Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The World Bank talks Global Warming

The World Bank recently published a delightful report called Turn Down the Heat in which they laid out the case for taking seriously the threat posed to our civilisation by Global warming.  In it they detail the consequences of a 4 degree centigrade global average temperature rise.  This, by the way, is what an overwhelming majority of scientists are predicting will occur if we don't change a lot of our practices very drastically, very quickly.  The numbers, you will not be surprised to learn, rise from 'an overwhelming majority' to 'near unanimity' once you filter the set [scientists] to exclude creationists/religious fundamentalists and corporate shills.

The forward sets the tone:
It is my hope that this report shocks us into action. Even for those of us already committed to fighting climate change, I hope it causes us to work with much more urgency
The data which follows is as depressing as it is obvious to anyone who is willing to pay attention to what is happening.  But the solutions are harder.  A high priority has to go to discrediting those groups who try to maintain, for their own selfish ends, the illusion that this is a two-sided issue.  Who comprise these groups?  I think there is a coarse grained division to be made amongst them, into the greedy and the religious.  The greedy are those who stand to profit from the maintenance of the status quo.  In particular, big businesses working within greenhouse-emitting industries, such as oil companies, but also industrial capitalists more generally.  The religious are those for whom the idea that we can cause or prevent these harms strikes at the foundation of their belief systems.  So not all religious people are at fault, only those who are willing to deny the evidence of the world in favour of the evidence of their [interpretation of their] sacred texts.

Attacking greed/growth is probably the easier of the two.  We at least have a template in place by which governments can (although they seldom, and more seldom effectively do) restrict the activities of industry, and enforce standards for emissions which will reduce the harm caused by these actors.  But our society as a whole is reluctant to criticise religion and religious beliefs, even when the maintenance and acceptance of these positions creates actual, identifiable harms.  We see this reluctance in the continued respect paid to, for example, the Catholic Church, even as the evidence mounts that, from Ireland to the USA to Australia, the Church has systematically aided and abetted sexual abusers in evading justice.  We see it further in the ideological acceptance of climate change denial as a legitimate position, backed by evidence.  It is not.  Religiously motivated climate change denial is a deliberate evil, which governments, the media, and the general public should stop dignifying with attention, and begin to more actively oppose.


Because of course, that is likely to happen.


No comments:

Post a Comment