A riddle for the uncritical
What is mostly blue, round, very old, retaining water, and not as cool as it used to be?
We used to think that the Earth was green but then we discovered it is mostly covered in salty water.
We used to think the Earth was flat but then someone pointed out that ships disappear over the horizon and come back again, so we decided it must be spherical.
We used to think that the Earth was only 6000 years old but had to re-think that idea when faced with overwhelming evidence that it is in fact very old.
We used to think that human activity could not possibly affect our environment but then we discovered that agricultural chemicals poisoned soils and rivers; and industrial pollution caused acid rain.
We used to think smoking heroin and tobacco was sophisticated but then we discovered that neither of them is actually very good for you; both of them being highly addictive and likely to kill you if you smoke either of them for too long or too often.
We used to think that hydrocarbons were the answer to all our problems and that they would provide us with cheap energy for ever but then the basic Laws of Physics intervened and we realised that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
OK, so here is the story (of reality) so far:
– The Earth is not flat; and it is not just 6000 years old.
– Businesses tend to invent things that make money; but that does not mean they are a good idea.
– Cheap energy is a myth; and if you doubt it then your government must be subsidising it too much.
Now things start to get a bit more “tricky”:
Here’s a question for you – Who is it that has a track-record of being found guilty of manipulating science in order to confuse people, perpetuate doubt, preserve the appeal of their product, and avoid taking responsibility for the adverse consequences arising from the use of their product – is it scientific researchers in dozens of the World’s top Universities or top executives of dozens of the World’s biggest multi-national corporations? (N.B. It is not a trick question – the most obvious answer is probably the right one.)
“May you live in interesting times” – An ancient Chinese curse
I really do think we are living through momentous days at present; we have the UK Government’s chief expert on climate science admitting for the first time that limiting average global warming to less than 2 Celsius may no longer be possible and we have the areal extent of sea ice in the Arctic Ocean reaching a record-breaking minimum… And yet, we have oil companies like Gazprom and Shell insisting that this is nature’s solution to our fossil fuel shortage… Are they insane or what?
As I said at the beginning of my previous post, our environmental problems are not the product of an over-active imagination; the result of a predisposition to being a doomsayer; or the fictional preamble to an insidious plan for worldwide authoritarian government – they are real.
When, against all the odds, the RAF managed to succeed in persuading Adolf Hitler not to invade the UK in 1940, Sir Winston Churchill famously remarked: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”. If Churchill were alive today, I think he might say:
Never in the history of human commerce was so much… spewed to so many by so few.
It took nearly over 50 years to get tobacco companies to admit the truth they had suppressed – that their product is not good for you.
It has now been almost 25 years since the fossil fuel industry decided to pursue identical tactics to prevent harm to their business interests; and in so doing they have almost certainly guaranteed that the harm their industry has inflicted upon the Earth will be much greater, longer-lasting; and harder to mitigate.
Saying “we will adapt” is just not good enough. Anyone who says such a thing is at best guilty of wishful thinking and, at worst, probably on track to be eventually found guilty of crimes against biodiversity… For the record, although it would be rather poignant for it to be set up somewhere like Madagascar, I think it would be more practical for the International Biodiversity Crime Commission (IBCC) to be set-up on land reclaimed from the sea in the Thames Estuary (in place of the Mayor of London’s crazy idea for a new airport).
However, let us not get ahead of ourselves here: Before anyone can be accused of crimes against biodiversity, it will first of all be necessary for business leaders, politicians, and journalists to stop lying to themselves and anyone who will listen (and sadly a large number still do) – in a valiant but ultimately futile attempt to prevent the sunlight of reality from dawning upon the landscape of their scientific understanding.
The Earth is not flat, it is very old, and it has liquid water on its surface because the Greenhouse Effect is a reality. However, this greenhouse effect has now been enhanced by the addition of 40% extra CO2 and, since the Laws of Physics are – unlike historical performance of the Stock Market – a pretty reliable indicator of prospects for the future, the Earth is warming up.
This may well be the end of story but, unless you want it to turn into a nightmare, we need all people everywhere to accept the nature of reality; and start taking action to:
– Minimise our wasteful consumption of non-renewable resources and energy.
– Eliminate business and economic practices that encourage over-consumption.
– Live within our means and start paying-off our currently mortgaged future.
– Educate women in poor countries to eliminate excessive population growth.
So, yes, Turkeys will have to vote for Christmas.