Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Johann Hari of The Independent says that we should stop talking about Climate Change and start thinking in terms of forthcoming Climate Chaos. The trouble is that, while I agree that this conveys the need for alarm more effectively than just 'change', its use may cause conversational chaos at one level at least, since climate is in any case chaotic. That's what makes it so bloody difficult to predict precisely how the weather is going to be.

However, since the sequelae of anthropogenic global warming are likely to shatter the comfortable assumptions upon which global commerce and social cohesion are based, perhaps climate catastrophe would be an appropriate phrase to use.

The denialists of climate change will, of course, leap upon this as further proof of the use of hyperbole by the environmentalists, climatologists and others who watch the unfolding signs of irreversible change to the atmosphere and global climate with considerable alarm.

The oil lobby, and organisations funded by it like the Cato Institute (also in bed with News corp, Phillip Morris, etc., as well as Exxon, Mitsubishi and big pharma such as Pfizer), are desperate to poo poo any such worries. The cosy profit train must not be disturbed. But surely this is daft, when we have reached, or else will shortly, so-called 'peak oil'. As China, India, Brazil, and others grow, their demand for energy can only increase, providing increased competition for a dwindling resource. At which point the price of oil climbs inexorably to a point where energy becomes too expensive to enable us to carry on as we are in any case. That day is not so far away. Hell, even BP appears to recognise that.

So why on earth aren't we investing heavily in alternatives to head off this potential eonomic crisis, even if policy makers and governments couldn't give a stuff about the wider environment? It doesn't matter if you don't believe in global warming, a low carbon economy is the only possible solution for the future anyway.

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