Monday, 2 July 2007

Climate of Suspicion

It seems that Joe Public is, perhaps, not quite so green as he's cabbage looking, to use a local expression.

An Ipsos Mori poll of 2,032 adults - interviewed between 14 and 20 June - found 56% believed scientists were still questioning climate change, and discovered there was a feeling the problem was exaggerated to make money.

No, kidding? I wonder why that should be? Could it, perhaps, have something to do with a whole range of so-called green products pouring on to the market at prices substantially higher than their allegedly less environmentally friendly alternatives? Or the realisation that "climate change" is a great racket to be in if you happen to be a boffin looking for research funding?

Face it, every man and his dog is trying to find an ecofriendly angle these days, because that's where the hype is, and where there's hype there's money to be made. Speaking of the survey, Sir David Read, vice president of the Royal Society, said, "People should not be misled by those that exploit the complexity of the issue, seeking to distort the science and deny the seriousness of the potential consequences of climate change."

The trouble is, it's scientists who say that, and their results cannot be entirely trusted. Think about it. If you were a scientist, and had trousered a hefty research budget to investigate climate change, would you report back to your sponsor that all was well and there was no need to panic (assuming that was the case, of course!), or would you stress the complexity of the issues under consideration, and indicate that further research would be helpful, thereby making sure that your funding was renewed for the foreseeable future?

Of course, far from seeking to extend their budget, the boffins might be absolutely right - only they know for sure, and therein lies the problem. Certainly, the public remains unconvinced that the situation is as desperate as scientists would have us believe, feeling that, "terrorism, graffiti, crime and dog mess were all of more concern than climate change."

I can't say I blame them, either. I, for one, am not sold on the idea that climate change is related, in whole or in part, to the actions of mankind. Naturally, I accept that pumping tons of pollutants into the atmosphere is unlikely to do it any good, but, equally, I'm not sure it's had, or is going to have, the dire consequences I keep hearing and reading about. Indeed, if anything, I find the constant media coverage to be something of a turn-off; I hear the irritating phrase "carbon neutral" yet again, and just stop listening.

Besides, I'm more inclined to associate the observed changes with natural cycles of warming and cooling than with human activity, and, if that is the case, no amount of environmentally friendly products are going to do us any good. We'd be far better off devising ways to cope with inevitable change than in mucking around with carbon footprints, recycling and similar nonsense.

Unfortunately, sensible though it may be, that approach doesn't have quite the same hype value, and so folks like David Cammeron will continue to nail windmills to their houses in their forlorn quest for votes - why be practical when you can be Prime Minister instead?

Billy Seggars.

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