Climate change denial

I’ve just been watching Top Gear, the one where they manage to reach the North Pole in a car. Seeing as the car was running on fumes when they got there, I’ve no idea how they got back, but on the whole it was pretty good. Except for the last 10 seconds.

Clarkson’s voiceover says the following: “They said we’d never get to the Pole because of the damage the car had already done to the ice cap. Perhaps then that’s what we’ve proved most of all. Really. The inconvenient truth is that it doesn’t appear to have even scratched the surface.”

What in hell is he basing that conclusion on? The fact that he drove a car over it? Is that it, seriously?! No figures on the melting ice caps, or on global water levels, just the fact that it’s still there and it can support a 3 ton truck means climate change isn’t happening and the ice caps are just fine and dandy. Talk about making the evidence fit in with the conclusion… The statement was totally irrelevant to the rest of the show too. Up until then it had been “look at this wonderful machine that’s making things so much easier”. This is one of the things I hate about Jeremy Clarkson, it’s the totally nonchalant attitude he broadcasts on national television, particularly towards climate change and humanity’s influence on it (but also on things like speeding and, during this episode, drink driving), an attitude which I’m sure has been adopted by some of his viewers.

I can sort of understand some people not caring about the environment, not being motivated to do anything about it, but to deny global warming is even taking place is a step too far. The majority of evidence shows that it has increased dramatically since the industrial revolution, and the evidence and research which opposes it is far too often funded by those in whose interest it is to deny it; the oil companies, the car manufacturers, the airlines.

What’s more, it is an issue of such fundamental importance! If we do nothing, the world could become uninhabitable, our species and many others could well die out. It’s amazing how people consider finding a cure for cancer more important than solving the problem of climate change, but in reality which is the bigger threat? Even if humanity isn’t a major cause of climate change, surely it is in our best interests to try and reduce its effects! So I’m not sure how to handle this. Should climate change denial be on the same kind of level as Holocaust denial? Certainly the consequences of each are of similar threat levels, one just appears more immediate than the other.

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4 Responses to Climate change denial

  1. Marc Surtees says:

    Hi there,

    As always a thought provoking post. BUT….. did you know that for the last 8 years the global average temp has been unchanged dispite the fact that carbon emmisions are increasing as fast as they where during the last 25 years of the previous century.

    This was not predicted by any of the global warming experts whose conclusions are the basis for decisions that will have a major impact on our lives today (for example, driving up our cost of living through taxation and stopping developing countries reaching the same standard of living we enjoy now….) and unknown impact on future generations.

    It is rather risking making major decisions, when the evidence of the last 8 years shows that we do not know how to predict the outcome on the climate.

    Marc

  2. grammarking says:

    The last 8 years is hardly something to base a conclusion on. Relatively short-term measurements only show a tiny glimpse of the situation. Longer term figures taken using thermometers, tree rings, ice cores etc show a massive upward change in global temperatures since 1860, totally out of line with the 1000 years before that. http://www.pewclimate.org/global-warming-basics/facts_and_figures/temp_ghg_trends/temp.cfm

    Of course I’m not saying our opinions on climate change should never change, all new evidence should be considered along with the rest. I would like to see where you got your figures from, however.

    I’ll see you in Darwin Week.

  3. Marc Surtees says:

    Hi,

    The figures are right there on the web site that you provided a link for.
    It is difficult to see because of the scale.
    But I do agree that we need to wait and see if the current stability continues….
    By the way did you know that the Romans used to grow grapes in northern England (it was that warm).

    Darwin week … tell me more!

    Marc

  4. grammarking says:

    Darwin Week – I was under the impression you’re doing a debate for the HSS?

    EDIT: Sorry, just realised I missed your point. Yes I’m aware the Romans grew grapes in northern England, but, as I’m sure you’re aware, the melting of the ice caps slows down the Gulf Stream, which means Britain will in fact get colder as a result of global warming. Warmer climates in the past are exactly what we should expect if global warming is happening.

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