The future’s bright, the future’s bright green

The Great Global Warming Swindle, Channel Four’s infamous documentary caused uproar, bringing home how strongly many people feel about the threat of catastrophic climate change. It was riddled with inaccuracies and shoddy science, but it did get one thing right. Some people are so convinced about the dangers we are facing that they are no longer able to allow any debate on the topic. Well known commentators reacted to this programme with white hot disbelief. HOW DARE they say we might not be right? They are setting us back YEARS…

I know more than most about the force of this conviction in the green movement. I spent three miserable months working in one of the major environmental charities. I thought I was green and a committed environmentalist, but compared to some of my colleagues I had a long way to go.

I worked alongside people who really, and I mean really, believed that the world as we know it is going to end in a matter of years, not decades. That we are going to descend into a nightmarish future all because we couldn’t give up our addiction to air travel/Starbucks/strawberriesinfeb.

I admired their commitment, passion and ability to still keep fighting for change even though they thought it was too late. I did not admire the religious fervour of their beliefs which meant they berated, hectored and looked down on people who asked questions about the validity of the models they were using. The thing is…

WE DON’T KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE

This is a fact sometimes forgotten in climate change discussions. The science of climate prediction is an art, a very sophisticated crystal ball gazing exercise. We do have to make an attempt to work out what is going to happen to inform policy and to control our increasingly profligate use of resources, but I believe it is dangerous to present scientific prediction as fact.

I heard a joke on the radio recently.

Scientists have plotted the increase of Kate Moss as the model of choice for various products over the last year and have predicted she will be used to advertise 99% of all new products if current trends continue.

Obviously this is a flippant comparison, but even something as pointless as Kate Moss’s career is very unlikely to follow current trends as there are other factors the graph maker has not included.

There is nothing more complex than the Earth’s systems. And though the methods used by climate scientists are rigorous and thorough, can’t we allow the possibility that the models may not be right?

Yes, we need to cut down our use of power, plastics and petrol. We need to do this now. But not by frightening people into compliance. The human race is not worthless group of parasites, we are not a scourge on the face of the earth, we are a wonderful part of it. Granted we have made many mistakes and it is vital that we learn from them and move to a more positive future.

The organisation I worked with divided its supporters up into segments which were painted an imaginary shade of green. People who wrote a couple of postcards a year were light green and extremely committed supporters were dark green. I think we should find another way, and we should become BRIGHT GREENS.

The Dark Greens are desperate for change and they are frightened. They think that to get everyone else to change they need to frighten them too.

A small child is carrying a glass of orange juice. Her dads says, ‘be careful love, not near the new sofa.’ She looks up and wobbles. ‘I said watch out you are going to drop it, mind the table…. I SAID WATCH OUT….’

Guess what?

She is probably going to drop that blinking glass of juice.

We are all addicted to power, it’s too late, we are going going to die, waves of climate refugees will flood into this country, you mustn’t fly, you mustn’t eat fruit out of season, you mustn’t eat MacDonalds, you mustn’t, you mustn’t you mustn’t…

The thing is I know what I must do, and I whole heartedly embrace it as a positive choice. I face my future and it is bright; bright green.

6 comments

  1. I liked that: well said. I’m not sure I share your enthusiasm for the human race, but I do thing most people are more to be pitied than scalded. And your right on with your analagies of some green campaigners and the power of (negative) thought.

  2. Exactely. You can’t trust the science without a real debate. In the case of this post, though, someone else will have to come up with the antithesis 😉

  3. As Mark Twain said…There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

  4. Holier than thou green attitudes are negative and destructive.However I also believe we have a lot to be scared about. If not through climate change, our lives will change through peak oil. We have to move beyond an oil based economy. If we try and do this now through community initiatives (such as the transition towns movement), it will be a lot less painless when it happens.Personally I belive modern industrialised society is unsustainable. We need to get back in touch with the earth. We need to change our thinking so we’re not thinking I’m giving something up, but thinking about what we’re gaining. xx

  5. Holier than thou green attitudes are negative and destructive.However I also believe we have a lot to be scared about. If not through climate change, our lives will change through peak oil. We have to move beyond an oil based economy. If we try and do this now through community initiatives (such as the transition towns movement), it will be a lot less painless when it happens.Personally I belive modern industrialised society is unsustainable. We need to get back in touch with the earth. We need to change our thinking so we’re not thinking I’m giving something up, but thinking about what we’re gaining. xx

  6. Interesting we must have an ‘internal meme’. I posted something vaguely similar (but not nearly so articulate or well written) yesterday.I agree. Tell a kid they will fall and you set up an expectation… I can’t do negativity about it all – too much at stake for the next generations to not put faith in positive thought.x

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