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

By Gareth Renowden 30/04/2014

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, 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.