Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The reality of climate change

George Monbiot has written an eloquent article in the Guardian about the reality of climate change as the Kyoto treaty goes into effect tomorrow. To say it is outrageous that the U.S. is not participating is truly an understatement. Entitled "Mocking our Dreams" the piece includes these focused paragraphs:

...[T]here is a well-funded industry whose purpose is to reassure us, and it is granted constant access to the media. We flatter its practitioners with the label "skeptics". If this is what they were, they would be welcome. Skepticism (the Latin word means "inquiring" or "reflective") is the means by which science advances. Without it we would still be rubbing sticks together. But most of those we call skeptics are nothing of the kind. They are PR people, the loyalists of Exxon Mobil (by whom most of them are paid), commissioned to begin with a conclusion and then devise arguments to justify it. Their presence on outlets such as the BBC's Today program might be less objectionable if, every time Aids was discussed, someone was asked to argue that it is not caused by HIV, or, every time a rocket goes into orbit, the Flat Earth Society was invited to explain that it could not possibly have happened. As it is, our most respected media outlets give Exxon Mobil what it has paid for: they create the impression that a significant scientific debate exists when it does not.

But there's a much bigger problem here. The denial of climate change, while out of tune with the science, is consistent with, even necessary for, the outlook of almost all the world's economists. Modern economics, whether informed by Marx or Keynes or Hayek, is premised on the notion that the planet has an infinite capacity to supply us with wealth and absorb our pollution. The cure to all ills is endless growth. Yet endless growth, in a finite world, is impossible. Pull this rug from under the economic theories, and the whole system of thought collapses.

And this, of course, is beyond contemplation. It mocks the dreams of both left and right, of every child and parent and worker. It destroys all notions of progress. If the engines of progress - technology and its amplification of human endeavor - have merely accelerated our rush to the brink, then everything we thought was true is false. Brought up to believe that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, we are now discovering that it is better to curse the darkness than to burn your house down.

I know I've offered you many postings on global climate change since starting this blog. But I truly believe there is no issue more important. In fact there is no issue as important. For if we don't save our planet, if we don't preserve the foundation of life in our world, all the other issues will be irrelevant.

No comments:

Post a Comment

New policy: Anonymous posts must be signed or they will be deleted. Pick a name, any name (it could be Paperclip or Doorknob), but identify yourself in some way. Thank you.