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Study: climate alarmists represent 30% of OCD psychiatric patients

A large fraction of the most notorious climate alarmists are "only in it for the gold", if I use the self-description of one of them, Dr Michael Tobis. This climate change analyst (thanks, Willie!) is an example of such a job.

However, there certainly exist people who have genuinely been brainwashed and who believe that a dangerous climate change is right behind the corner.

In the real world, this man is "in it for the gold" but this is how he would look like if he were a genuine believer.

Almost all of us know that these people are psychiatrically ill but many of us have been ignorant about the technical term for the disease that manifests itself as climate alarmism. A new published research at the University of Sydney fills this hole and sheds some light on my question:

The impact of climate change on obsessive compulsive checking concerns (Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, a peer-reviewed expert journal)

Study reveals climate obsessions (Sky News, AU)

Worriers have climate change anxiety: study (ABC, AU)

Study reveals climate obsessions (Big Pond News)

How the media drives obsessive obsessions (The Australian)
Dr Mairwen Jones and her co-authors studied 50 patients with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and looked for the abundance of climate alarmism in this ill sample. The result?

The main result is that 14, or 28 percent, of the patients suffer from the AGWOCD (anthropogenic global warming obsessive compulsive disorder). These patients were, among other things, checking their appliances "to reduce global warming". That's a pretty high percentage. The global warming hoax has become such a powerful component of the mental pathogenes in our environment that it is beginning to prevail in a whole major mental disease.

According to a sentence in the abstract of the paper, "less frequent concerns [than global warming] included pets dying of thirst and one participant was concerned about house damage due to floors cracking, pipes leaking; roof problems and white ant activity. Compulsions included checking and rechecking pet water bowls, light switches, taps, stoves, skirting boards, pipes, roofs and wooden structures." Climate change clearly has some competition but it is dominating at this point.

People with OCD are checking light switches because they are worried about their carbon footprint. Picture and caption by ABC.

Some polls indicate that there are dozens of percent of the people in the industrial world who have been brainwashed to take the climate panic seriously. I am not sure whether there are hundreds of millions of available beds in the mental asylums so these statistics may pose a bit of a potential logistical problem at some point. So far, we face no problems of this kind because various institutions of the European Union have teamed up with the psychiatric asylums to store many of these patients.

Although the treatment costs about half a trillion dollars per year at this point, the patients thrive. They are allowed to turn off (and ban) not only light bulbs but also the airlines across Europe and Asia. You may decide whether it is an appropriate cost.

America has also introduced a socialist healthcare system, the so-called Obamacare, but it is still not universal enough for patients such as James Hansen to afford a good mental asylum.

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snail feedback (6) :

reader alberto said...

Mr Luboš Motl:

I follow your blog because I find string theory fascinating, and specifically the latest LHC results.

However, I strongly dislike the continuous attacks made here against climate science. How can a string theory physicist deny something so basic and well established as is the greenhouse effect and the inevitable warming caused by the billion of tons of greenhouse gases that fossil fuels burning dump into the atmosphere?

And the last article is particularly offensive, because it dismisses people worried about climate change as “psychiatrically ill” and pretend to use a study of the University of Sydney , “ The impact of climate change on obsessive compulsive checking concerns” about OCD anxiety disorder against them. Well, I am one of them.

You say that:

“Almost all of us know that these people are psychiatrically ill but many of us have been ignorant about the technical term for the disease that manifests itself as climate alarmism (…)The main result[of the study] is that 14, or 28 percent, of the patients suffer from the AGWOCD (anthropogenic global warming obsessive compulsive disorder)”.

This is nonsense. The study is interesting because it shows how a global crisis can hit the mental health of vulnerable people. But it is concerned about having anxiety about climate change (and associated obsessions and compulsions) , not the belief in the reality of global warming.

I know well this because I suffer of OCD since I was 12 years old, 12 years ago. And I can get severely worried for anything, particularly infectious diseases. And I follow the global warming crisis closely, and after extensive and continuous research I found the scientific basis of it as strong as are the basis of the theory of evolution, the theory of the big bang, the core-accretion model of planetary formation, etc. Yet I feel no anxiety for this, because I know that my carbon footprint as a middle class student in Lima, Peru is minuscule, and I cannot do much for solving climate change now because I am a powerless student. At most I can turn off the light when I leave the room. However, as a future geologist, I will have an environmentally responsible economic life (like buying a fuel-efficient car) and I probably will be studying climate change impacts in my country, among other things.

Finally you said:

“I am not sure whether there are hundreds of millions of available beds in the mental asylums so these statistics may pose a bit of a potential logistical problem at some point.”

OCD, like other anxiety disorders, is a very common illness. It affects 1-2% of the world population. Anxiety disorders affects almost 20-25% of the world population. People with OCD or any anxiety disorder are not "dangerous crazy people" to put in prisons like mental asylums (that in some European countries are being closed, by the way) Medication and psychological therapy are enough. No need then to billions of beds and thousands of hospitals.

To close, we must have respect to others even if one doesn’t agree with them, and not fall into personal attacks. This includes to not distort the conclusion of some studies to use them to attack who thinks different than you.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Alberto,

I am not denying the greenhouse effect; this is just an insulting lie spread by the AGW ideologues about all inconvenient people ("skeptics"). If you honestly study this question, you will find out that I know about the greenhouse effect - and I have written about the greenhouse effect - more than 50 average climate alarmists combined.

What I am against is the idea that something dangerous is occuring to this climate now - in this decade, if you wish, and that people should compulsively or obsessively "fight" against a harmless and innocent gas because of that.

Otherwise concerning your OCD, that's bad news but not a surprising one. It was one of my points that those who spread climate alarm and want to regulate the flow of CO2 - those of them who are not in the business to achieve profit and personal advantages - are sufferers from an OCD-like disease.

So your official admission that you have indeed been diagnosed from OCD combined with your manifest belief in the AGW alarmist lies is just a particular, very explicit anecdotal evidence that my main thesis is right. Other "sincere" climate alarmists should visit a psychiatrist and undergo the same test.

Be sure that I know something in practice about psychiatric diseases - not from myself - so don't take my words lightly.

I have nothing against helping and treating psychiatric patients and if you knew my life, you would know that these are not just words, but things must have certain limits. At the end, it's important for the healthy people not to forget that people like you are ill. If we did forget, the health of the civilization would be at stake, too.

People who are compulsively afraid of cracking roofs or infections also build on a justifiable "seed of truth", using Monckton's words. Houses sometimes do crack and infections sometimes do occur (I ate ham last night that wasn't quite fresh). But those are not reasons to chase people from the buildings or ban their contact or punish those who emit CO2. A society adopting such policies is a society controlled by psychiatrically ill people of your kind and that's just wrong.

Anxiety disorders may have various degrees, no doubt about it, but what's your point? It's still true that climate change worries - which also have various degrees of strength - are currently a major part of the anxiety disorders. It's clear that people beneath some threshold of worries don't belong to hospitals. But this statement is very far from the statement that we should actually listen to these people and/or treat them as equals (or even top scientists). They may not be ready for a hospital but they still suffer from an anxiety disorder. You clearly do as well. If you are obsessed by the idea that the change of the absolute temperature by 0.2% per century (hypothetically hiding in lots of noise) which may have been partly caused by rising CO2 is analogous to the Big Bang, you're a hardcore example of an AGWOCD sufferer. Other people's CO2 footprint may be 5 times larger than yours but its impact on the climate is still 5 times negligible equals negligible and only an ill person may be constantly thinking about ways to "undo" this impact.

All the best

reader alberto said...

Mr Luboš Motl:

My point is that have a series of obsessions(worries, fears and ideas that are very difficult to remove), that obsessions are about infectious diseases, accidents, personal life,etc. But I do NOT feel anxiety when I study climate change, so that is not an obsession.

Quite the opposite. To study Earth climate is to me something like you studying your beloved superstrings. I study geology, and so I know a lot of how Earth suffers great geophysical and climate changes, that can be reconstructed using the geological and fossil record of the last 4500 million years.

And in a certain sense, AGW is like TeV-scale quantum gravity (large extra dimensions, micro black holes in colliders and all that), because natural climate change is almost always a gradual process (for human standards). The temperature can vary more than 10ºC, but that takes hundreds of thousands if not millions of years. Now we burn all that carbon that nature accumulated for hundreds of millions of years. This surely will make changes that for geological standards are super-fast(some, like ice sheet melt, are already happening). In just 200 years of burning coal and oil, we erased 15 million years of CO2 decline. 15 million years ago the temperature was several degrees warmer than today, and the sea level several meters above current sea level.

That may be interesting. One can study how the collapse of an ice sheet occurs, how oceanic oscillations are influenced by AGW, the relative importance of the sun, volcanic aerosols, and antropogenic aerosols and greenhouse gases; one can compare the observations with the model predictions and one can even make a radiative budget of the planet heat (that is mostly in the ocean).

All this, that would take normally multiple generations to follow, is seen in a single life. This is to a geologist what a micro-black hole in the lab (something that some years ago, before the ADD and Randall Sundrum large extra dimension model would be considered a sci-fi ridiculous dream) would be for theoretical physicists like you.

There is however one big, horrible fact: all this will happen not in a lab or in a distant star. This will happen (and is already beginning to happen) in our planet, were we live.

There were a few abrupt climate changes in the past, and those caused massive extinctions. Some associated with asteroid impacts (like the K-T extinction) but others, like the Permian-Triassic(P-T) extinction, were associated with the liberation of enormous quantities of greenhouse gases. In the P-T event, there was one million years of mega volcanic eruptions in Siberia that occurred in a coal deposit. A lot of the CO2 and CH4 do not come from the lava, but from the burning coal (sound familiar?). Was the worst biological holocaust in earth life history: 90% of the species went extint.

Now there are not mega volcanoes, but we are burning all the fossil fuels we find. There is enough coal and unconventional oil for other 100-200 years of extraction. The release of all carbon in coal and oil can be even bigger than the P-T event, and not in million year, but in 100-200 years.

This will have consecuences . This is not a funny experiment. Most life cannot adapt to such big changes in so little time. And for us there is another vulnerability : modern civilization occurred in the almost stable climate of last 10 000years. It grown on this stable climate. If there is abrupt climate change, the extreme weather patterns, like the droughts and the floods, and sea level rise will plunge billions of people into total misery. We are talking about the lifes of these billions of people, specially the poor who are the most vulnerable to extreme weather and sea level rise.

So this apparently interesting phenomenon is actually a tragedy that makes a moral imperative demanding and struggling for a different economy, not based on fossil fuels but on the abundant and renewable energy of the sun, wind, geothermal heat, gravitational potential energy (hydropower) ,etc.

reader Luboš Motl said...

You wrote: "...that obsessions are about infectious diseases, accidents, personal life,etc. But I do NOT feel anxiety when I study climate change, so that is not an obsession."

Fine, what's your problem with my article then? It says very clearly that 30% of the OCD worries are about global warming. It means that 70% are about something else. AGW is the largest group of these worries but it is no "overwhelming majority" in any sense.

Otherwise I don't want to become an expert in your exact OCD symptoms; it's just not my job OK? Why do you think it should be important for us?

"And in a certain sense, AGW is like TeV-scale quantum gravity..." - OK, this "analogy" between two vastly different topics surely sounds silly but when it comes to the conclusions, I have no problems with that analogy. I think that a significant (more than 2 deg C per CO2 doubling) man-made warming is about as unlikely as TeV-scale quantum gravity and at the low edge, the warming would still have no serious consequences.

I don't believe either scenario. The QG scale is almost certainly closer to the Planck scale than the TeV scale. There are many kinds of reasons.

Your geology and/or atmospheric science is as much crackpottish as your quantum gravity. The excess CO2 gets reabsorbed by oceans and the biosphere in less than a millennium which also undoes all temperature effects if any (the CO2-temperature correlation in the ice core record is a proof; it shows that CO2 follows temperature with a 800-year lag in average, that's the time needed for CO2 to readjust to the temperature). At any rate, there are many uncertain things about the climate science but there's no doubt that CO2 has no effects on the climate in the long term - geological time scales etc.

But it clearly makes no sense to try to explain amy of these things to you because you suffer from OCD and you just need some hysteria and big claims of this kind for your well-being.

Sorry, I won't read the rest of your text about extinctions and all this garbage and leave this junk to your psychiatrist. I have enough problems of that even if I don't add extra work like that through this blog.


reader alberto said...

Mr Luboš Motl:

My apologies if I am too insistent, but some things I think should be clarified:

1)About the OCD study, you asked me:

"Fine, what's your problem with my article then?" (that I am in the 70% of OCD patients not disturbed by the climate change problem)

Well, that proves my point. My OCD has nothing to do with my opinion about climate science.

My problem is that you, however, in your attempt to attack climate scientists and the people that know this problem(global warming) , take the results of a study out of context to say that the people that are "sincerely" concerned about climate change are crazy mentally ill people.

That is not only false(as the fact that I do NOT feel anxiety related to climate change proves, at least in my case), but offensive.

OCD is an anxiety disorder, not a psychotic disorder. Anxiety disorders do not make one lose the contact with reality, because the people affected realize that the fears suffered are irrational (or at worse are not completely sure that are irrational), so they will not act as if they believe that their fears are real.

2)What I wanted to say with my comparison between AGW and TeV-scale quantum gravity is that in both cases theories normally only testable by inference and indirect evidence, turn out to be directly observable in nature or in the lab. For quantum gravity, that is still a dream. Climate science, instead, has an interesting history. Most climate scientists would have treated AGW as a possible but unlikely event 40 years ago. Since then, however, the evidence of climate change, both present and past, have piled up, and now there is an overwhelming evidence of it.

To say that modern climate science is a fraud is like saying that biological evolution, the big bang , the standard model of particle physics, and other mainstream science are frauds. Hopefully string theory in 40 years will achieve that status (of course I am not calling superstrings a fraud, just saying that today is still an untested theory, like Darwinism was 150 years ago, and AGW 40 years ago) AGW would be a geologist dream (like TeV- QG would be for a physicist) if the consecuences weren’t extremely dangerous for the human population (specially the poor people)

3)Finally, my statements about past global extinctions are not “garbage”, “junk for my psychiatrist”. They are mainstream historic geology and paleontology that can be found in any article or book about that topic.

Greetings from Peru,


reader Luboš Motl said...

"My OCD has nothing to do with my opinion about climate science."

It depends on whether you or someone else is actually worried about an imminent climate change.

If you're obsessed with a climate threats to the extent that you find it appropriate to spam my blog with tons of obnoxious comments, then it suggests that you *are* compulsively obsessed with the climate hysteria, and you're one of the best examples that OCD has *everything* to do with the climate hysteria. That was my point.

And the point of the article I quoted was that climate hysterics represent 30% of the OCD patients.

You: "OCD is an anxiety disorder, not a psychotic disorder. Anxiety disorders do not make one lose the contact with reality, because the people affected realize that the fears suffered are irrational (or at worse are not completely sure that are irrational), so they will not act as if they believe that their fears are real."

In that case, you suffer from a psychotic disorder because you have clearly lost contact with reality. You may probably suffer from both, too.

Sorry, I won't read your mentally sick fantasies about quantum gravity, climate change, and extinction. Ask your psychiatrist who's paid for listening to you, OK?