One psychologist who works with climate scientists told Richardson they suffer from “pre-traumatic stress,” the overwhelming sense of anger, panic, and “obsessive-intrusive thoughts” that results when your work every day is to chart a planetary future that looks increasingly apocalyptic."Cause or effect" is a very rude way of putting this problem. However, serious depression is often a psychological problem having deep roots in genetic hard-wiring and in upbringing. Do people with mental illness, or even specific personality traits, get into certain professions instead of others? Yes.
Does environmental activism attract people with a particular set of personality traits, including a tendency towards a particular set of "psychological problems?" Why not?
I want to make a difference.
A number of years ago, the "media" transitioned from reporting to journalism. Reporting is "just the facts." Journalism emphasizes "the narrative" where facts are used (or not used) to support a prefferred narrative. Surveys showed that people who went into journalism went into the field because they wanted to "make a difference" or "change the world" (as did many people heading into law school). Watergate (bringing down the EVIL Nixon administration) was the Morning Star that guided the quest to change the world.
This attracts a certain kind of personality. Sticking to the facts requires integrity and an analytical ability to sift truth from lies. A narrative requires only a fact or two, then a skill at creative writing. It favors a personality dependent one's emotional state. Winning the fight to change the world rewards one emotionally. Failing to do so damages one's self-esteem.
Recently, some of the blogs I read have been posting a "100-word" short story "contest" headed by a photograph for inspiration. From the facts shown on the photograph an amazing number of different scenarios can be spun. So it is with facts that support the journalists' narratives.
The real pollution issues that surfaced in the 1960's and 1970's, with the attendent environmentalist hysteria, helped produce a generation of scientists who wanted to make a difference. This was good. The real crises drove the free market economies to deal with the problem, vastly reducing pollution in the West.
Politically, however, pollution in free-market economies was seen as the proof that they were evil. Free-market economies therefore had to be overthrown and replaced by command economies (run by experts, ie., scientists) like in the communist East. This was despite the fact that the communist economies of China, the Soviet Union, and its satellites in Eastern Europe produced some of the most toxically polluted places on Earth.
Western, free-market economies adapted and reduced pollution. The communist economies of the East did not.
However, the real crisis of environmental pollution has been abated and its effects ameliorated. Culture and law keep vigiliant watch on the environment.
This is not to say that pollution is no longer a problem. It does mean that most of the easy fixes have been made. Remaining issues, such as non-point source pollution of the Chesapeake Bay, are going to require very expensive, very intrusive regulations to fix. The political will to pay for these, both in money and vastly reduced freedom, does not exist.
What does this have to do with global warming?
Of course scientists advocating the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming [CAGW] hypothesis are depressed:
1) Scientificallly: There has been no warming for almost 20 years, their hypothesis has been falsified, and they know it. How depressing is that?
2) Politically: The CAGW hypothesis has always been a means to end: political power. The "right" people (that is, the scientists) need to be in power in order to tell people how to live. A free market economy that has millions of ordinary people making billions of decisions on how to run their own lives is anathema. Ordinary people do not believe them and will not give them all the political power they feel they deserve in order to make a difference. How depressing is that?
3) The political class likes CAGW because the fear of catastrophe helps to put more power into their hands, as well as vast opporunities for graft. Of course, the political class sees the scientists merely as willing tools, who will be disposed of when they do not matter any more. And the scientists know it on some level. How depressing is that?
Hat tip: Instapundit