The Telegraph reported on Jan 13th 2011 that Jeffrey Kiehl, of the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research has concluded that because of Man’s activities, “…atmospheric levels of CO2 could rise from 390 ppm to 1,000 ppm by the end of this century. The last time the world had such high levels of carbon dioxide temperatures were on average 29F(16C) above pre-industrial levels. Evidence has been found of crocodiles and palm trees at the Poles and only small mammals were able to survive.”
All the evidence points to global warming happening faster than hoped for or predicted, but humans choose to ignore the warnings and welcome any scepticism or denial that humans are the cause of any significant climate change. Either that, or they are focused on crusades for religious and/or political power, or in many cases on day to day survival.
Why are we so intent on doing nothing to address the risk? We insure our homes, our cars, and pay large amounts of money to secure our childrens’ educations, all for a good future. We rant and rave and riot in the streets about tuition fees or petrol prices. But when it comes to our environment upon which we all depend totally, the default position is to do nothing. It’s ‘Eat, drink and be merry…”, in most cases omitting the second part of the saying “.. for tomorrow we die.”
So is the reason that attitudes are broadly divided between the mainstream of society (in all it’s many forms) on one side, and the little huddle of environmentalists and scientists on the other because of a shear inability to act? An inability to conceive?
Wikipedia says “The normalcy bias refers to an extreme mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to underestimate both the possibility of a disaster occurring and also its possible effects. This often results in situations where people fail to adequately prepare for a disaster, and on a larger scale, the failure of the government to include the populace in its disaster preparations.”
A typical symptom of this is last evening: Lindsey and I had a delightful time at a party put on by our local Transition group which I attend. It was a part open to the entire village, indeed the entire region, and advertised (modestly and rather over-discretely) locally and on the Transition web site. You were to bring a locally produced contribution of food and/or drink, and get there in a low-carbon manner if possible. About 20 people turned up, most of whom were the organisers, with a singer from Swindon, an activist from Oxford and a couple who rear pigs in a nearby village. We had a delightful evening of excellent food (the roast pork was divine, home made pate, cider etc etc) and entertainment by myself and also Talis Kimberly, a singer-songwriter. Every single person was on message – there were no sceptics, no dissenters, and almost no new people. The community had stayed away in their thousands.
But I can say that we did eat, we did drink and we were very merry.