Denial is a powerful thing. Climate change deniers these days are, like the polar bears, an endangered species, as wave after wave of science fact gradually washes away the last stubborn traces of our excuses for inaction.
Of course, there are some folk for whom this whole climate denial lark is very good indeed for business. Bjorn Lomborg has spun not one but two complete works of science fiction out of the subject, and along the way, made himself a tidy sum, and secured his place on the happy-clappy lecture circuit for the foreseeable future.
Closer to home, columnist Kevin Myers employs his considerable skills as a writer to weave a dense cloud of utter lunacy on climate change. It might be considered amusing as the script for some undergraduate debating society, but this bile is regularly published in a major national newspaper and presumably taken on board by some as having some basis in fact.
Myers has concocted the notion that environmentalism and concern about global warming is some form of new orthodoxy replacing austere Catholicism. He calls it Warmism. Boom boom. A recent article entitled “Rejoice, it’s Spring and climate doom merchants got it wrong” is a tedious case in point. He rattles out the standard humbug that a cold April ‘proves’ that global warming can’t be happening, backed up with the supporting ‘evidence’ of a harsh winter in China, not to mention the record snowfalls on Snowdon. So there.
‘Greenists’ is Myers’ term of collective abuse for anyone who is even slightly worried by the state of the planet. He lumps Warmism in with Catholicism and communism and somehow manages to equate them with the Third Reich.
Mmmm, Mr Myers, if these symptoms persist, take the pink pills, if not, just keep taking the blue, red, yellow and orangey ones. Thank goodness for doctors, eh? Their years of medical and scientific training mean they are much less likely than your average newspaper columnist to peddle total bull. In theory, anyhow.
That’s why it was so disappointing to see the eminent surgeon, Maurice Neligan lend his not inconsiderable moral authority to the lunatic fringe in his newspaper column this week. Sample the following:
“Aren’t these green ministers amazing – reduce the national herd, sailing luggers for the fishing fleet… whatever will they think of next? Wake up folks. This is all daft and in your hearts you know it. Nobody can give you an honest assessment of the problems we might (advisedly) encounter through global warming and when these might occur.
They are all based on computer modelling and an undoubted rise in temperatures. They appear to discount that this has happened before and that folk are pretty adaptable and can live happily in climes as disparate as Greenland and Singapore. They allow nothing for ingenuity and developing science. It’s rather like a medieval savant saying “put out that bloody candle, think of Elf Gormley in 2008”.
Maurice Neligan is rightly admired as a surgeon. This piece does him no credit whatever, and if as a medical professional he were to take the time to acquaint himself with the mountain of hard, peer-reviewed science underpinning anthropogenic global warming and its very real risks to all of humanity, I suspect he would not have put his name to such a poorly thought out piece.
The role of politicians, Neligan suggests, is to gratify our narrow, short term demands, and to hell with tomorrow. Or as he puts it: “I don’t want my car taxed out of existence. I want the lights to stay on and to be warm and have enough to eat. This is my basic selfish agenda – I suspect it is shared by nearly everybody. These are the basics, along with decent healthcare and education that you folk were elected to provide”.
I can understand the fun a professional mischief-maker like Kevin Myers is having with his mendacious meanderings prodding fun at sustainability, species extinction and our hilariously collapsing biosphere. But Maurice Neligan?
Rather than engage in Ecology 101, let me instead offer the wisdom of then US president, Theodore Roosevelt, who wrote in 1907 :“The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem it will avail us little to solve all others”. And that was before the 20th Century heavily degraded most of the Earth’s natural systems.
We have a food crisis, a water crisis, a fisheries collapse and an oil crisis – and guess what the common denominator might be? Psychologists and medics use the acronym DABA as a means of memorising the four classic steps people coming to terms with bad news must traverse.
D is Denial, moving into A for Anger, followed by B for Bargaining, and finally, A for Acceptance, as the patient finally comes to terms with their newly altered reality. Messrs Myers and Neligan really need to move beyond ‘D’. If either needs a reading list, we’d be delighed to provide one.