If the idea of the Higgs boson meant an urgent requirement of big business to change its thinking and its profits, would we frequently hear Nigel Lawson on Radio 4 stating that there is much uncertainty about the work at CERN and the scientific consensus gives much room for debate.
“We should approach these latest findings with scepticism. The jury remains out and it would be hasty for governments to bring in any restrictions based on the possibility of any boson.”
This is not a post of facts and evidence, just an emotional one concerning my confusion over our reaction to climate change science.
How can something so possibly devastating for human life be played with as if its just a parlour game for contrarian vent dummies popping out of the silk pockets of CEOs? Why is this the science that is more doubtful than most despite an impressive body of evidence? Instinctually, it seems it is because it is currently the branch of evidence based thinking that most urgently calls for a change in our consumerism and others’ profits.
Is Slavoj Žižek right that it is easier for us to imagine the end of the world than a change in global capitalism?
Are we losing our anticipatory animal instincts that made us what we are? Is anything beyond the immediate just a blurry imagining to be batted away?
I think I’ll be alright; I’ll be gone before it really kicks in. I’ll just have put up all the Guardian posters of the undersea creatures that became extinct during my lifetime; some amateurish blu tacking before the apocalypse. I imagine my heart will have burst on stage during an overly zealous Brian Blessed impersonation (and I imagine Brian Blessed will still be alive, outliving me by many years despite doing the impersonation for so much longer).
As I close my eyes and feel the blood slowing to a standstill, will I hear the thunder and think, “Well, I’ve left a right mess for my son. Will he find the plans I started for that ark?”
I don’t know much about climate change. I have read a couple of books by climate change scientists and Greg Craven’s What’s the Worst The Could Happen? I have talked to scientists, both generalists and those in the climate field, and on this limited information, I have decided to believe that something needs to be done.
I am prepared for a world where we must cut down our consumption and look at the costs to our planet. I am sure I may swear when I realise that I forgot to have a hot shower during the allotted time, and maybe I will look back with nostalgia at 24-hour TV and budget flights.
I don’t wish to imagine a future like The Road, but I presume I will have to imagine a world that may not be quite as well-lit and devil-may-care as my first 40 years (I was never really that devil-may-care, but my surroundings were).
I think our problem is the speed we become acclimatised. Life was always like this, wasn’t it? Will we be the last that can be the truly selfish ones?
“Excuse me, why did you screw it up for all of us?”
“Because we liked shiny things and pigging out, bad luck.”
Why did I smoke? I used to wake up every morning with a sore throat and think, “Oh no, that’ll be tonsil cancer, it’s curtains for me. You bloody fool, you killed yourself with your foolish Freudian oral fixation. Did you learn nothing from the man himself and his prosthetic jaw?”
Then an hour or so later I’d start smoking, all ready to face my imminent death the following day and the next one and the next one, but ambivalent until daylight and groundhog regret.
The slow trudge and barriers thrown up that slowed the acceptance of cancer and cigarettes being linked is frequently used as a case study in what is going on with climate change now. The possible ramifications of being stymied by big business and interest groups are far greater here.
When we are young, we mix up feelings of indestructibility and not giving a jot if we die (though facing it head on may soon change our mind). Maybe we are too young as a species to have come up with the technologies we have. Our minds, or some people’s minds, have created machines and conceits that are too complex for most of us impulsive juveniles. Are we toddlers with hand grenades?
Science requires doubt, but if we wait until all semblances of doubt are gone on the causes of climate change, there may be few us left in that bunker and that small procreative gene pool underground may lead to some lumpen oddities in the next stage of evolution.
In the end, I think of Joel Pett’s cartoo: “What if it’s all a big hoax and we make a better world for nothing?”
Is a world without the level of joys and comforts some of us have got used to in the last few decades, just not worth existing at all?
Robin Ince is a standup comedian, actor and writer. His latest DVD, Happiness Through Science, can be found here. This article originally appeared on his blog. For news of upcoming tour dates, visit robinince.com.