Cancun: How could I not be wearily cynical about this abject failure?
What can I tell you? That the most horrid irony in all this is that these same people at Cancun – who demonstrably couldn’t organise a fizzy piss up in a brewery full of carbonated drinks – these same people are the ones who are supposedly organising a gigantic, world-wide conspiracy? Gosh! Just how stupid do you have to be to believe that one? How can deniers be so divorced from reality that they can subscribe to such an unlikely notion?
The fact that climate change deniers (and their tin-foil brethren) can, on the one hand, convince themselves that some vast conspiracy is afoot, and at the same time feel quite so smug about the disarray of the self-same conspirators, is a clear indicator of the desperation with which some continue to deny the science, the evidence, and the sense of acting towards the future with some degree of prudence, given the risks we face.
So while the usual suspects enjoy their little Pyrrhic victory, perhaps we should all spare a thought for the anxious souls who insist that these same people who wasted two weeks in Cancun – taking their cue from the dear leaders who attended COP15 to identical effect – are capable of anything other than the foolish bickering, the division and dissent, that doom us all to our own devices in the face of a problem that should unite us.
And there is, in my opinion, no solution. For five years, I have been writing that no politician will enact legislation that is likely to lose them the next election. Climate change cannot be seriously addressed until the physical evidence is such that either the population become convinced, or – as James Lovelock suggested – democracy is suspended. (I’ve likened this before to the sudden, drastic change in media and public opinion in 1940 when the ‘phony war’ was ended by bombs dropping on London).
Climate change denialists make a mockery of prudence, despite many the mitigation steps towards climate change being the same steps we need to take anyway to address our energy requirements. So deeply entrenched – and so fearful – are the usual suspects on this and other fora, they would rather win a political battle knowing that while Cancun was an abject failure, neither the science nor nature itself gives a rats arse for deniers’ opinions – and predictions of the death of AGW are just as premature as Twain’s, unsupported by any kind of evidence, science or even common sense.
The ice continues to melt at accelerating rates, the seas continue to rise, the oceans pH is changing due to the extra CO2 being absorbed, the seasons periodicity is shifting, flora and fauna are under pressure, rice paddies are already being inundated with salt water, poisoning the crops, droughts are occurring in places that for centuries have enjoyed stable and (relatively) predictable seasonal climates, migration patterns are changing…and all this is the product of only a small change in global temperatures provoked by a small increase in CO2 proportions in the atmosphere.
While deniers claim some kind of victory, the more astute observer might suggest that denialism played no part in the failure of Cancun. The world is locked into a paradigm that only a terrible and costly shock appears likely to break them free of – and given the speed with which we are heading for this train-wreck, that shock will probably come sooner, and more violently, than anyone predicts.
Is there anything that can be done now? Frankly, I doubt it. One of the things I keep thinking about is the fate of empires. I’ve called this current paradigm the empire of electricity (‘cos I like the alliteration) but whatever you call it, like all past empires, this one will fall. Whether through resource shortages, wars, climate change, population growth, peak oil or the systemic failure of consumerist capitalism, I don’t believe this global empire can dodge the same fate that the previous 69 empires have suffered. They all rose in their glory, and all are dust now. It appears that Santayana missed the point: it isn’t that we don’t learn from history. It now appears that we can’t, for it just isn’t in our nature to do so. (Not yet, anyway).
We can deny the science, we can deny the problems exist, we can rail against how unfair it all is and twist and turn and dodge, but in the end, we will get what we deserve. On the basis of the AGW threads I have read this week, our reward for this intransigence will be bitter fruit indeed.
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NB: If you read this post and want to know more about what the science really says, here are some useful references:
On Arctic ice losses – getting really bad now – here is the <a href=”https://gpwayne.wordpress.com/2010/11/01/noaa-arctic-report-card-2010-update-video/”>NOAA 2009 Arctic Report Card update (video)</a>.
For those interested in evidence for human agency in climate change, here is another report from the NOAA: <a href=”http://www.skepticalscience.com/10-Indicators-of-a-Human-Fingerprint-on-Climate-Change.html”>State of the Climate 2009</a>