Climate Myths and Legends: Pygmalion

Some time far, far in the future, digital archeologists and historians will try to resurrect and understand science and civilisation in the early days of The Space Age…

Pygmalion by Jean-Baptiste Regnault (Source: Wikipedia)

In the late 20th Century Pygmalion was a scientist[1] who was disgusted at the way man behaved towards nature (or Gaia) and believed that what was commonly called ‘progress’ was destroying Earth[2]. To try to show what man was doing to the Earth, Pygmalion built a computer model that described the climate of Earth and showed what would happen to it in future if humans did not mend their ‘polluting’ ways[3]. The model was at first limited by the primitive nature of computing at the time, but as computing power grew, so the model was refined.

The model was so complex and realistic that Pygmalion and his followers[4] believed its outputs were real.  Some scientists[5], however, were critical of the model and its predictive power, but Pygmalion became so enamoured of the model that he and his followers could not see its flaws, and lived in fear of its catastrophic projections.  They began to stifle any opposing views and galvanised worldwide support for action to try to reduce the use of energy[6] and so prevent the looming catastrophe.

For a time belief that the model was perfect held sway, and many people fell under Pygmalion’s spell and his assertion that an apparent increase in disastrous natural events was a portent of worse to come. From what we can decipher of the period, Pygmalion and his followers almost succeeded in having carbon dioxide declared a pollutant, however, events after that are unclear. A period of financial and political turmoil ensued, requiring the abandonment of many of the grand schemes to reduce carbon dioxide production. In addition it seems that Pygmalion and his followers failed to predict the early 21st Century reduction in the activity of the sun.  This contributed to changes in the climate that were not foreseen in the projections of Pygmalion’s model and the movement rapidly lost influence and is abruptly lost from historical records.

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Footnotes
[1] Emerging evidence from reconstructions of contemporary text suggests this was actually a widespread movement of many scientists.
[2] There were many aspects to the perceived destruction, however chief among them was the belief that heat was being trapped in Earth’s atmosphere by a cascading effect (some texts use the word ‘forcing‘ in this context) originating with increased levels of the trace gas carbon dioxide.
[3] There are numerous stories in this vein – some, such as the biblical Jonah, focusing on moral behaviour, to the many ‘scares’ associated with the development of human technical capability at the end of the second millennium.
[4] Variously called the Global Warming, Climate Change or Climate Disruption movement.
[5] Also many in the general population, who termed themselves ‘skeptics’, but were frequently prejudicially called ‘deniers’ by Pygmalion and his followers.
[6] The dominant source of energy at the time came from the burning of coal and oil, which at the time were abundant, although becoming more costly to extract. These had fuelled over 200 years of growth and prosperity. The ‘Climate Change’ movement created enough fear of ‘Peak oil’ that society began to seek alternatives.


Inspired by Eduardo Zorita: Don’t Fall In Love With Your Models And Lose Sight Of Observations! at No Tricks Zone.

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6 Responses to Climate Myths and Legends: Pygmalion

  1. j ferguson says:

    Verity,
    I liked this very much, although I continue to think that this thing won’t go away without some political cataclysm of the sort and magnitude of the one that made eugenics socially unacceptable among the chatterati.

    It might be interesting to speculate on the form(s) required to grow climatism into not just an expression of political outlook but an engine for creation of a super-state. This seems likely very difficult because the methods which worked in the twenties and thirties are unlikely to work today.

    • Verity Jones says:

      I’m glad you liked it. I wasn’t 100% sure it would work well enough around the central idea, but it seemed to come together. And yes I am far from confident of the end I described, but what do you do with a future that is not yet written when you are supposedly recording it from even further hence.

      My own political awakening has been very recent and while I have heard of The Bilderberg Group, Agenda 21, the Club of Rome and such like, my grasp of it all is still poor and I would not attempt such speculation as you suggest myself.

  2. Chuckles says:

    Love it Verity, I think you shoud apply for an Arts Council grant to enable you to complete and stage this groundbreaking work (or should that be hair or atmosphere splitting, or gas-generating perhaps?).
    Need to work some Postmodernism and victim groups in there don’t you think?
    And where could the opening night be? UEA? Met Office headquarters? Stonehenge? Piltdown?

    Be sure to mention Climate Change and Modelling in the grant application, and don’t forget to include my usual token consultants fee/commission in there.

    🙂

    • Verity Jones says:

      Do they still have Arts Council grants? Maybe I could get a PUS (Public Understanding of Science) grant, if they have them. Oh sorry I forgot, it’s not really science 😉

  3. mwhite says:

    [7] Ironically all this occured at the end of the interglacial period known as the holocene.

    Reply – good idea – thank you. V.
    Reply#2 – I didn’t add it as anupdate as it would mean another supposition that the Holocene has (er will have) ended by the time this was (er is, er, will have been – er – I think I need more coffee) wriiten and IIRC it is suggested the Holocene could end ‘tomorrow’ or go on for another 10,000 years. But thanks for the suggestion. I was able to get my head around the timeline when I was wrting the original post, but not this morning. Perhaps I shouldn’t have had that ‘just another’ beer last night 😉

  4. Alexander says:

    A correction.

    Most recent research (Emeris et al 2744, Johannsen et al 2745) indicate that the Pygmalion and his followers did not lose influence, and present serious arguments that the rise of the Second Global Cooling Scare of 2020-2050 was organized by generally the same people.

    Reply: LOL 😀 V.

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