Climate Change Denier – three words that have done more to damage the environment than any others. It is like starting a conversation by announcing that anyone who disagrees with you is a Flat-Earth Nazi. I doubt that there are any more people who believe that Climate Change doesn’t happen than who believe that the earth is flat. We all know about the Ice Ages and that Greenland is called that name because it was green with trees when the Vikings discovered it. The use of word ‘denier’ is also an obvious emotional tie in the sense of ‘holocaust denier’. So using names like that will just guarantee to put people’s ‘backs up’ and make them disinclined to engage in the debate.
Additionally, while the key issues of the global warming debate are important – i.e. how much is human activity contributing to global warming and what lengths should we go to do something about it, the sad fact is that global warming is only part of the story. Humans are affecting the planet in many ways that are not benign. A contribution, small or large, to global warming is just a part of it. Basically we are ‘crapping in our own nest’ big style, as the expression goes.
Ronald Reagan once said that preservation of the environment wasn’t a left wing or right wing issue – it was just common sense. Common sense on this issue, however, now seems rare and it is poisoned by the Marxist-style histrionics of one side. I use the word ‘Marxist’ deliberately – Marxists are a fan of this sort of debating style. Marx called it labelling. Stick a label on your opponents and they then have to argue with the label before they can argue with you. So now, being pro the environment feels like you are associating yourself with these people.
There is a high chance that humans are contributing to global warming to some degree or another, but, among other things, humans are also responsible for;
- Massive pollution (e.g. the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – plastic trash covering 0.41% to 8.1% of the Pacific Ocean depending how you measure it).
- Worldwide crashing fish stocks (Editor’s Note: And the EU’s CFP is part of the problem too!)
- Desertification (China’s Gobi desert is growing by 3600 square kilometres a year)
- and Deforestation (many thousands of acres a day are being cut down).
The effects are utterly global as well. There is no point, for example, in you carefully safeguarding the fish at your end of the ocean if they are migratory and the people at the other end of the ocean are fishing every last one out of the sea when the fish are over there.
The two things that humans must do to enable themselves to survive indefinitely on the Earth are:
- Live on it in a manner that is a much ‘lighter touch’. Yes – ‘sustainable’ to use that hackneyed phrase. If we don’t, the world will become unliveable at some point. It is only a matter of time.
- Develop the capability to live in other places beyond the Earth, as there have been five major mass extinctions on the Earth where the dominant life-forms have been eradicated – we do not want to be part of the sixth. The former astronaut John Young once said:
‘Earth’s geologic history is pretty clear: It says, quite frankly, that single-planet species don’t last. Right now we’re a single-planet species. We need to fix that.’ … ‘The statistical risk of humans getting wiped out in the next 100 years … is 1 in 455. How does that relate? You’re 10 times more likely to get wiped out by a civilization-ending event in the next 100 years than you are getting killed in a commercial airline crash.’
Now point (2) above is probably a debate for another day and something that will take decades to sort but point (1) we can do something about now.
We don’t need to build houses that need serious heating, for example. The extra initial cost of building a house that doesn’t bleed heat into the atmosphere is easily recouped by the energy cost saved over its lifetime. Decent insulation and techniques like earth sheltering will do the job and be much more sympathetic to nature into the bargain. By not using the energy we also improve the county’s energy security, reduce the pollution created by generating it, reduce the losses caused by transmitting it, reduce the trauma to the environment caused by extracting the raw materials required and so on,
We do need to recycle more as well. We don’t need all those plastic bags that contribute to the Pacific Garbage Patch, for example. We need to get to the point where each generation creates no more mess than it inherited, so that the ever increasing burden on the future generations is lifted. Otherwise it is just simple maths. If each generation adds X % more to the pollution or consumes Y% of finite components of the earth’s resources then however small X and Y are, at some point in the future the human race is going to be in serious problems.
So while resisting the urge to plaster every bit of hillside with rather costly and ineffectual wind turbines we do need to change the way we live. Not wasting energy that then doesn’t need to be generated is a good way to start.
There are other implications that arise from the global nature of these issues (as alluded to above). We need to get the vast majority of the human race out of poverty to the point where they can afford to be concerned by issues like not destroying the environment – as currently just getting the next meal will be much more important to them. Again that is another rather a big topic and one that may seem ambitious for a party like UKIP that has yet to get a single MP, but it is definitely a thought to keep in the back of all our minds!