That whole climate thing • 18 August 2007 • The SnowBlog
That whole climate thing
This post is a leeetle bit politics-y. Not a lot - it's mainly about attitudes to the climate debate - but I'll tuck it away behind the cut just to be on the safe side. So, this is probably how the world makes up its mind about stuff. You have people on one side freaking out and trying to sound the alarm and everyone else is totally oblivious. It feels as though nothing is happening, but maybe that's exactly how the process of global change works.
I wasn't surprised when that recent story broke about the UK probably missing its renewable energy targets and how it had 'achieved little so far on renewables'; you can sort of feel that nothing is being done yet. It's something to do with the tone of government announcements and subsequent news reporting. We're not yet hearing the anguish in the voice. Compare the climate changes situation with stories about specifics like, say, the recent flooding. When the waters were rising there were plenty of rather urgent live reports from journalists 'at the scene' and much more in the way of slightly-aggrieved increasingly-impatient editorialising.
There's so much less of that with climate change and green targets. It's still seen as a chore, it's another box to tick. If it were a domestic emergency, climate change and renewable energy is seen as a dripping tap rather than a tree toppling onto the house. In fact it's not even that, it's rubbish that needs taking out and those who won't shut up about it are seen as nags and maybe a little bit loony. George Monbiot, always at the heart of something controversial, but always - from what I can tell - sounding fairly reasonable about it - is complaining today about all the anti-campaigner stories in the news. Where do they come from? Where's the evidence of behind these accusations? If he's right, it really is a disgrace. Painting peaceful protesters as terrorists is one of the most cynical and abusive things you can do, for all sorts of reasons - and exactly what lefties like me worry about whenever someone says they need 'sweeping new powers to combat terrorism'.
Some time soon I think the tone will shift. And it will happen when people start to get scared. Evidence can always be explained away or ignored - fear can't. In the back of many people's minds - without them fully being aware of it - a list is being compiled. On the list so far are heatwaves, hurricanes and Katrina, record rainfall and flooding, and maybe some pictures on TV of icebergs calving. That list will grow and one day it will dawn on us that it's real and we're in trouble. Really deep trouble. And suddenly protesters won't be 'criminals', they'll be 'the people'. And the government will be back-pedalling and spin-doctoring like crazy. And all it will take is for that mental list to get long enough quickly enough. Which sadly for us all, will probably happen once it's about five years too late to fix the worst of it, because it always takes a while for changes - both good and bad -