by Andy West
“Climate change catastrophism is a cultural disease haunting Western society. Andy West’s excellent study of this problem explains the different drivers of this disease. It is an important contribution to a debate where reason must prevail.” – Frank Furedi, emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent
The rear-cover synopsis reads:
“Attempts to explain attitudes to climate change, and the refusal of large parts of society to accept the idea of an imminent catastrophe, have largely foundered. This ground breaking book overturns the existing literature, developing a powerful new model of public attitudes based on the interaction of traditional religion and a new culture – a new faith – of climate catastrophism, which is instinctively accepted or rejected. At its centre is a series of measurements of public opinion, culled from major international polls, which make a strong case that society is now in the grip of a major new religion. That case is made still more powerful because the model is able to predict real-world outcomes, such as the deployment of renewables and the prevalence of climate protest groups in different countries.
The book ends with a warning. Cultures can bind societies together and cause great civilisations to grow and prosper. But they can also lead them to disaster. If society is truly in the grip of a new cultural entity, we should be very concerned.”
“I HAVE been working in climate and energy for nearly 15 years, and it’s fair to say that it’s not often I find something that makes me radically change the way I look at the domain. But a new book, by Andy A West, has done just that.”
My book overlaps with some social aspects explored in Judith’s book, including the catastrophe narrative, the social nature of consensuses, and the highly tangled territory where group biases interact with, and damage, the enterprise of science. However, regarding the social aspects generally I see my book as exposing the ultimate root cause of the biases and the deep social need for arbitrary consensus. It does not explore much detail about what specific institutions and efforts are undermined by which biased advocate individuals or organisations, and indeed it does not delve into climate science or the IPCC procedures at all (see the note at the end of this post). The main presence of climate catastrophism is outside of science, and its culture can be characterised and measured from its footprint in global publics (inclusive of public authorities). However, climate catastrophism works to undermine all institutions that provide ‘rationality at social scale’, including democracy, the law (chapter 14), and science (which is considered generically).