Climate change – fact or funding opportunity?

If you watch or read the news at all, you cannot miss the fact that the issue of climate change provokes great disagreement as to whether it is real or not.

Being described in Australia as “this great moral, environmental and economic challenge of our age” (then PM Kevin Rudd, 2009) and alternatively as “absolute crap” (then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, 2009, now PM), it is not only temperature measurements that are showing increasing heat. Unfortunately the debate doesn’t tend to generate quite as much light.

How do we protect the environment and deal with climate change?

We need to establish a new relationship with our planet

According to NASA, “ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate-warming trends over the past century are very likely due to human activities, and most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position”.

The climate change skeptics claim that these scientists cannot be trusted. While most of the skeptics (but not all) agree from the figures that global warming is occurring, they claim that there is significant disagreement within the scientific community as to whether human activity is the cause. The most popular argument is that climate change has always and will always occur naturally. They also claim that climate change research is part of a worldwide conspiracy by scientists to fraudulently obtain funding for their research.

If you look at which scientific institutions are actually mentioned on the list above, we are talking about the most respected scientific institutions in every major country on the planet. Are we really to believe that all of these scientists are corrupt thieves and academic frauds, manipulating findings just so they can limit the freedoms and steal the money out of the pockets of deserving corporate polluters everywhere?

It’s also quite enlightening looking at the qualifications of the leading climate change critics and their ‘dissenting scientists’ as well as who pays their bills. Talk about pots and black kettles! And some of them are apparently excited at the prospect of ships navigating all year round through an ice-free Arctic Circle! Are they kidding? Aren’t they just a bit worried the greater intensity of storms and heatwaves we seem to be experiencing every year – not just occasionally – is a sign of more ominous things to come?

It is quite true that the geological record shows frequent shifts in climate throughout Earth’s history. (Which actually IS longer than 7,000 years!) And we know from written historical records that in Roman times the Earth was warmer, and that a ‘Little Ice Age’ occurred between about 1550 and 1850.

However, if the overwhelming majority of qualified scientists in the world are warning that it is humans who are the critical factor in changing the climate, not natural climate cycles, and that the latest measurements are indicating that the rate of this change is actually exceeding their worst case scenario models, I’m inclined to believe them over the progressives of the Flat Earth Society and the people whose salaries are paid by the companies causing the warming.

And if the skeptics out in the street (not the salaried ones) don’t believe these ‘mad scientists’, will they perhaps believe studies commissioned and published by some more unusual sources in the last 12 months (as at July 2013)?

Accounting firm Price Waterhouse Cooper warns: “Now one thing is clear: businesses, governments and communities across the world need to plan for a warming world – not just 2ºC, but 4ºC and, at our current rates, 6ºC.” What about the International Energy Agency (IEA) report: ‘If action to reduce CO2 emissions is not taken before 2017, all the allowable CO2 emissions would be locked-in by energy infrastructure existing at that time.’ Or the World Bank’s report that hopes that “this report shocks us into action”. Not exactly your run-of-the-mill alarmist funding-grabbing scientific institutions, are they?

World Bank: World Could Be 4 Degrees Hotter By End of This Century

Because if all or even most of these reports and studies ARE right in their predictions and we do nothing, every bit of economic and political stability we enjoy now is going to go right out the window by 2050 or so. Perhaps we should think of our children and their children, and not of the disinformation campaigns of the major carbon offenders and their record profit forecast for this financial year.

And finally, even if the effects of climate change prove to be less dire than predicted, can we afford to take that chance?

Our Stewardship: And God said, “You’re fired!”

According to Chapter 1, Verse 26 of the Book of Genesis, after creating the Earth and everything in it, … then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

Whether we take the Bible-given dominion over the Earth literally or as allegory, many see that or a host of other cultural, nationalist, economic or religious justifications as a licence to indulge in an orgy of exploitation unprecedented in history. With human overpopulation undoubtedly adding fuel to the wildfire, expanding human populations and human encroachment on previously isolated habitats are putting us at the centre of one of those great extinction events usually caused by comet strikes, supervolcanoes, or radical climate change.

Human intelligence and adaptability makes us the top of the food chain on this planet. But along with intelligence, we have also been given morality and an ever more sophisticated civilising tendency, and those who are more evolved see our dominion over the Earth as a stewardship of responsibility, not just of exploitation.

But if God employed us as the Steward, we deserve the sack. We are doing a particularly bad job in this role.

All around the world we see the clearing of forests, poaching of animals to the point of extinction for dubious medicinal remedies or just plain greed, mining practices that threaten food and water supply, commercial and banking practices that pillaging Vikings could be proud of. This outpouring of naked greed seems to be working itself into a frenzy, as if this were the Earth’s closing-down sale, and everything must go.

To put it indelicately, we are pooing with abandon in our own nest, and that nest is looking more and more the worse for wear. Isn’t it time we let some principles take flight – and perhaps learn to recognise air currents that can take us to even newer  and loftier heights?

What can one person do?

According to the World Health Organisation, “an estimated 24% of the global disease burden and 23% of all deaths can be attributed to environmental factors”.

(Prüss-Üstün A, Corvalán C. Preventing Disease Through Healthy Environments. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2006.

Some advocates of a more conscious personal environmental action plan have called for people to do what they can to reduce dangerous chemicals, toxins and allergens from their own personal surroundings. We’ve got stop being theoretical and start acting practically.

Here are 10 Ways to Protect the Environment — and Your Own Health here to get you started.