Downer • 17 March 2007 • The SnowBlog
Clare at TFP happened to mention she wasn't totally convinced that humans are responsible for knackering the climate. She spoke on the subject at a recent publishing conference. Publishing? Climate change? It made me realise that it's a question whose time has well and truly come. By the end of this year, I think this planet will have made up its mind on whether they share Clare's scepticism or not. And whichever side the majority comes down on, it's going to mean huge upheavals. And how is this important debate being conducted? Well, the other night I watched a professional-looking documentary on Channel 4 entitled, somewhat provocatively, The Great Global Warming Swindle. People aren't to blame for what goes on in the atmosphere - and anyone brave enough to say so is persecuted and pilloried - that's what this program claimed. I listened to a snippet of the Moral Maze on t'wireless where a speaker was saying something similar (minus the fudged science). Then I read the rebuttals of those arguments, which I had to track down on slightly obscure websites.
On one side are a large number of scientists. On the other are traditional energy companies, right wing governments (I include New Labour in that classification), heavy industry, American Evangelicals and Jeremy Clarkson. Increasingly we're being told that climate scientists are perpetrating a scam, assisted by loony lefties, which the richest companies and the mightiest governments are powerless to lay to rest.
Or maybe most climate scientists simply don't know what they're talking about; it's a mistake not a scam. The doubters can't prove it of course, because they're not climate scientists, but they just have a pretty strong hunch that the boffins are wrong on this one.
Or maybe, maybe there is no consensus and most climate scientists aren't sure there's even a problem. Maybe the problem is simply that reporters aren't very good at counting how many scientists have their hands up.
I like to think of it using this analogy: imagine a consensus of astronomers says that an asteroid is heading towards the Earth. They're still arguing about how big it is and how fast it's moving, stuff like that, but there's near unanimous agreement that it will hit us soon. What do we do about it? Not much. Mainly we take one pro-asteroid advocate and one anti-asteroid advocate and let them argue the matter on TV. And we talk about how shrill some supporters of the astronomers are getting.
If the West can bring down nations and spend a trillion dollars combating terrorism, which kills fewer of its citizens than lightning, then where's the proportionate concern over a threat that could menace ten thousand times as many people? If you're the sort who gets aeriated about sharing the UK with a few tens of thousands of immigrants, you won't much care for a few tens of millions of them.
So, I don't want to hear any more talk of doubts or reservations or hunches. I want certainty and I want it now. I want thousands of people retrained so they can triple-check the climate models. I want colossal resources deployed to settle this question. I want as much doubt eradicated as the massed efforts of the world's great powers can accomplish. And if human-driven climate change is somehow bunk, I want to know it right now.