The Great Unwashed
Confused about what is generally portrayed to be the big issue of the day: climate change/global warming?
Does it even it exist? And if it does, why is it an issue, what will happen, what’s the cause, what can be done?
You’re not alone. The subject is awash with competing, frequently sensational claims and the various protagonists seem to prefer antagonising each other to engaging in reasoned debate.
Those arguing that global warming is a clear and present danger are often portrayed as anti-capitalist, anti-consumption, anti-progress throwbacks who would have us all huddled round log fires knitting our own sandals from tofu and smoking far too much cannabis.
And that label is easy to stick because the rent-a-protest crowd (who really are anti-capitalist throwbacks and even look vaguely medieval) have wholeheartedly adopted global warming as part of their pic-n-mix of mantras.
But when someone who seriously believes that humans should subsist on vegetation, that McDonalds is somehow imperialist and the Citroen 2CV is ecologically sound, then lobs in a mouthful of platitudes about climate change – you can see the problem.
Everything else they parrot is so obviously idiotic, that must be too. Which is unfortunate, but how things work. It’s to do with what is known as framing (in this case, “negative framing”).
Men in Suits
From a different angle, it often appears that anyone who dares to question the apparent consensus view that climate change is caused by man-made CO2 emissions is automatically vilified and commonly accused of being in the pay of the Oil Industry (and probably a defacto capitalist imperialist to boot).
Some of the worst offenders being scientists. So much for the scientific method of questioning and testing. But when your research funds are coming from governmental bodies that actively promote their preferred view of the issue you can see how things might get a little, ahem, skewed.
Governments of course readily promote anything they can raise money from. Carbon Tax anyone?
But get beyond the knee-jerk witch burning tendencies of the consensus lobby and lo, many climate change skeptics are indeed fringe cranks or have financial ties to the fossil fuel industry.
There is also no shortage of evidence that the fossil fuel industry are playing on the fact that there is a miasma of competing claims, not least because investigating climate change is intrinsically imprecise.
Deploying the “it’s not really proven” tactic is lazy and disingenuous; almost nothing is “really proven” when it comes down to it.
Reporting Live from a Melting Ice Floe
Then we have the mainstream media (major TV channels & newspapers) from which many draw their “information”. The fact is though, any material that has roots in journalism carries its core genetic blueprint.
Just as our genetic core commands us to reproduce, the overriding purpose of a newspaper article is to sell newspapers.
It may choose to amuse, titillate, intrigue, shock, scare, anger, soothe, whatever. The overriding purpose remains the same, whether the medium itself is still newsprint or glossy magazine, television, radio, internet, whatever.
Not even the most sober, responsible, respected mainstream media sources imaginable are going to print or broadcast material that does not draw attention to itself. Or put more simply, is not newsworthy.
The inescapable outcome is that the constant outpouring of mainstream media is either already extremely eye-catching or has been spun/filtered/enhanced to appear so.
Whichever way you cut it, its not terribly reliable, representative or even consistent.
And so, the skeptics sneer at the unwashed-lentil-heads and assorted hangers-on as evidence that talk of global warming is just so much hot air, while climate activists point fingers at the professional (as in paid for) apologists.
Both camps quite rightly blame the media and before you can say “mine’s got a 1:16 scale tattoo of the Bayeux Tapestry” everything disappears in a swirling fog of insults, accusations and recriminations.
Talk about confused. In fact, talking about confused…
…governments appear to be more confused than the rest of us. This critique of the UK Government by George Monbiot describes a situation beyond satire.
It is a demolition of the chaotic thinking (is that the correct word here?) characteristic of many governments. The UK Government’s own Energy Review predicts a medium term increase in demand for transport (basically, more roads/cars airports/planes).
The obvious questions of course, are:
• how does this square with global warming?
• where precisely is the fuel for all this?
It’s also an interesting shift in stance from Monbiot who until recently preferred (along with many climate change activists) to gloss over the whole area of declining fuel reserves.
But you do have to bite your tongue when he comes out with gems such as “…peak oil is not like climate change: there is no consensus among scientists about when it is likely to happen. ”
Sorry George, I see no consensus about when or even if climate change is likely to happen.
Don’t Fancy Yours Much
Well, there you have it. Nobody seems to come out of it terribly well and all things considered that’s probably just as it should be.
But where to turn when all about you are unappealing characters with their dubious assertions? Time perhaps to leave them to their tiresome squabbling and do as I prefer to do, go find out for yourself.