Carbon aside, I’ve always been careful with the environment feeling that, while I have every right to be here, exercise my curiosity and enjoy what is probably my only life, that I should also be mindful of others who share it. I take care to live what I think of as a tidy and self-contained life – though of course that’s only relatively speaking because I’m not a fundamentalist and it’s been at least a decade since I thought rosily of subsistance farming as a viable option for humanity. Broadly speaking, I’m positive about technology – after all, I owe it my emancipation as a woman and my longevity as a human. I’m also vigilant (though ignorant).
I watched The Great Global Warming Swindle the other day on Channel 4 – Thur 8th March, 9pm with enormous interest as eminent scientist after eminent scientist discredited (or was edited to discredit, I should allow) anthropogenic global warming. The main arguments were that rises in carbon dioxide followed periods of heating caused by solar activity, and that human emissions of hothouse gases were dwarfed by those from volanoes, decomposing organic matter and the sea. The sea was important – its mass makes it slow to heat and cool, giving it a memory of temperature of around 800 years. Warm seas emit CO2; cool seas absorb it. The theory therefore holds that we are currently experiencing a CO2-induced greenhouse effect as a result of the mediaeval hot period during which there were vineyards as far north as Scotland. They unhitched the relationship between CO2 and human emissions with reference to the post-war period during which human emissions increased dramatically but temperatures fell, leading to fears in the ’70s of an ice age. Scientists reported difficulties in making this theory heard; they were made pariahs which they attributed to the political agenda of developed countries which espoused fuel security (e.g. Thatcher in the light of the miners’ strike) and, in a cheating, goal-post changing way, consolidation of their place in the global market. They were particularly vitriolic when it came to the implications of this: that developing countries should abandon their oilfields and coalfields and fall back on green technologies – currently expensive and imperfect. Lots of pictures of plump crusties in fields (the Thick Left again).
I’m in no position to evaluated the theories, but they fly in the face of everything that is taken for granted now. Would it alter the way I live now if they were true? Not really, I think – because there’s so much more to avoiding pollution than cutting carbon and invariably you avoid pollution in the same way you cut down carbon. But for developing countries?
The discussion board is probably worth a look.