• Following the science that changes
  • We’re all Anabaptists now
  • What’ll be the next climate change catastrophe?

Leaders around the world are withdrawing, delaying and reversing climate change policies faster than their electorates can run to the ballot box. It turns out that saving a politician’s career is more important than saving the planet, after all.

This means we are going to run the great carbon experiment to see who was right about global warming. Either the scientists are right and we will destroy the planet, or the other scientists are right and not much will happen beyond needing to mow my lawn more often.

Presuming the hysteria is much ado about nothing and will fade over time, you have to ask yourself: What’s next?

The world is full of strange historical episodes that make no sense to us now. My favourite is the Anabaptists of Münster, a town near where I was born.

The Local, an English-language website about Germany, calls them “a radical Isis-like movement” that took over a city with their rather bizarre religion 500 years ago.

Initially, the group of apocalyptic Christian preachers across Europe just caused much fainting in the street and foaming at the mouth with their roaring sermons about “The End”. But then things got interesting. “The End” really was nigh and the only place to survive would be inside the walls of Strasbourg, they told their rapidly growing followers in France, the Netherlands and Germany.

But the word of the Lord was reinterpreted when things didn’t quite catch on in Strasbourg, and the people of Münster seemed more gullible.

As the Anabaptists from around Europe came flooding into “New Jerusalem” to save themselves, the Catholic and Lutheran residents of Münster came running out. This is a good move, given that the leading Anabaptist preachers soon declared that any non-believers remaining in the city were to be executed, a bit like after Brexit.

Luckily, the Anabaptist leaders also changed their minds about this and there was only a lot of violence and three days’ worth of Anabaptist baptisms for anyone still left in the city.

Instead of the apocalypse being kept at bay by the walls of Münster, the local Catholics came to lay siege to the city, locking everyone in. At which point divine intervention struck repeatedly and inspired the Anabaptists into a rather strange series of policies.

First, they stole the property of everyone who had left the city in the purge and doled it out evenly among the remaining population. Then they took it all back again and took everyone else’s property too, imposing a form of collective ownership we now call communism.

Not everyone wanted to give up all their belongings, especially those still recovering from their recent baptism. Ironically, the more faithful locked those who didn’t comply into a church.

Book burning, blacksmith shooting, nudity, attempts to catch cannon balls bare-handed, polygamy and plenty more followed as things steadily spiralled out of control in the besieged city. It got progressively more whacko as each leader was replaced by someone more… eccentric. And yet the mania gripped an entire city of believers repeatedly enough to reaffirm their convictions over and over again.

If humans can pull that off, it makes climate change look boring…

Communism itself seems to be another bizarre ideology that gripped much of the world and managed to hang on for quite a while, despite its shortcomings. But it seems to me that few of those caught up in communism actually believed in it. They only survived due to the black market, for example. And many didn’t survive.

There were all sorts of manias during the Covid years. I’m not sure I’m allowed to describe them as such just yet, but people used to believe that social distancing, masks and vaccines would prevent them from getting Covid, for example. And they just believed the authorities that they were following “the science” on those “recommendations”. Some overzealous Covid crackdowners even had similar predictions and policies to the Anabaptist preachers.

My point is that the climate change campaign might not be that unusual in the grand scheme of human history – just another mania the world got caught up in for a bit. We’ll look back and wonder what on earth happened to make us behave so bizarrely for so long. And then we’ll go back to discussing the gender of female swimmers.

But how do such episodes end? How does the delusion lift? That’s what we should be asking ourselves now.

Cynics would point out that we simply move from one mania to another, transferring our collective tendencies to lose the plot and, thereby, conveniently forgetting about the last episode of mass delusion. The Anabaptists are still going today. God only knows how.

Another option is that a reckoning wipes out the doomsday cultists, leaving the rest of us to get on with our lives. That’s what happened to Münster, and under communism in some places – there are only so many famines people will put up with. Eventually, enough true believers end up dead and the rest escape for a different delusion.

Financial manias are good at parting gullible people with their money by sucking them into the boom and then dumping them into the bust. Only the players and the sceptical get away. But markets are a popular arena for such manias. Usually without quite the same painful fallout for everyone else, unless you were a WeWork shareholder.

Communism left lasting scars. It left East Germany impoverished compared to the West, for example. And now East Germans are revolting against the failed promises of West Germany to make them rich. And against climate change policies… maybe all this is familiar to them.

Many years ago, a German comedian toured a new indoor swimming pool in East Germany to ask the people there if they would like to thank the West German taxpayer for their leisure centre. He got nothing but confused stares.

What would the corresponding stunt look like today? I don’t think the East Germans would appreciate being asked if they’re enjoying the Energiewende. Heck, they’re supposedly willing to vote for Nazis just to escape it.

Alongside their predictions, the climate change campaign’s policies also seem to be simply failing. Germany is having to transition to coal and gas to keep the lights on, for example. This reminds me of the Children’s Crusade, when German and French kids set off for the Holy Land and got as far as the Alps and Genoa. I suppose such failure makes it unfashionable to sustain mass delusions. It must be a bit embarrassing, like being a communist in Eastern Europe today.

Democracy seems to be a good anchor for mass delusion lasting too long among the powerful and well-educated. Imagine if we had let the Covid czars and lockdown lords have their way without certain politicians and sceptical members of the public to remind.

Imagine if we let the climate change scientists have their way today. They’re going after our food too… and that, according to the farmers of Europe, is where the buck stops.

So, as the world sees just another delusion come to whatever ignominious end is in store for climate change, keep one eye on how things unfold. And what might be next?

Either that or the world really will end because of climate change. Because, in my opinion, we ain’t going to reach net zero…

Until next time,

Nick Hubble
Editor, Fortune & Freedom