Tackle climate change with logic instead of alarmism

Remember Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish climate activist? This is an excerpt from her famous 2019 speech. “The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees (Celsius), and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control,» Thunberg told the United Nations. “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!»

“How dare you» got instant life as a meme, circulated millions of times by everyone from woke environmentalists to jilted lovers from South Sudan to Sultanganj.

Last week, Greta Thunberg deleted a tweet she had posted in 2018. The tweet said: “A top climate scientist is warning that climate change will wipe out all of humanity unless we stop using fossil fuels over the next five years.» Five years have passed, and as far as I can make out, we are still using fossil fuels and there is no immediate threat of us humans being wiped off earth.

It’s that old story, all over again. Former American vice-president Al Gore is the only person other than George Bernard Shaw to have won both a Nobel Prize and an Oscar. Gore won the awards for his documentary Inconvenient Truth (2006), which spoke of an environmental catastrophe on its way.

In the film, he predicted that the global sea level would rise as much as 20 feet “in the near future». Soon after garnering enormous money and adulation for his film and concern about impending doom, Gore spent $9 million to buy a sea-front villa in Montecito, California, that, if his predictions were correct, would soon be submerged. And his ancestral 10,000-plus-square-foot home in Tennessee uses more electricity in one year than the average American family uses in 21 years, according to a study done by the American National Center for Public Policy Research.

Former US president Barack Obama consistently spoke about climate change and hot rising oceans, but bought a $11-million house in Martha’s Vineyard—6,892 square feet on nearly 30 secluded acres—barely above the current sea level.

Why should we take anything that such people say seriously? These are people who are saying that the world will end unless we do something dramatically different from the way we live our lives, and then buy insanely expensive homes right where the world is supposed to end. All of this would be hilarious if it weren’t so disturbing.

In the tweet that she has since deleted, Thunberg was quoting Harvard professor James Anderson, who, she claimed, had said that if we did not stop the use of fossil fuels by 2023, the polar ice caps would be gone. This, as far as my understanding of scientific reasoning goes, is as balderdash a statement as any the Mad Hatter or the dormouse could have made in Alice in Wonderland. There is absolutely no logic that can justify a prediction of all of us dying if we don’t stop running our petrol-driven cars in five years. And guess what—those five years are already over!

Interestingly enough, my Google searches did not find any evidence that Anderson had actually said something like that. The closest he came to predicting doomsday was when he said that continued use of fossil fuels could cause irreversible damage to the polar ice caps. That is not even close to humanity being wiped out. In fact, the whole history of humankind has been about innovating and managing to deal with environmental forces that are much bigger than us and wholly oblivious of our limited interests and hopes.

The last time I checked, penguins were not wearing cardigans and we were not frying to death, whether in Los Angeles or Lucknow. Climate alarmism is a big issue with a lot of ideological paraphernalia, but we need to engage with it logically.

Greta Thunberg has been out of the news cycle now for three years. Her statements have been typical of our times, feeding an incessant media appetite with little regard for the truth or falsity of what is propagated—after all, you need only to tap a button on your cellphone. Instagram is life.

Thunberg’s rants had a large audience and she was even thought of as a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize. The covid pandemic was a horrid setback for her, when people worried that their lives were more at risk from things other than coal or petrol. The Ukraine war has also been a problem, as people in the West figured out that you need gas—specifically, Russian gas—to keep your homes from not getting really cold. And she has now been upstaged in a way by Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistan-born activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2014 who reportedly charges more than $100,000 to attend a function.

Let me cite a Vogue report on Yousafzai’s appearance at the Oscar awards ceremony last week: “Malala was styled by Dena Giannini in a custom Ralph Lauren gown with built-in headscarf, which was entirely covered in silver sequins. ‘She looked so beautiful!’ Giannini told British Vogue. Malala’s shimmering dress was accessorised with antique earrings and a navette diamond ring… The 25-year-old wanted her look to ‘symbolise hope’ Giannini told Vogue.»

Sandipan Deb is a former editor of ‘Financial Express’, and founder-editor of ‘Open’ and ‘Swarajya’ magazines


Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint.
Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.


Оцените статью