Debating climate change – is it really worth the effort?

I used to passionately defend the reality of the reality of climate change and the role of human activity, but I got bored with the same flawed arguments popping up again and realised that it was futile even trying to explain things from a logical and rational perspective. It was like trying to explain to a fundamentalist Christian that if God actually exists, he/she/they/it has more important things to worry about than homosexuals getting married or playing chess with a pigeon – amusing but pointless.

Worried about climate change? You need distracting!

I stopped bothering because I believed that the people who make the big decisions and therefore the people who’s opinions actually matter, are in agreement about humans causing climate change, and in most cases they are.  The World Meteorological Office (WMO) secretary general Michel Jarraud said: “Our science is solid and it proves unequivocally that the world is warming and that this warming is due to human activities.” OK, they’re only scientists which means they’re paid to say that, but even our own Dear Leader and all round good guy John Key reckons that “the scientific consensus is clear: human-induced climate change is real and it’s threatening the planet. There are some armchair sceptics out there, but I’m not one of them.”  In the private sector PWC believe that “over the previous 50 to 100 years, there has been a large increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases …  in the atmosphere due to human activities. This increase produces an ‘enhanced greenhouse effect’ that causes Earth to heat at a fast rate, causing climate change and global warming.  Hell, even Fonterra “welcomes the commitment by dairy organisations around the world to work together to tackle climate change.” How could you tackle climate change if it wasn’t real or was out of our control?

So why does it matter that Garth the guy from down at the pub with the smokin’ hot missus and the HSV Commodore, or James, the managing partner at accounting firm Cunning, Smart & Associates, are convinced that the scientists are telling porkies?

And for that matter, why don’t you and I stop worrying? When you look at the stats, NZ produces 0.2% of global emissions whereas China and India, who are under no expectation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, produce nearly 30% – almost as much as the USA and the EU combined! Ignoring the problem is pretty tempting because we may just have passed the point of no return and, in the words of the immortal Ian Anderson “the train won’t stop going, no way to slow down.” (Off topic, this is a great You Tube video of Tull for us old rockers.) Back on topic, the International Energy Agency (IEA) give us around 5 years before climate change is irreversible and we’re all buggered, and they’re not the only ones. I can’t see changes of the magnitude needed happening in 50 years, let alone 5, so why not follow Garth’s example, buy that stonkin V8 and drown out the problem with some seriously loud rock n roll and plenty of Jack Daniels?

The only problem is that assuming that climate change is irreversible is an even bigger reason to worry about it because it means we have no alternative but to prepare for a very different world. We have no choice but to find out what is likely to happen and then we have to try and figure out how we’re going to out ways to deal with the changes we’ll almost certainly face. Governments and business leaders know what’s ahead, so they now have to get together with the scientists and work out what we need to do before it’s too late. The only problem is they’re doing nothing.

They’re doing nothing because of of people like Garth from down at the pub. There are a lot of them, and they are so completely committed to their position that if any of our political leaders started to spend their precious taxes on researching ways to minimise the damage and prepare for the inevitable they would be out of office and out of work. While the big corporates may very well know that climate change is a problem, they will defer doing anything until the last minute, or until their competition does something for fear of a negative impact on this years profits which in turn impacts on the CEOs Xmas bonus.

How the hell do we get through to Garth down at the pub and then get him to put pressure on the world’s leaders? Buggered if I know, maybe that bottle of Jack Daniels isn’t such a bad idea.


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