Is climate change a matter for debate?

Apparently the answer is “Yes”, though in some cases ‘debate’ seems a less apposite description than ‘tirade’ or ‘tantrum’. President Trump is not alone in declaring the notion of climate change a ‘hoax’.

Two weeks ago, Sir David Attenborough presented a one-off, one-hour programme on BBC1 about climate change. It was informed, calm, and avoided undue pessimism while confronting the grim data head-on. The following link was sent to me a day or two later. My first response was to suppose it was a crude attempt at satire and meant to be funny. Then I discovered it was intended seriously.
There are two points of contention in this article. One, the minor one, is about the impartiality of BBC reporting. In this, I disagree with the author. Most of the time I find the BBC as fair as any news medium can ever be. The main exception during the past few years happened during the Scottish Independence referendum campaign, when the BBC was less than impartial. The fact that it was imbalanced in favour my personal position, i.e. maintenance of the Union, is neither here nor there; bias is bias. But that aberration was the exception not the rule. The other, much more major, point of contention concerns the reality of climate change and the global loss of biodiversity. In this, I can only describe the author as a blithering idiot, and a dangerous one.
I’m all for freedom of speech and healthy debate, so I’d love to ask the perpetrator of this link to engage in public debate – preferably on BBC television – with informed climate scientists, and/or with Sir David. But I’d bet he’d refuse such an invitation.
Less virulent in tone but similar in spirit is the following attack on Greta Thunberg, which seems to portray her as a pawn in the hands of people out to destroy our economy:
More rational in appearance – more of a debate than a tantrum or a tirade and accordingly, in my view, more worthy of consideration (however mistaken or misguided we might deem it) – is the following:
According to this article, climate change is indeed happening but it is not being caused by human activity. Reasonable points are made. However, they’re lined up against a formidable weight of contrary evidence. Moreover, even if the author were correct, the forthcoming effects of climate change on human lives (notably the drowning of our coastal cities) and of human activity on the planet as a whole (the obliteration of habitats and biodiversity) would still be undeniable.
Even when unwelcome facts are staring us in the face it can be difficult for some of us to accept them. Perhaps this is an ineluctable characteristic of Homo sapiens, but I can’t help feeling our education systems are failing to mitigate its damaging effects. If I’m right, then a drastic overhaul of the way we educate our citizens is urgently needed. However, the example of Greta Thunberg and the school strikes demanding government action on climate change suggest that I could be wrong.



  • Agreed — all of it. And even if humans weren’t influencing the environment negatively, even if it were all just the natural evolution of the planet, it’s blind stupidity to deny the climate has changed… and I don’t at all understand the stance of not preserving and nurturing the planet we live on. If you don’t believe we’re to blame, how is that an excuse to not do what we can to keep it habitable? But I suppose there’s more money to be made through destruction than through preservation, and we are a greedy, self-absorbed species…

    • Mark Henderson

      To reciprocate, Mishka: agreed, all of it. People are talking about “taking action before it’s too late), rather like applying the brakes after you’ve driven over a cliff.

  • Right!? But if we do go over that cliff — and it falls short of making Earth into a hellish replica of Venus — mayhap whatever evolves to sentience next will make more sense! (Though such is hardly a silver lining for those of us here now… except, mayhap, in a reincarnation kind of way…)

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