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Desperately seeking 'Mind Bombs'

By Michael Kile - posted Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Apocalypse fatigue: Reduced interest in current or potential environmental problems due to frequent dire warnings about those problems.

A new pandemic is sweeping the planet. A rogue form of climatitis, it is more virulent than Trundle-Mann’s dyscalculia, Pitfall’s paradigmnesia, Robyn’s rancoria, Steffenowsky’s thermomania, Flannery’s fever and the delirium typical of advanced cases of Gaia nervosa. Medical experts have a name for it: apocalypse fatigue syndrome, AFS.

Climate alarmists fear AFS more than their direst predictions, with good reason. There is no effective cure. Concoctions of Chinese herbs have been tried in some countries, but with ambiguous results and high patient mortality.

In the West, universities, royal societies, centres of excellence and departments of climate change are desperately seeking an AFS antidote. It is a challenging task, according to those familiar with their work.


With input from media gurus, social psychologists and armchair alarmists, they are hoping to reverse public indifference. Launching a new (Mark II) series of disturbing eco-images and videos - “mind bombs” – apparently is one plan.

Mind Bombs

MBs strive to transform complex issues into powerful emotional images. The most effective create irrational fear about the future, anxieties about retribution by Nature (Gaia), and quasi-religious feelings of guilt and redemption.

Mark I MBs were Al Gore’s convenient polar bears “stranded” on an ice flow and his destructive hurricanes; media images of “greenhouse gases” (predominantly steam) belching out of “dirty” coal-fired power stations; and at least one government’s Yes Minister attempt to mislead by branding carbon dioxide as a black and sooty carbon “pollutant”.

One manipulative MB tactic was to link the Earth’s fate with that of the young. Children, invariably innocent and vulnerable (with an obligatory cuddly toy), became big stars in the MB I series.

The opening film at the United Nations 2009 COP-15 Copenhagen Climate Conference is a classic in the genre. A concerned young girl clutches a white (polar) teddy bear. She goes on a nightmarish journey through a world of eco-mayhem and environmental catastrophe, including an (apparently climate-induced) mini-earthquake. The climax comes when she asks viewers: “please help the world”.


Background voices warn of “hundreds of millions of climate refugees” and chastise those who “still doubt the human influence on this predicted catastrophe.” The 4 minute 14 second MB ends with what some psycho-analysts would describe as an infantile fantasy: “We have the power to save the world. Now.”

Other examples appeared in a $10 million media campaign by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change in late 2009. It comprised a TV ad, four press ads and two billboard posters. About 1,000 complaints were made to the Advertising Standards Authority and communications regulator, Ofcom, denouncing most of it as misleading, scaremongering and distressing. Many argued the TV ad broke broadcast bans on political advertising.

The ASA later ruled two of DECC’s - It’s our children who’ll really pay the price -press ads, which used nursery rhymes to push climate change alarmism, were in breach of the advertising code. The language used to indicate how storms, flooding and heat-waves would increase "should have been phrased more tentatively". Yet images of UK flooding and a drought were declared “not in themselves ... exaggerated or misleading".

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First published in Quadrant Online on February 1, 2011

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About the Author

Michael Kile is author of No Room at Nature's Mighty Feast: Reflections on the Growth of Humankind. He has an MSc degree from Imperial College of Science and Technology, University of London and a Diploma from the College. He also has a BSc (Hons) degree in geology and geophysics from the University of Tasmania and a BA from the University of Western Australia. He is co-author of a recent paper on ancient Mesoamerica, Re-interpreting Codex Cihuacoatl: New Evidence for Climate Change Mitigation by Human Sacrifice, and author of The Aztec solution to climate change.

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