Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Trying to stay optimistic

My great mate Cav (editor of BBC Countryfile, he said, dropping the name with a humongous clang) went to see a talk with the BBC's John Simpson last night. You can read all about it here.

I'm desperately trying to stay optimistic about mankind's future. The problem is, I am still encountering people who refuse to believe climate change is fact. Despite the extreme weather events going on around us - and I'm not just referring to this summer, but the past decade - people would still prefer to think it's all some kind of government conspiracy designed to spoil their fun. Instead of discussing ways of solving the problem and acknowledging that actually your life won't fall to bits if you rein back your excesses, they want to argue until they're blue in the face and it's too late.

And therein lies the rub. The vast majority of people who continue to deny climate change do so because it doesn't fit in with their lifestyle. Rather than sit down soberly and accept the kind of consumptive lifestyle we lead isn't compatible with sustainability or the natural environment, they'd prefer to jump on every little comment that casts doubt on climate change, regardless of its source or veracity. It's okay for the vast majority of qualified scientists to exhaustively monitor the planet's environment and then present a watered-down version of what is going on, but as soon as some maverick - usually with a hidden agenda - makes some comment, they leap on it like the gospel, even after it fails to stand up to even the most cursory of examination.

It's the brazen hypocrisy of people that gets me down. These people will laugh at those who look for conspiracy theories in 9/11, the Kennedy assassination or even mankind landing on the moon, but they'll jump on the "global warming is some sleight of hand performed by governments and anti-capitalists determined to make my life a misery" bandwagon.

The sad thing is, I can see exactly why people are like this. Over the past 20-30 years we've been told that greed is good, that everyone else can sod off so long as you're having a good time. The sad fact is, a large number of people don't give a toss about the environment or their own carbon footprint or even the fact the children and grandchildren they profess to love will grow up in a far harsher world than this one, all because they can't rein in their own short-term selfish whims. That's why they'll continue to drive 4x4s, fly at least six times a year and continue to burn through Chinese-imported consumer goods until the party ends. And then they'll be first in line demanding what the government is going to do about it.

I want to feel optimistic, I really do. But it's about time people woke up to their responsibilities and started acting like human beings. Other creatures don't have the intelligence to know they're acting only for themselves, what's our excuse?

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