, especially in southern Europe.

Being on the Southwest coast, in the path of the warm currents, the Dorset climate itself is especially mild, and the sunniest region of the UK.

What McCarthy believes to be a harbinger of death is in fact barely even an anomaly. But why let facts get in the way of good climate change story? Butterflies and snowdrops aren’t ‘archetypes’ of a confused climate on the brink of catastrophe, but McCarthy’s article is an archetype of poorly-researched, ignorant, opportunistic and alarmist climate activism, dressed up as journalism.

Vote For Me – Or Get Cancer

Dr. Caroline Lucas – Green Member of the European Parliament for Southeast England – continues to peddle scare stories to generate political legitimacy. From a press release carrying the dramatic headline “CANCER ‘CAUSED BY POLLUTION’, MEP LUCAS TO TELL BRIGHTON WOMEN“:

CANCER is often caused by environmental factors including toxic chemicals added to household goods, pesticides and poor air quality, local Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas will tell a Brighton cancer-prevention day this Saturday, February 9th. 

This rather conjures up images of people deliberately lacing household goods with carcinogens out of sheer spite, doesn’t it? No mention of the usefulness of chemicals, nor even their effect on reducing diseases, and extending human longevity. Nor the countless improvements they have made to our lives in other areas, such as improving the quality and shelf-life of food, leading to lower prices, and better diets, and therefore longer lives. Nope. Chemicals… are bad.

An increasing number of scientists are pointing to the link between toxic chemicals – especially so-called gender-bending hormone-disruptors – and breast cancer, which kills more than 10,000 people each year in the UK alone. 

We phoned Caroline Lucas’s press office (again) to find out who these ‘increasing number of scientists’ actually are, and what they are actually saying, and what research actually supports it. They said they’d get back to us. It seems highly unlikely that anyone is deliberately putting carcinogenic compounds into your breakfast, just for fun, nor even just for profit, as our Caroline goes on to suggest:

Similarly links are being found between pesticide use and cancers. Yet these technologies are all growing apace – the Government and EU simply must exercise caution, and put human health above the profits of their friends in the companies that manufacture them. 

Ah, it’s the Government and their mates again! A chemical conspiracy. Profit standing in the way of a cancer-free population. On this point, Caroline Lucas’s press officer told us that the statement that implies a conspiracy reflects her experience in working towards the EU’s REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances) regulations. Dr. Lucas apparently believes that a deal between European Conservatives and Socialists to reduce the extent of the regulations was the result of industry lobbying; not the result of debate and discussion. She didn’t like the result, so, of course, there’s a conspiracy… The conceit of the self-righteous. In a press release from 2005, Lucas said of the compromise…

Around 75 per cent of all cancers are caused by environmental factors, mainly chemicals, and each year more than 30,000 die in the EU due to occupational exposure to substances which are carcinogenic. This directive was designed to require manufacturers to ensure their products don’t contain the chemicals responsible, at least where safer alternatives are available. 

Is there any scientific basis for the claim that 75% of cancers are caused by environmental factors to imply that industrial chemicals are ‘mainly’ responsible? The claim that 75% of cancers have environmental causes is the corollary to the theory that 25% of cancers have genetic causes. It means nothing. Cancers take years to develop, and their causes are too many to attribute to one category of risk. The complexity of many factors interacting with one another make it virtually impossible to evaluate such a hypothesis scientifically, let alone in lay terms. It is pure speculation. If the true extent of the effect of environmental cancer-causing factors were known, it would imply that all of the factors had been identified. They simply haven’t. Not in synthetic compounds, and not in naturally occurring substances. Nature is made of chemicals too, you know. And in just the same way, we’ve barely begun to understand the role of genetics in cancer. About all one can say with any certainty is 100% of cancers are the result of a complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors. And why stop at chemicals? Perhaps Lucas should be going the whole hog and banning the environment. After all, it’s not just cancer you can catch off it. Just walking through happy organic mother nature friendly fields exposes you to risk. And then again, so does locking yourself up behind your front-door, terrified that cancer is waiting for you at the top of the road. Lucas’s statistic – almost certainly bogus – is meaningless when wielded so inexpertly, and is terrifying to anyone who happens to take what she says at face value.

Lucas takes weak and controversial scientific theories out of context and uses them as scientific fact to use them to create legitimacy for her political campaign. Whether she does this consciously, or whether she is oblivious to the fragility of her argument is not our concern. The effect is the same, and she does not appear to be taking any steps to treat her words with caution, let alone get the measure of just how controversial they are. And she seems happy to terrify people to give her political cause some momentum. Her words are used to effect the same thing as the Labour Government’s claims of WMDs in Iraq being mobilised, launched and landing in the UK in 45 minutes. It is the politics of fear. Without that fear, and ‘sexed up’ scientific ‘evidence’, Caroline Lucas has absolutely nothing, nothing, nothing to offer her constituents.

The problem for Lucas is that one moment science is bad, because it makes nasty chemicals, the next it’s great, because it tells us that we’re all going to die. But what Caroline wants is not for science to develop safe chemicals which better our lives at all. She wants no chemicals, and she wants society to be organised in a specific way. She uses the science which is convenient to give that vision authority, and the fear it generates is used to create political legitimacy. The remaining science is immoral science; the result of conspiracies which dazzle us with false promises to satiate lusts for consumer lifestyles, but actually poison us. There is no middle ground coming from the Lucas Press office. Check it out for yourself.

The irony is that in making people sick with worry, she is likely to have a more deleterious effect on people’s health than industrial substances in the environment. First, because of the direct effect of such terror about getting cancer any minute now. Second, because of the distrust it breeds about useful technologies. Third, because it may have the consequence of generating policies which actually throw the chemical baby out with the toxic bathwater. Lucas wants a chemical free society. But part of the reason that cancers appear to be on the rise is that people are living longer, not dying from other diseases – thanks in part, to the chemicals Lucas is intent on banning. But also, thanks in part to the kind of medical research that Lucas wants to outlaw. Her press office still haven’t got back to us about exactly where she got the idea that ‘increasing numbers of scientists’ are pointing to the link between toxic chemicals and breast cancer, or that 75% of cancers are caused by environmental factors (or what that even means). What they did say was that Europeans for Medical Advancement have something to do with it. Europeans
for Medical Advancement, like Europeans for Medical Progress – of which Caroline Lucas is a patron – campaigns against the use of animals in medical research.

Climate Extreme Same As 100 Years Ago – Due to Climate Change. Part II.

We reported last month how the weather in Iraq was the same as it was 100 years ago, due to climate change.

According to Planet Ark – “your daily guide to helping the planet” – people in China are also suffering from harsh winter weather, the likes of which have not been seen for 100 years, also because of climate change.

The China Meteorological Administration said the weather was the coldest in 100 years in central Hubei and Hunan provinces, going by the total number of consecutive days of average temperature less than 1 degree Celsius (33.8 degrees Fahrenheit). But it expected brighter weather ahead, though fog could become a problem and temperatures at night would likely still be below freezing, slowing the thaw. “It is still necessary to remain alert for possible low temperatures, frozen rain, snow, freezing and heavy fog,” said administration head Zheng Guoguang. He added the cold snap had caught the country off guard, in an area unprepared for such heavy snow. But climate change could see more extremes in weather in China, Zheng warned. 

When will the world sit up and listen? If climate change isn’t stopped soon, we’ll see more extremes of weather like there were 100 years ago, possibly even 200 years. Possibly even 300 years ago. Maybe even 500 or 600 years ago.

People who deny that the climate is changing, in spite of the clear evidence emerging that it is the same as it was 100 years ago, are either probably sponsored by oil companies, or have been deliberately misinformed by twisted science from people who probably have been. Now, the evidence is mounting up bigger than a snowdrift. This very cold weather proves that the planet is getting hotter than it ever has been before, once and for all.

H/T: Benny Peiser.

The Independent – Where the Sun Never Shines

Prof. Philip Stott ponders the decline of the Independent newspaper…

Well, I never like the loss of media and debating outlets, but I have to say that the demise, if that were ever to happen, of the Indie would bring fewer tears to my eyes than most. As a purveyor of gloom and doom, it has been second to none. 

Indeed. There is an interesting relationship between doom and demise. That other sinking ship, for example, the UK’s Liberal Party has in recent months sought to secure its future by attempting to demonstrate that it is taking the global warming issue more seriously than its rivals.

But let’s not single out the Liberals. It’s not as if the rest of British Politics is enjoying any kind of renaissance, either. It’s sinking ships all round. Low turn-outs… Cynicism… Disengagement… Distrust… No difference of substance between the parties… Historically low party membership…

Whinings about global warming are the noises made by institutions in their death-throws. It is a profound lack of imagination and a poverty of ideas that drives them to this course of action. Pretending to be the only way to “save the planet” at “one minute to midnight” is the most desperate way to demonstrate relevance to an increasingly disinterested public; to terrify them into engaging. But what the likes of the Liberals and Independent don’t seem to realise is that nobody is buying it because it’s too easy to see that the crisis is at home, not in the sky. The politics that the Independent espouses is especially tired. Hence, they attempt to make the biggest noise about the “crisis facing the planet”. If they want to know why they are failing, they should look in a Mirror. (Or a Sun).

Six Degrees

Josie Appleton has written an excellent review of Mark Lynas’ book, Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet

Appleton takes issue with many of Lynas’ claims and dismal prophecies, and lucidly argues that catastrophic narratives offered by environmentalists may owe more to anxieties about wider problems in society than scientific observations.

As a non-climatologist, it seems logical to me that carbon dioxide emissions will cause global warming in some form – but if global warming meltdown starts in eight years’ time, I will eat my copy of Six Degrees, appendices and all. That is a conviction founded not on an analysis of Geophysical Research Letters, but on a consideration of the circumstances in which such science is produced.

Eight years is not a long time in geology. But it is a long time in environmental politics. Just six years ago, Mark Lynas wasn’t saving the planet by writing books, but by throwing custard pies at Bjorn Lomborg, who dared to challenge claims made by environmentalists.

I wanted to put a Baked Alaska in his smug face […] in solidarity with the native Indian and Eskimo people in Alaska who are reporting rising temperatures, shrinking sea ice and worsening effects on animal and bird life.

Although Lynas seems to have moved on from such childish prose and circus antics, he still claims to speak on behalf of the world’s poor (who are lumped in with the animals). But as we have pointed out before, Lynas’s solidarity only extends so far – their struggles are of less importance than balancing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. Appleton describes this degraded moral framework well, and suggests that environmentalism can only understand human society in terms of atmospheric science. ‘Carbon dioxide becomes the nexus between individuals, the thing that connects us to other people and to the future of the planet. This infuses the most banal acts with a deep moral meaning’. This offers us an important insight into how the environmental movement depends on urgency and disaster to make its moral argument.