Who cares whether human activity is causing climate change?
Any time I read the comments on an online news story about climate change the commenters end up getting into a barney about whether human-caused global warming is real or another ploy by the sinister global elite to keep the masses in their place. Every week some dissenting view on climate change gets given a platform in a newspaper or on television, creating ever-deeper confusion on the issue. So are we causing world-destroying climate change with our CO2 emissions or is it all another big Al Gore con?
Well, I couldn’t give a fuck either way. Really, I mean it. Here’s why:
Climate change, if it is real (and I suspect it is) is just one of the environmental problems that we have created. There is a huge thousand-kilometre wide sea of floating plastic in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Personally I think that’s so shocking it should be the headline item on the news every day until we find a way to deal with it. Habitats containing plant and animal species we don’t even know about, with unknown benefits to humankind are being wiped out every day. Every day the deserts across the world grow bigger, and we know for sure a lot of that is due to human activity. We’ve eaten all the goddamn fish in the world, for Christ’s sake, or very nearly.
It all springs from a couple of problems. Firstly, the world’s resources are finite while our capacity to consume them seems to be as close to infinite as makes no difference. Secondly, those who destroy the environment are not held accountable for it, mostly because the law that constrains most of the really powerful organisations in the world (corporate law) is such that those organisations are legally required to pay attention only to profit and never mind any side-effects. This is considered to be the most efficient way to do things. And it is, if by ‘do things’ you mean ‘fuck up the world for ever’.
Behind the argument about whether or not humans are causing climate change is the assumption that if we are causing it, then we need to fundamentally change the way our economy works, and if we aren’t causing it, we can carry on as usual. You know, with the big seas of floating plastic that don’t contain fish any more and the deserts growing and growing until they swallow us all.
Hopefully my point is beginning to make sense now. If global warming doesn’t get us, something else will, because our pretence that the planet’s resources will last for ever is putting absurd strains on global ecosystems. In the end something really important will break, even if it’s nothing to do with global temperatures.
So why not cut short the debate on global warming and get on with learning how to live on the planet without eating it and shitting it out? Oh yeah, cos those big organisations are very big, and they band together when threatened, and then they are bigger than any government in the world, and they want things to stay just the way they are thanks.
I suppose I’ll be pathetically grateful if global warming turns out to be untrue, or if it is true and governments manage to pull us back from the brink. And then I’ll start worrying about what will go wrong next – because something will, until we get those big organisations under control and rewrite their rules to prevent them shitting all over our present and our future.
How do we do that? I don’t know, but perhaps we can get some clues from what people did last time a bunch of big unaccountable organisations got out of control (national governments). People forced them, by persuasion and by force, to submit to a greater degree of democratic control, and to become more accountable to those whose good they supposedly serve.
It doesn’t seem like a bad idea…
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- November 11, 2009 / 20:48