People often indignantly say they do not deny climate change, but it sometimes seems they might as well.
There are a variety of ways of defending oneself and politics from the prospects of climate change.
- Climate change is unreal or is not happening.
- Climate change is unreal and it’s all just the result of a vast conspiracy of scientists from all over the world. This is somehow much more likely than that there is a conspiracy of fossil fuel companies, who would like us to continue fossil fuel burning. These two points are a little rarer than they used to be, and the people who used to take these positions now often take one of the following.
- Climate change is real, but its no big deal. People who think it might be a big deal, are to be dismissed as ‘alarmists’, ‘chicken littles’ etc.
- Climate change is real, but it’s not humanly generated and, as it’s not humanly generated, humans can do little about it. Clearly this denies the human cause of climate change, so it promotes continuing as normal, usually without even thinking about adaptation. Fossil Fuels Corporations and more fossil fuels are fine. This merges with…
- Climate change is real, but it happens all the time. While recognising the existence of climate change, the person defuses it, and implies that there is nothing special about this particular lot of Climate Change. This change is normal – even though it seems to be rapid and non-localised. Again the result is to protect the person and the social establishment from having to change, or even think about the problems. Climate change is something humans have faced locally before, but we haven’t experience as a planet for a long, long, while before recorded history.
- Climate change is real, but it is so economically costly to do anything about it, that we should not do anything about it. People need the forms of development we have developed over the last 120 years, and recognising the consequences of human action will keep people poor. Climate change is less threatening to our well being than the economy, which will destroy us if we change.
- Climate change is real, but the consequences of dealing with it are politically costly. Dealing with it might involve governments making requests of corporations, or imposing taxes on corporations, so we should do nothing, so as to avoid complete tyranny.
- Climate change could be real, or is real, but the models climatologists use are inherently implausible, so we will just use our common sense and abandon all these models and assert that everything will be ok. We will assert the world cannot change hugely, and ignorance is our great defense.
- Climate change is just one of many problems. So let’s do nothing about all of them.
- If climate change is real it will be fixed by the Free Market and magic. If people want to buy products that cause their death and the death of others, that is their fault, and they will evolve out.
I’m sure there are more, and I’ll add them when I remember them…
But real understandings of climate change make several points:
- Climate change is happening. It is happening quickly, and the speed of change seems to be increasing, as we go along. It gets more dangerous the longer we delay attempting to fix it.
- Climate change is caused by human industry producing greenhouse gases. Human production of greenhouse gasses usually comes from modes of energy consumption and production, agriculture, transport, building, mining for fossil fuels, leaks, deforestation and so on. We need to change the ways we do these things.
- Climate change already seems to be costly in terms of natural disasters, and the cost will likely increase.
- Climate change, along with other human activities, will increasingly disrupt the known patterns of the weather system, and disrupt necessary ecological processes for some while. This will almost certainly have detrimental effects on everyone’s lives and the international political process will likely become unstable.
- Surviving climate change involves curtailing greenhouse gas production, and adaptation to the changes in weather and ecology.
- How we decide to make, or not make, these changes will result in political struggles.