For those of you who missed it in November, Mary Robinson’s lecture ‘Reshaping the debate on climate change’ is available to watch on YouTube now:
John has covered this lecture in a previous post, which I have taken the liberty of reproducing below:
Mary Robinson delivered a superb contribution to a packed audience in the Round Room of Dublin’s Mansion House. Her topic, in the EPA climate change series was: “Reshaping the debate on climate change”, and she pulled few punches.
There are, she pointed out, “powerful media figures giving oxygen to the (climate) deniers”. The main motivation of the media in this instance was, she argued, “of wanting a particular approach to governance” (i.e. laissez-faire economics). “Some within the media are very big players – Mr (Rupert) Murdoch is a problem – let’s call him by his name”, she said, to sustained applause.
The Murdoch press, notably Fox News in the US, has done untold damage to the fight against climate change and its toadying to corporatism; its media tentacles here in Ireland are extensive, from Sky News to the Sunday Times, The Sun and of course the News of the World (home of “columnist” Bertie-in-the-cabinet Ahern).
Robinson stated bluntly: “we’ve reached the limits of the the world’s development space”. Despite the current media-stoked spasm of denialism, “as climate events proliferate, their man-made causes will become ever more difficult to deny”. The current level of global economic growth of around 2% per annum “is simply not compatible with the urgent need to reduce emissions – even with a revolution in green technologies, it’s clear that stark choices lie ahead”.
As the atmospheric carrying capacity for CO2 is at or approaching critical levels, “the space for carbon-driven development no longer exists for developing countries. We’ve used up the (atmospheric) space for a safe world….we’ve been using it in a greedy way, we have confiscated this development space from the poor, and the poor are further paying for the ravages of climate change that they contributed little to create”.
We live, she added, “in a world of increasing intimacy; my carbon-rich lifestyle directly contributes to floods and droughts elsewhere…the good life we still enjoy here in Ireland has been built in part on the precariousness of the lives of climate refugees in Bangladesh”.
Despite the media panic-driven coverage of the very serious economic crisis in Ireland, “we don’t have the luxury of not attending to the longer term”, Robinson reminded her audience, in what was a commanding performance from a woman whose powers of reason, passion and persuasion remain undiminished after more than four decades of fighting the good fight.