Dienstag, 22. Juli 2008

The Global Warming Swindle Swindle

The moment has been haunting me. A few weeks back, I saw the Global Warming Swindle DVD prominently displayed at my local video store. And I failed to say anything! I like the people behind the counter. They are poor wage slaves, anyway. They don't make the decisions about what gets displayed where. Rationalizations I can come up with a plenty. But: they are toss. There can be no excuse. It's moments of civic cowardice, like my silence, that make totalitarian regimes rise and thrive. It's silences, such as mine, that make rational people still believe that there is a debate to be had about climate change's existence. In reality, denying climate change today is like denying the Holocaust. It is just as false -and almost certainly more murderous. Climate change models do have uncertainties, for sure. But everything does! To not listen to climate science - and act on it! - is like not looking when crossing the road. You may overlook a car when you do. But to not do so, is simply madness. Even though, yes, of course, you can never be certain you will see all cars coming your way. (And I do realize that this analogy is, of course, completey inadequate: This example only kills you, if you are mad. But the madness of the climate deniers kills millions, and, worse, not usually them, but the poorest of the poor, especially in the developing world. Their irrationality is not just suicide, but, er, murder!) - I have to admit, when the Global Warming Swindle came out, I dismissed it. It was clearly the self-interested work of a man specializing in controversy at all cost. We had been there before with Against Nature. But when even friends started to ask me casually over lunch what I thought of "these prominent scientists who say that global warming is a hoax", I realized that I was wrong. Dangerously wrong. The real scientists, who had launched complaints against the Swindle's swindle, were right. And facts such as that 10 of the 16 interviewees for this Swindle film are associated with no less than 26 Exxon-funded groups to the tune of more than $11 million since 1998 do need to be heard at lunch tables around the world. - I identify, of course, with a desire, especially among middle-class intellectuals, to not give up debate. When based on a sceptical impulse, a determination not take anything for granted, that openness for debate is essential to democracy. But in the case of climate change, the democratic impulse gets turned on its head. It leads to a perception, even among those not denying climate change, that there is an "excessive consensus" in the media, when, in fact, the opposite is the case. The real, scary facts of climate change still, if anything, get underreported. Instead, the lunatics get a great deal of airtime. Just imagine that anytime someone claimed that cocain is dangerous, for example, the media felt obliged to also "put the other point of view" ... George Monbiot, I fear, is probably right when he argues that the scepticism - when it comes to climate change - is based on a much less laudible human desire: a psychological wish that all may not be as bad as it seems. "Faced with the overwhelming realities of climate change, people clutch at any reassurance. We want someone to tell us that everything will be alright, that we can carry on enjoying this marvellous feast of fossil fuels without adverse effects.". It is us, the (relatively) wealthy, educated middle-class, that will have to change most. It's us who have to give up holidays in far off places and invest our money in renewable energies rather than hand bags. We may not like that. Even I, clearly, do not always want to face up to the facts of climate change (but rather just quietly get a DVD on a Friday night). But unless we want to be knowingly complicit in murder, we have to act. Today, I will start by writing to my local video store about the Warming Swindle's Swindle. What about you? P.S. Great piece by the New Scientist on this issue here.

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