Sceptic? Stupid and cowardly, more like

December 4, 2009

Climate change sceptic? You, sir or madam, are stupid. But more importantly, you are also a coward.

You’re stupid because you’re in denial of a vast wealth of evidence. Vast. But that’s not what really needs saying: the arguments are going to roll on with the leaked emails and the naysayers, the green camps, the marches. People like James “right about everything” (his words, not mine) Delingpole are going to carry on writing the kind of stuff we’ve seen recently, and you endless lines of people denying there is anything wrong are going to keep commenting and blathering and pulling other figures out and countering every argument that is put forward.

The fact is, if we had a form signed in blood by every scientist on the planet swearing blind that all the evidence was overwhelmingly supportive of man’s impact on global warming, you’d still find something or some way to deny it. You’d probably decide that science was in fact the wrong discipline to be basing Western civilisation on, that gravity didn’t exist and we should all start howling at the moon instead. Then if we got the moon to sign the form too, you’d move on to something else. That’s what you’re like, right?

Here’s the thing that you, Mr Sceptic, seem to fail to realise:

I, and the millions of others who are convinced by the overwhelming evidence (that’s the evidence that just keeps coming pretty much universally from scientists the world over):  we don’t mind looking stupid. In thirty years time, I’m actually going to be pretty damn pleased when my kids and their kids swing by and take the piss that “once upon a time, dad thought that the WORLD WAS GOING TO END! What a FOOL!”. I’m going to laugh at myself, too. Long and very, very hard.

If I spend the next thirty years turning off lights, cutting down my waste, trying hard to economise and re-cycle and minimise my impact as much as possible and it then turns out that actually there really IS a bottomless pit of oil and a corresponding hole in the ground into which I can pour all my plastic shit, I’m going to be delighted. I’ll be out there partying with the rest of you, burning a few tyres, driving my 4×4 round the block and running my dishwasher all night. Count me in. I’ll be needing to get drunk MORE than you lot because I’ll have been denying myself all this WASTE FUN that you’ll have been having for three decades. Fantastic.

But the thing is, Mr Sceptic, I’d really rather not take the chance. And there’s two points for me here. Firstly, it’s Tim O’Reilly’s post about Pascal’s Wager: if we’re right about climate change, we should do something. If we’re wrong, what have we got to lose? Argue your arse out of that one, if you please. I know you’ll try.

Secondly, and this is possibly as important to me: wasting things is wrong. It has never been right. Food, electricity, lives: when has anything good ever come from using something that you don’t need? Why sit outside the shop with your engine running if you can turn it off and stop wasting something? Why throw plastic bags away when you can use them again? If you’re as rational as you claim to be, Mr Sceptic, please lay out the arguments why waste is good, if you please. I’d be delighted to hear them.

In short, Mr Sceptic, I would much much rather be in the camp of people who are trying and prepared to be wrong than in the camp of people who are denying. I think if you look deep inside yourself and behind your wall of bravado; I think if you take just a little bit of time to look not just at the world immediately in front of your eyes but the one beyond that; if you look behind the – oh so terribly fashionable to be cynical – exterior, you might find you actually feel the same way, too.

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