Monday, January 16, 2006

We're all doomed; but are we bothered?

Many thinkers believe we are pessimists because our potential ancestors who were too optimistic took too many risks and were wiped out (equally the real pessimists couldn't be bothered to get up and were also extinguished so we're only mildly pessimistic). We do seem to enjoy being scared and if it's about something that we can do nothing but blame the government, or nowadays the Americans, for, so much the better. On a lean news day, the Independent majors on Professor James Lovelock's gloomy outlook for life on Earth.

Ghosts, goblins and bumps in the night were pretty scary before reliable electric light. The twentieth century was dominated for the British by fears of mechanised total war in Europe and then of nuclear destruction. Worthy people joined pacifist movements and, later, CND. They were really asking for the impossible, for weapons to be un-ivented.

Now we fret about climate change and many tend, almost gleefully, to accept the most pessimistic predictions. Such concerns may well be justified but, as Professor Lovelock makes clear, there is very little anyone can do about it. But it has become like a religion with its own curious rituals. Well-meaning people get really cross if we don't sort our rubbish into different coloured boxes or forget to switch off our televisions. Worthy newspapers like the Independent rail against climate change yet still stuff their pages with travel tips to exotic locations and lifestyle features on topics most of which unnecessarily increase our energy consumption.

What's to do about it? I agree with the good professor that governments should worry more about planning for the affects (or is it effects?) of climate change as much as they do about trying to prevent it. Not building on low level land would be a good start but would bring out the droves of Nimbys on the higher ground. And Professor Lovelock thinks nuclear energy is the only viable short-term fix to our impending electricity generating crisis.

But don't panic. On a cosmic scale does it really matter if our species is wiped out? The planet will survive.


At 17:47, Blogger James Aach said...

You might find "Rad Decision" interesting. It is a novel about nuclear power written by a longtime US nuclear engineer, and it provides a entertaining inside look at the industry (both good and bad). It's been endorsed by another environmental icon who's breaking away from the pack with regards to energy - Stewart Brand, founder of The Whole Earth Catalog. Rad Decision is available at no cost to readers at

At 19:53, Blogger Calvin Jones said...

Hello, I run a blog about climate change called climate change action. Occasionally i look through technorati for people also writing about climate change and let them know about my site. Usually most of these people find my site of interest. If you like the site you can subscribe via RSS, bloglines or e-mail, alternatively you can just bookmark it! Also if you like the site then why not provide a link?

I hope this is of interest.

Calvin Jones

Climate Change Action: The issues, the solutions.


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