Some climate scientists revised their models this month. Taking account of recent data, they discovered that your children will still probably die a horrible death due to climate change and its consequences; just not quite as quickly as had been thought.
How this new research was reported says a great deal about why your children and grandchildren are simply ‘the walking dead.’ In Britain, our tackiest tabloid rag set the tone:
“How scientists got their global warming sums wrong — and created a £1TRILLION-a-year green industry that bullied experts who dared to question the figures.
“The scientists who produce those doomsday reports for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finally come clean. The planet has stubbornly refused to heat up to predicted levels.”
Does that mean we are all saved then? Was it all a big hoax aimed at selling windmills and solar panels? Not quite. As a more sober article by Sean Morrison at the Evening Standard reports:
“The new research in the journal Nature Geoscience suggests the world could be polluted and warm up less quickly than 10-year-old forecasts show…
“But Mark Maslin, professor of climatology at UCL, told the Standard this projection is based on the assumption that every country ‘does absolutely everything in its power’ to combat climate change.”
Given the recent actions of the president of the most polluting country on the planet, it is quite clear that far from doing everything in our power to combat climate change, we are actually doing very little. Indeed, even supposedly ‘green’ Germany – which has installed massive wind capacity – is emitting more carbon dioxide.
In any case, even if we were doing everything we could, as Morrison’s article points out:
“The point is that, whereas the indications have been up until now that limiting average global warming to 1.5C was nigh on impossible, the new analysis shows that if global actions are intensified, the limit could still be – just about – feasible.”
For all of the hysteria in the UK tabloid coverage, the debate in the UK is sober and considered in contrast for what counts as a discussion in the USA where perhaps two-thirds of media stories simply deny the existence of climate change, and where research papers of this kind are latched onto as ‘proof’ that the whole thing is a Chinese conspiracy designed to destroy jobs.
The deeper problem, however, is that even those of us who acknowledge the threat of climate change are not going to do anything serious about it. We may rail against Donald Trump for the scientific illiteracy of his climate change denial. But the really tough decisions that might just save the day – having fewer children, ditching cars, banning air travel and switching to a meat-free diet – are politically toxic. Instead we mouth climate-friendly platitudes while continuing with business as usual while hoping someone will discover some entirely clean new energy source that defies the laws of physics.
But nature doesn’t care about our green virtue signalling. The calculation is straightforward. We add greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and the planet warms. If we keep doing it, we will destroy our habitat. The planet will still be here. Life will carry on. It is merely us humans who will have disappeared. After that, nobody is going to be applauding pro-climate memes, political speeches or movies. As the latest row shows, action – unpleasant, politically unpopular, economically devastating action – is all that matters. But action is the one thing neither left nor right, liberals or conservatives are prepared to contemplate.