Doomed to a fatal delusion over climate change
By Andrew Bolt
July 09, 2008
PSYCHIATRISTS have detected the first case of "climate change delusion" - and they haven't even yet got to Kevin Rudd and his global warming guru.
Writing in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, Joshua Wolf and Robert Salo of our Royal Children's Hospital say this delusion was a "previously unreported phenomenon".
"A 17-year-old man was referred to the inpatient psychiatric unit at Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne with an eight-month history of depressed mood . . . He also . . . had visions of apocalyptic events."
(So have Alarmist of the Year Tim Flannery, Profit of Doom Al Gore and Sir Richard Brazen, but I digress.)
"The patient had also developed the belief that, due to climate change, his own water consumption could lead within days to the deaths of millions of people through exhaustion of water supplies."
But never mind the poor boy, who became too terrified even to drink. What's scarier is that people in charge of our Government seem to suffer from this "climate change delusion", too.
Here is Prime Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday, with his own apocalyptic vision: "If we do not begin reducing the nation's levels of carbon pollution, Australia's economy will face more frequent and severe droughts, less water, reduced food production and devastation of areas such as the Great Barrier Reef and Kakadu wetlands."
And here is a senior Sydney Morning Herald journalist aghast at the horrors described in the report on global warming released on Friday by Rudd's guru, Professor Ross Garnaut: "Australians must pay more for petrol, food and energy or ultimately face a rising death toll . . ."
Wow. Pay more for food or die. Is that Rudd's next campaign slogan?
[See: New Australian Government's Climate Change Report Foretells Earthly Destruction in Biblical Proportions: Where is Charleton Heston When We Need Him?, ITSSD Journal on Energy Security, at: http://itssdenergysecurity.blogspot.com/2008/07/new-australian-governments-climate.html ].
Of course, we can laugh at this -- and must -- but the price for such folly may soon be your job, or at least your cash.
Rudd and Garnaut want to scare you into backing their plan to force people who produce everything from petrol to coal-fired electricity, from steel to soft drinks, to pay for licences to emit carbon dioxide -- the gas they think is heating the world to hell.
The cost of those licences, totalling in the billions, will then be passed on to you through higher bills for petrol, power, food, housing, air travel and anything else that uses lots of gassy power. In some countries they're even planning to tax farting cows, so there's no end to the ways you can be stung.
Rudd hopes this pain will make you switch to expensive but less gassy alternatives, and -- hey presto -- the world's temperature will then fall, just like it's actually done since the day Al Gore released An Inconvenient Truth.
But you'll have spotted already the big flaw in Rudd's mad plan -- one that confirms he and Garnaut really do have delusions.
The truth is Australia on its own emits less than 1.5 per cent of the world's carbon dioxide. Any savings we make will make no real difference, given that China (now the biggest emitter) and India (the fourth) are booming so fast that they alone will pump out 42 per cent of the world's greenhouse gases by 2030.
Indeed, so fast are the world's emissions growing -- by 3.1 per cent a year thanks mostly to these two giants -- that the 20 per cent cuts Rudd demands of Australians by 2020 would be swallowed up in just 28 days. That's how little our multi-billions of dollars in sacrifices will matter.
And that's why Rudd's claim that we'll be ruined if we don't cut Australia's gases is a lie. To be blunt.
Ask Rudd's guru. Garnaut on Friday admitted any cuts we make will be useless unless they inspire other countries to do the same -- especially China and India: "Only a global agreement has any prospect of reducing risks of dangerous climate change to acceptable levels."
So almost everything depends on China and India copying us. But the chances of that? A big, round zero.
A year ago China released its own global warming strategy -- its own Garnaut report -- which bluntly refused to cut its total emissions.
Said Ma Kai, head of China's powerful State Council: "China does not commit to any quantified emissions-reduction commitments . . . our efforts to fight climate change must not come at the expense of economic growth."
In fact, we had to get used to more gas from China, not less: "It is quite inevitable that during this (industrialisation) stage, China's energy consumption and CO2 emissions will be quite high."
Last month, India likewise issued its National Action Plan on Climate Change, and also rejected Rudd-style cuts.
The plan's authors, the Prime Minister's Council on Climate Change, said India would rather save its people from poverty than global warming, and would not cut growth to cut gases.
"It is obvious that India needs to substantially increase its per capita energy consumption to provide a minimally acceptable level of wellbeing to its people."
The plan's only real promise was in fact a threat: "India is determined that its per capita greenhouse gas emissions will at no point exceed that of developed countries."
Gee, thanks. That, of course, means India won't stop its per capita emissions (now at 1.02 tonnes) from growing until they match those of countries such as the US (now 20 tonnes). Given it has one billion people, that's a promise to gas the world like it's never been gassed before.
So is this our death warrant? Should this news have you seeing apocalyptic visions, too?
Well, no. What makes the Indian report so interesting is that unlike our Ross Garnaut, who just accepted the word of those scientists wailing we faced doom, the Indian experts went to the trouble to check what the climate was actually doing and why.
Their conclusion? They couldn't actually find anything bad in India that was caused by man-made warming: "No firm link between the documented (climate) changes described below and warming due to anthropogenic climate change has yet been established."
In fact, they couldn't find much change in the climate at all.
Yes, India's surface temperature over a century had inched up by 0.4 degrees, but there had been no change in trends for large-scale droughts and floods, or rain: "The observed monsoon rainfall at the all-India level does not show any significant trend . . ."
It even dismissed the panic Al Gore helped to whip up about melting Himalayan glaciers: "While recession of some glaciers has occurred in some Himalayan regions in recent years, the trend is not consistent across the entire mountain chain. It is, accordingly, too early to establish long-term trends, or their causation, in respect of which there are several hypotheses."
Nor was that the only sign that India's Council on Climate Change had kept its cool while our Rudd and Garnaut lost theirs.
For example, the Indians rightly insisted nuclear power had to be part of any real plan to cut emissions. Rudd and Garnaut won't even discuss it.
The Indians also pointed out that no feasible technology to trap and bury the gasses of coal-fired power stations had yet been developed "and there are serious questions about the cost as well (as) permanence of the CO2 storage repositories".
Rudd and Garnaut, however, keep offering this dream to make us think our power stations can survive their emissions trading scheme, when state governments warn they may not.
In every case the Indians are pragmatic where Rudd and Garnaut are having delusions -- delusions about an apocalypse, about cutting gases without going nuclear, about saving power stations they'll instead drive broke.
And there's that delusion on which their whole plan is built -- that India and China will follow our sacrifice by cutting their throats, too.
So psychiatrists are treating a 17-year-old tipped over the edge by global warming fearmongers?
Pray that their next patients will be two men whose own delusions threaten to drive our whole economy over the edge as well.
From: Dr. Julius Strangepork ®
7/07/2008 2:02:40 PM
Subject: re: Garnaut Report
post id: 3679386
the actual correspondence... I hope this works...
To cite this Article: (2008) 'Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink: climatechange delusion', Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 42:4, 350 (April 2008), DOI: 10.1080/00048670701881603.
Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink: climate change delusion
Joshua Wolf, Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne and Integrated Mental Health Service, Royal Children’s Hospital and Robert Salo, Integrated Mental Health Service, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia:
Clinicians caring for psychotic patients have long noted that delusional systems are determined by ideas and beliefs to which the individual has been exposed.
We describe a patient with ‘climate change delusion’, a previously unreported phenomenon.
A 17-year-old man was referred to the inpatient psychiatric unit at Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne with an 8 month history of depressed mood, social withdrawal, school avoidance, social anxiety, amotivation, poor concentration, anhedonia, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, insomnia, suicidal ideation and self-harm.
He also described hearing his own voice making derogatory and command statements, and had visions of apocalyptic events.
Admission was precipitated by acute deterioration in his condition consisting of increased emotional distress and suicidal behaviour.
Prior to admission he was treated with fluoxetine (40 mg day1) and olanzapine (5 mg day1).
The patient had also developed the belief that, due to climate change, his own water consumption could lead within days to the deaths of ‘millions of people’ through exhaustion of water supplies.
He quoted ‘internet research’ to substantiate this.
The patient described that ‘I feel guilty about it’, had attempted to stop drinking and had been checking for leaking taps in his home to prevent the catastrophe.
He was unable to acknowledge that the belief was unreasonable when challenged.
There was no history of substance abuse.
Physical examination was normal except for psychomotor retardation and superficial forearm lacerations.
The final diagnosis was major depressive disorder with psychotic features. He was treated with oral fluoxetine (60 mg day1), clonazepam (1.5 mg day1) and olanzapine (10 mg day1).
After several days his mood improved considerably and he denied persisting delusional beliefs.
The experience of hearing his own voice persisted, but he no longer found it as distressing.
There have been numerous reports of incorporation of contemporary phenomena, such as the internet , into delusional systems, but a search of Medline and Psychlit did not identify reports of delusions related to global warming.
Climate change has rapidly become a dominant issue in Australian society.
A 2007 poll found that 85% of Australians were ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ concerned about climate change, significantly more than the proportion concerned about terrorism .
This case provides another fascinating illustration of the cultural and environmental specificity of manifestations of psychosis.
1. Tan S, Shea C, Kopala L. Paranoid schizophrenia with delusions regarding the Internet. J Psychiatry Neurosci 1997; 22:143.
2. Schmid-Siegel B, Stompe T, Ortwein-Swoboda G. Being a webcam. Psychopathology 2004; 37:845.
3. Lerner V, Libov I, Witztum E. ‘Internet delusions’: the impact of technological developments on the content of psychiatric symptoms. Isr J Psychiatry Relat Sci 2006; 43:4751.
4. Gyngell A. Australia and the world: public opinion and foreign policy. Sydney: Lowy Institute for International Policy, 2007. [Cited 22 October 2007.] Available
July 9, 2008
The physicians who wrote the case report were doing what academic physicians always do: they describe manifestations of illness, then publish their findings. This is not meant to be a groundbreaking paper. The authors are not trying to name a new illness. In fact, this kind of thing has been described before, just not with the exact delusional content.
Such delusions can occur in mood disorders (depression with psychotic features) and thought disorders (schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder).
The content of the delusions may vary with the times. This is well known.
In the early 1950s, it was Communists. In the late 1950s, satellites. In the 1960s, lasers. And so on, for various persons with paranoia. What little we can see of the case report suggests that this particular patient had depression with psychotic features. The themes of apocalypse, death, self-deprivation, unworthiness, and guilt, all are consistent with psychotic depression. This could occur in unipolar or bipolar depression.
In such a young patient, I would be particularly worried about the possibility of bipolar depression.
However, for this particular person, it will be necessary to see how this evolves over time, in order to have much confidence in the diagnosis.
...After reading the full paper, I still think this describes depressive psychosis.
The "visions of apocalyptic events" and the checking behavior are suggesting of OCD. OCD, however, rarely attains a psychotic extent, and would not have the full set of vegetative signs.
Note also tha there is a tinge of grandiosity:
[H]is own water consumption could lead within days to the deaths of 'millions of people' through exhaustion of water supplies. He quoted 'internet research' to substantiate this.
That does not change the diagnostic impression, but it does add to the worry that this could be the index episode in what later evolves into bipolar disorder.
Another notable point:
The experience of hearing his own voice persisted, but he no longer found it as distressing.
Unfortunately, that is fairly common: the hallucinations become less bothersome, quickly, but do not completely resolve for a while.
Persons with conditions such as this generally require treatment with either 1) a combination of antidepressant and an antipsychotic) or 2) ECT, to have a realistic chance of improvement.