Note: I did not know the direction this was going in when I started, so it’s hardly a particularly in-depth look at the issue. However, better people than me have tried and people still don’t give a shit.
It was the 16th of January, which means winter should have been firmly established. Winter is usually associated with low temperatures. The night before, I had to take the bin out of my flat in order to transfer it to the larger bin outside, which in turn would be collected by an even larger bin on wheels to be transported to a yet larger bin dug into the ground. No one knows what will become of these largest of bins and thinking about them for too long can make you feel sad.
I realised this bin required removal as it resisted the addition of a Peperami wrapper. This not being a particularly large object meant I had no choice but to heft the stinking and dripping bag down a flight of stairs. I think the dripping came from the copious amount of Nespresso coffee pods I’ve been tossing in there since Christmas. See, after my father spent my childhood complaining about having no money and having to scrimp and save, he seems to have suddenly have an abundance of it ever since I fledged the nest some many years ago. Perhaps there is some logical sense of causality there, but I’ll be damned if I ever acknowledge it. Whatever the cause of his newfound affluence, he bought me an expensive coffee machine for Christmas. It’s really nice and I use it often, which creates conflict within me, as it edges me closer towards being defined as ‘middle-class’. Not that there’s anything wrong with being middle-class, it’s just it’s entirely at odds with my socialist leanings. Only the finest coffee for me, the good expensive stuff that requires a nice expensive machine to produce, one with a milk frother and everything. None of that instant muck for me. That’s for plebs. The common folk can’t have any! It’s mine… mine mine mine, afforded to me by my father’s wealth. Really, I should be campaigning to spread the coffee among the people, but if I did then there’d be more people carrying bins filled with Nesspresso pods down the stairs. This would lead to the larger bins getting filled up with increased regularity, requiring more larger bins on wheels, leading to a more rapid expansion of the largest of bins.
Anyway, the point is, despite being clad in only my Deadpool pyjamas and it being 22:35 on what I have already established to be a winter’s eve, it was not cold.
Unfortunately, this does not appear to be a freak blip. We have not long exited a decade that was the hottest on record. It’s likely there were decades hotter that aren’t on record, but most of them would be in times when there was less land and considerably more water and no humans. The data available seems to suggest the planet is heating at an alarming rate. I have done my own experiments that seem to confirm this, namely the aforementioned standing outside in my pyjamas and noticing it’s not that cold.
For over 150 years, scientific study and experiments seem to have confirmed such a thing as the greenhouse effect. Certain gasses have heat-trapping qualities. The main culprit these days is CO2. In 1859, Irish Physicist John Tyndall published a paper CO2’s (among other gasses) heat-trapping properties. Recent evidence suggests one Eunice Foote demonstrated this three years earlier in 1856. But obviously she was a woman, so therefore, should not be doing science. I’m sure the scientific community put her findings down to the irrational conclusions drawn by a woman on her time of the month.
Cutting satire aside, in those 150 years or so (I refuse to do the maths), the idea that greenhouse gasses could to some degree warm the planet has gained a lot more traction and, subsequently, more data. 97% of published, peer-reviewed scientific papers seem to agree that mankind is contributing to speeding up the heating of the planet. Not as some media outlets incorrectly stated over the years 97% of scientists. It’s a subtle but crucial difference.
Anyway, seven paragraphs in I come to the crux of this blog. Climate change denial. With so much data and scientific support suggesting that manmade climate change is a thing, and with the planet demonstrably getting hotter and with Australia being on fire for months (and a brief flood), and with freak storms and weather patterns becoming more frequent, it seems odd to deny climate change. I’ve used Pascal’s Wager in the context of climate change before – without going into too much detail, basically taking against CO2 production is a better logical decision than not, what with the worst-case scenario being we’ve simply learned to be less reliant on fossil fuels and become less wasteful. Who would be against that? A lot of people apparently. Former Aussie PM Tony Abbot for example, whose country happens to be on fire.
It would be simplistic to say that climate change deniers are just idiots, despite it being true in some cases. However, seeing as calling anyone who voted for Brexit a racist twat who doesn’t understand simple data and doesn’t care about anyone but themselves but ironically enjoys shooting themselves in the foot, didn’t exactly endear people towards the left in the latest UK general elections, let’s approach the matter with an open mind. Let’s try and see if climate change denial is a valid point of view.
First of all, one must define what I mean by climate change denial. There is a branch of denial which is rather literal i.e. deniers deny the planet is warming full stop. I refuse to engage with this sort of nonsense, because of course global warming is a thing. Otherwise, we’d still be in an ice age (we are currently in an interglacial period) pushing mammoths off cliffs and fleeing from sabretooth tigers. It would be a simpler world, with a lot more snowmen. This branch of climate change denial is not that popular, mainly because and anyone who still adopts this view is, objectively speaking, an idiot.
Climate change denial has evolved over time and the argument now tends to be focussed on whether man is having an impact on climate change. The ice age argument sort of works in their favour, what with the biggest argument being ‘there have always been periods of warming and cooling’. And this is undoubtedly true. This type of denial tends to take the view that it’s not worth financing green initiatives and affecting industry in order to combat climate change because it’s going to happen regardless. We’ve had and will have no impact on it. Some might even reference rapid temperature fluctuations observed in Greenland ice samples.
Now, this seems almost reasonable. However, it ignores other evidence that suggests this variation was regional and not global. And whilst there have always been periods of global cooling and heating, they have tended to be long, drawn-out affairs. Temperatures tended to rise between 4 and 7 degrees (Celsius) over roughly 5,000 years. However, over the last 100 years, the temperature has risen 0.7 degrees (this could be higher), which is a lot faster. It seems too much of a coincidence that within those 100 years, humans have been burning fossil fuels like nobody’s business. They’ve been forever multiplying and cutting down forests just to spite the orangutans that live there. The current rate of mad warming is a global thing too, seen at ground level, ocean level and atmospheric.
So, in my opinion, which is the opinion of a non-scientist idiot, climate change denial is not a particularly valid viewpoint. Of course, there are likely to be more arguments that I haven’t gone into, mainly because I’m already at the 1,278 word mark, which is far too much time to spend on a blog only this guy is going to read (and even then, just skimming). Feel free to chuck a load of arguments in my direction, I would like to hear what nonsense deniers will come up with. A hoax made up by the Chinese to affect American car production is my favourite.
In many ways, I feel denial in any form, is the refuge of the scared. In order to attempt to fix the issue, we need to make changes. People don’t like changes. They want to think we can keep on going the way we are. We can keep squirting out child after child, we can keep munching on red meat, we can keep drilling for oil, burning coal and setting fire to the Amazon. We can keep doing this and not feel guilty about it or worry because it’s all natural anyway. Changing the way we produce and consume is far too much effort, we should just ignore science instead and pretend it’s not happening.
Well, that went on a bit.