Let’s forget about climate change.
WHAT??! I hear you gasp. But that’s all she’s been able to talk about ever since she got back from Kiribati. Is she having a crisis of faith?
No, I’m not. Nor am I caving in under pressure from negative comments on this blog. If 100+ days on the ocean couldn’t break my spirit, then a few naysayers don’t bother me.
All I’m saying is that from now on, my stance is going to be officially pro-sustainability rather than anti-climate change. You might think this is just playing on words, but there are two important points to be made here.
1. Focus on the positive
Regular readers might remember the mini-epiphany I had during the last stage of my row – that we need to focus on the solution rather than the problem. Click here to refresh your memory.
To quote Mother Teresa: “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” I am going to take a leaf out of that wise woman’s book, and suggest that we focus on what we DO want rather than what we DON’T want.
2. Pulling Together
For certain people, “climate change” has become an emotionally charged phrase. Reading certain comments posted on this site, and possibly the comments of Lord Monckton, it seems they perceive a global conspiracy to overthrow capitalism and democracy. They think that climate campaigners are scamming the public to line their own pockets (I can’t speak for every campaigner, but I can assure you that my pockets are most decidedly empty – and you can ask my unimpeachable mother if you doubt me). They see environmental campaigning being used as a vehicle for self-promotion and aggrandisement.
There is little to be gained by engaging in a tit-for-tat exchange of defense and counter-attack. The personal comments are just a distraction from striving towards a solution. So we’ll move swiftly on.
Both believers and deniers point at the statistics to back up their arguments. Well, we all know there are lies, damned lies, and statistics, and it is generally possible to find evidence to support any preconceived point of view. We are bombarded with so much information that it can be bewildering to try and make sense of it all, so our natural tendency is to apply filters and see only what we want to see.
Even some of my best friends are climate change deniers – and yes, I do still speak to them. They have done their research, considered the facts, and arrived at a different conclusion. I respect that. They are at least engaged, informed, and conscious. Provided that they respect me and my beliefs, then I will extend them the same courtesy.
Too much time and energy has been expended, by both sides, on attacking each other’s facts and each other’s champions. Instead of uniting mankind against a common enemy, “climate change” has instead become a divisive issue just at the time when we are most in need of unity.
So let’s forget it. Hopefully I can show that ultimately it doesn’t matter whether we believe in climate change or not – that we still actually want the same things.
Let’s instead focus on these questions:
1. Do we agree that we live on a finite earth, and are unlikely to colonise any other planets in the near future?
2. The first oil was drilled in 1859, just 150 years ago. We have now used around half of it. In 1996 the oil industry estimated we had only 45 years left – at 1996 rates of consumption. But consumption is escalating. Even if you think these figures are pessimistic, do we agree that oil reserves must at some point run out, given that they are a non-renewable resource?
3. Does anybody enjoy inhaling exhaust fumes? Have you read about the appalling air quality in some Chinese cities – largely due to coal-fired power plants? Would you want to live there? If you live in LA, are you happy about the fact that 25% of your air pollution comes from China?
4. Would you prefer that your country (whatever country that may be) is engaged in sustainable industries based on renewable energy sources? Or would you prefer that investment continues to flow into industries that depend on energy and fuel sources that must one day run out?
5. Would you prefer that your country (again, whatever country that may be) is at the leading edge of innovation, a global leader? Or would you prefer to see your economy overtaken by other nations that preferred to invest in industries that will be sustainable, not just in the long term, but in the forever term (or at least as long as the sun continues to shine)?
So let’s raise the tone of the debate. Too often at the moment we look like schoolchildren squabbling over a toy – our most precious toy, the Earth. And the danger is that as we pull in opposite directions in our global tug of war, the Earth will end up broken – or at least unable to sustain human life. That is the worst case scenario – or maybe, from the Earth’s point of view, the best.