Singer and actress Miley Cyrus has declared that she will not be having any children with her new husband, Liam Hemsworth, until climate change gets resolved. “We’ve been doing the same thing to the earth that we do to women. We just take and take and expect it to keep producing. And it’s exhausted. It can’t produce,” Cyrus said. “We don’t want to reproduce because we know that the earth can’t handle it.”
Cyrus’s siren song fits a pattern: Those who warn of imminent destruction see their message amplified by the media, politicians, and celebrities. When messages that exhibit far too much certainty about a complex matter are trumpeted like this, is it any surprise that people become skeptical? Turning the effects of climate change into a story about a married couple’s desire to procreate can only make things worse.
Cyrus isn’t alone. In June, Glacier National Park removed a sign that warned that because of climate change, its glaciers will disappear by 2020. Why? Because the amount of snow in recent years exceeded forecasts and projections from earlier this century.
In June 2008, Bob Woodruff appeared on Good Morning America promoting a special known as Earth 2100 and declared that by June 2015, New York City would be underwater as the result of global warming. Other ominous predictions from this segment included $9 per gallon for gas and $12.99 for a gallon of milk — all the result of climate change. In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore predicted that “unless drastic measures to reduce greenhouse gases are taken within the next ten years, the world will reach a point of no return.” Gore said this in 2006. Peter Wadhams, a professor of ocean physics, in 2012, predicted that in four years, Arctic sea ice would be gone by 2016.
Recently, congressional newcomer Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said in an interview that the world is “going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.” After much backlash, ridicule and pushback — some from even prominent climate scientists — she walked back her remark.
“Outlandish exaggerations by alarmists on the left can do harm and provide fodder for those looking to dismiss the issue,” David Jenkins, president of Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship, told National Review. “Climate alarmism absolutely has hurt the climate change movement’s hope at meaningful policy discussions,” Benjamin Backer, president of the American Conservation Coalition, told National Review. “Climate skeptics have seen false alarming prediction after false alarming prediction, and as a result discount the entire issue as a whole,” Backer said.
Granted, the situation does work both ways. As Jenkins added: “Scientific data gets misused by both sides of [the] debate. . . . while those pressing for action may jump the gun on the timeline of impacts, those resisting action trot out wild pseudo-scientific claims that seem intentionally tailored to deceive.” But one thing is clear: Hyperbolic claims of death, doom and destruction do nothing to advance Cyrus’s preferred cause. If anything, such tactics seem to do more harm than good.