Thursday, 24 July 2014

Five stages on the slippery slope

Sometimes it just seems like you're not going to make it. You look at all the things you need to do and the time you need to do it in, and they just won't fit. You add up all that you need to spend on all the things you need to buy, and it's more than you're going to earn--there is still some month left over at the end of the salary. Like you're heading straight towards a cliff with no sign of slowing down and no chance to change direction.

That's how it seems every time I start thinking about the climate. Too many centuries of carbon is being taken out of the earth each year, and the pressures of the population and excesses of the economy seem too great for this to get any less. The corresponding levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have unthinkable consequences.

I know that carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring chemical, and if you look far enough back into pre-history you find it has been at much higher levels. I also know that this was a prehistory that humans did not live in.

The amount of atmospheric CO2 we have now just exceeded 400 parts per million, and I know that figure seems pretty small, and is not hugely different to the level of 350 ppm that scientists have said is safe.

In fact they both sound pretty small numbers. How could a gas making up such a tiny part of the atmosphere make any difference?

Here's a list of highly toxic gases. These will kill within an hour at 200 ppm or under.

Chlorine is lethal in one part per million, so a safe level of 350 ppm is starting to look pretty good, and 400 isn't such a small number after all.

And you may be thinking that the 2 or 3 degree rise in global temperature is no big deal. But what if it was your body temperature?

So you could really start worrying about this stuff. But you don't have to. There is another choice.

It's called denial.

Why worry, when you could bury your head in the sand and pretend it will go away?

There are five simple stages. Take your pick! Or why not start at the beginning, then you can work through them one by one?

  • Stage 1: It's not happening
  • Stage 2: It wasn't us
  • Stage 3: It's not a problem
  • Stage 4: We can't do anything about it
  • Stage 5: It's too late!

Global warming denial has a history all the way back to 1991, according to this report in the New York Times of the coal industry trying to turn the fact of global warming back into a theory.

If you have an election coming up, look out for the party that is playing the global warming denial card. You know it makes sense for them, if they are really desperate. There are plenty of people out there who don't want to believe. Electioneers need to reach out to that demographic! And it makes sense for you too, as you feel there is some authority behind your disbelief.

Read more about it here at

“Plot idea: 97% of the world's scientists contrive an environmental crisis, but are exposed by a plucky band of billionaires & oil companies.”
—Scott Westerfeld