Postcards from la la land: David Archibald and the four horsemen of the cooling apocalypse

by Gareth on April 30, 2014

A day or two ago, my interest piqued by a link that popped up in a news feed, I started to investigate the strange climate world of Australian oil man David Archibald. It was a weird journey down the rabbit hole of climate denialism, and the further down into the dark I went, the stranger the things I encountered. According to Archibald, rapid cooling caused by the sun going to sleep is going to usher in a biblical apocalypse of starvation, war and mass death. Even worse, we all have a moral duty to give up eating Chinese food. Sod climate cooling, I will bow to no man in my love for Peking Duck and hoisin sauce. This is serious stuff Archibald’s preaching.

The four horsemen of Archibald’s apocalypse are severe, solar-driven cooling, which will cause food shortages and population collapse in the Middle East (enter horseman two), energy supply changes driven by high oil prices (horseman three), and cantering in fourth place just before the denouement, Pakistan’s nuclear weapon programme going rogue. Then, with the horses out of the way, things start to get seriously weird…

Here’s an excerpt from a lecture he gave in Washington DC a few weeks ago (full text here and a video here):

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse come from the Book of Revelation, the last chapter of the Bible. The Book of Revelation also warns of another beast with these words:

And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

What has seven heads? The Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. In 2012, the number of members of that committee was reduced from nine to seven, no doubt to properly align with Biblical prophecy.

Here’s another revelation: China is going to invade Japanese territory in the next couple of years and start a shooting war, and the only way we can stop it is by boycotting China and Chinese products.

To be completely morally virtuous, you will have to make the effort required to make sure that nothing of Chinese origin ever enters your possession. If you slip in that regard, have momentary lapses in checking labels perhaps, you will contribute to the death of a Japanese, or a Filipino, or even a US serviceman.

When our souls are all weighed in the balance, those who boycotted China in 2014 will sit at the right hand of God and those who persisted in feeding the Beast will be cast into the outer darkness.

So far, so unhinged. Can it get any worse? Oh yes… At the bottom of his lecture notes, Archibald helpfully provides a link to a distinctly amateurish web site he’s created called www.boycott-china.net, wherein he writes:

…anyone who loves peace and abhors war should do their utmost to avoid buying Chinese-made goods. Beyond that, avoid giving custom to businesses that stock Chinese-made goods. Even avoid Chinese food. Make that a rule for living.

You’ll have to prise my Chinese-made iMac, iPad and iPhone out of my cold, dead fingers after I’ve gorged myself to death on Peking Duck and pork buns before that’ll happen round here. Or in the USA, I should imagine, because it’s not just Apple products that are designed in California and made in the land of the seven headed red dragon.

Luckily that will not be necessary, because the the first of the four sorry nags that Archibald builds his case around is not even a non-starter, it’s in the horse box on the way to the knackers yard. Archibald’s theories about a coming severe cooling hold no water — as Skeptical Science patiently and carefully explains here — but he appears not have noticed. He makes grandiose claims to have “founded the field of solarclimatology which uses solar cycle length to predict climate up to 25 years in advance”, and — shades of the brilliant, if as yet unrealised medical discoveries of the discount Viscount, Christopher Monckton — also claims to have invented a treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia1.

Archibald has — of course — written a book elaborating his thesis, and he’s promoting it for all he’s worth. Titled Twilight Of Abundance – Why Life In The 21st Century Will Be Nasty, Brutish And Short, it was published last month by right wing US publisher Regnery2. The cover describes Archibald as a “visiting fellow” of the Institute Of World Politics (IWP), a neocon “graduate school of national security and international affairs” in Washington DC that has strong links with right wing think tanks. Archibald even managed to get a slot on Fox News to push his cooling barrow.

In a sane world, Archibald’s absurd theories would see him dismissed out of hand as a crank, yet he’s being touted around the American right as someone worth listening to. His perverse mixture of end times imagery and dog-whistled “yellow peril” racism clearly finds some sort of audience amongst the people trying to shape Republican opinion and policy. One can only hope that no-one who takes him seriously gets anywhere near US policy-making. For my part, I’m going to be stocking up with several years supply of hoisin sauce…

  1. You might suspect he’s taking the piss, but I couldn’t possibly comment… []
  2. Regnery also publishes such paragons of climate denialism as James Delingpole and Christopher Horner. []

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

John Russell April 30, 2014 at 4:08 am

And they call us ‘alarmist’!

nigelj May 1, 2014 at 9:27 am

Yes they call us alarmist. At least we are alarmist with some reasons, rather than a combination imaginary theories, and streams of disjointed consciousness about world events.

Kiwiiano April 30, 2014 at 9:22 am

To be fair, he may have an element of truth about ” Twilight Of Abundance – Life In The 21st Century Will Be Nasty, Brutish And Short,”
At the headlong speed we are approaching the roadblocks of loss of cheap energy and depleting resources, with little or no sign of an vision by political leaders beyond the next elections, that is pretty much on the cards.
(No I haven’t read the book, absolutely no intentions to.)

Thomas May 1, 2014 at 11:09 am

This NASA funded study is interesting.
http://www.atmos.umd.edu/~ekalnay/pubs/2014-03-18-handy1-paper-draft-safa-motesharrei-rivas-kalnay.pdf

It has been talked about here:
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/mar/14/nasa-civilisation-irreversible-collapse-study-scientists

A very important reason to invest in to post-fossil fuel technology now, while society is still able to produce the necessary goods and services, is the significant probability that once the collapse scenarios envisioned by the paper and many other before them, notably the Club of Rome back in the 70ties, unfolds, the means and the industrial and economic infrastructure to do so, may be in free-fall, and unable to produce anything of any sufficient quantity to make a difference.

andyS May 1, 2014 at 11:41 am

So your apocalypse is reasonable, but Archibalds is in lala land?

Macro May 1, 2014 at 4:06 pm
Rob Painting May 1, 2014 at 8:17 pm

That you think delusional rants based on the bible are somehow equivalent to scientific evidence says a lot about you Andy.

Macro May 1, 2014 at 9:07 pm
andyS May 1, 2014 at 9:55 pm

I missed the biblical references. However, despite my dislike of anti Chinese xenophobia, my recent rhetorical suggestion that climate activists should boycott Chinese products met with some approval here. So I do see some symmetry in the arguments despite the conflicting background assertions.

bill May 2, 2014 at 11:54 am

I missed the biblical references

TRANSLATION: I did not read the post.

andyS May 2, 2014 at 12:03 pm

The biblical references were used as an analogy. I don’t think Archbald was implying that the Bible was driving his views.

Maybe solar physics is a religion now?

He may be wrong, but an impending solar minimum is a testable hypothesis so fits the definition of science by my standards.

bill May 2, 2014 at 12:51 am

And quelle surprise – andy doesn’t know the difference between faith and evidence.

But, by all means, continue defending such bizarre outbursts – saves us pointing out your level of credibility, after all…

Gary Young May 1, 2014 at 4:16 pm

“So your apocalypse is reasonable, but Archibalds is in lala land?”

Well, yes. Anyone who understands the difference between scientific fact and mindless drivel would recognise this.

andyS May 1, 2014 at 4:40 pm

It doesn’t really matter does it? If society is going to collapse and everyone is going to die, the reason behind it is of little relevance.

bill May 2, 2014 at 11:57 am

Wha’!? Golly, Golly, try engaging with the world outside your head for a while…

tussock May 3, 2014 at 3:29 pm

So, what’s the policy on banning trolls who use a golliwog icon? I am somewhat more offended by the constant trolling of a site pointing to meatspace denialist trolls, but it doesn’t help.

As for Archibald: conspiracy theorists are everywhere, and it’s not like any of them were crazy enough to pick the NSA was the one behind so many security bugs, stranger place and all that … the difference being that Archibald has enough lunch money to buy friendly news coverage and politicians for his racist rants.

andyS May 3, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Do you find my Mr Golly picture offensive? It is a photo I took of a soft toy I bought in a shop in Dunsandal.

On the other hand, your avatar is one of a ginger haired person, that I find offensive

bill May 4, 2014 at 11:22 am

Oh come on, andy, admit it, you’re thrilled!

You chose the icon in hope of stirring up trouble, and have been disappointed at the lack of results hitherto (because you’re pretty-damn transparent to the regulars.)

Kiwiiano May 3, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Golly, I thought we were just coming out of a solar minimum (when global temperatures continued to rise in spite of a quiet sun). Or is that just the usual ploy when climate deniers are on the back foot: change the subject, introduce another befuddle factor. (Climate Denier’s Handbook, ch 1 pg 3)

Yes, we are staring down the muzzle of “society is going to collapse and everyone is going to die”, particularly if trolls persist in spreading FUD and confusion. We need to all focus on what’s best for civilization in the long term, not what’s needed to win the next elections or making more money than anyone else.

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