Heat waves, Big Oil and getting bothered and enraged.
“But what’s wrong with cutting harmful emissions, with ceasing to pollute our planet, with looking after the environment?”
BBC Two is running a major series on climate change:
The most important story of our time. Despite climate chaos raging across the planet and urgent warnings from experts, our dependence on fossil fuels persists. How did we get here?
With a review from the Telegraph:
Whatever else you thought of Big Oil v the World (BBC Two), you had to admit it was topical… “Big Oil” in this first episode was represented by ExxonMobil – not just the largest oil and gas company in the world in the 1970s, we were told, but the largest company in existence.
In response to the documentary, the company said that its public statements about climate change “are, and always have been, truthful, fact-based, transparent and consistent with the contemporary understanding of mainstream climate science”. Nobody from Exxon was willing to appear in the programme.
Plenty of other people were, though. On the one side were the scientists, some of whom had worked for Exxon and initially believed that the company had commissioned research into greenhouse gases because they wanted to be part of the solution. On the other were the spin doctors whose job was seemingly to cast doubt on that research, along with Republican senator Chuck Hagel, who opposed the Kyoto Protocol but now says he was misled by vested interests.
The documentary laid out evidence of a “campaign of denial” – discrediting scientists, enlisting “an emerging industry of naysayers” to appear in the media talking down the environmental costs, and making claims that reducing emissions would hurt the economy. It was an eye-opening look at the dark art of corporate communication…
Much of this was echoed in today’s piece from Martin Hepp in the Western Morning News – where he says some people are getting entirely too hot-headed about the heatwave:
I was amazed this week, not only by the ferocity of the heat, but also by the blazing ferocity with which a lot of people greeted any mention of that heat. “What’s wrong with our Nanny State? We had the heat much longer in 1976 and you didn’t hear all this nonsense about global warming then! Why are the media so obsessed now?” harrumphed an old friend on Facebook.
My social media feed was filled with such comments – almost as if there was some kind of evil conspiracy afoot designed to overthrow civilised society by getting us all to worry about this mythical thing called climate change. There seems to be a desperate cry of: “It doesn’t exist!” – as in Hans Christian Andersen’s fable, The Emperor’s Robes, only a lot more serious.
I’d have thought, as we reeled in record-breaking temperatures, the old fashioned theory that it’s all much ado about nothing had finally been dispelled. We not only felt the heat, but we saw images of English villages burning as though they were in somewhere like Southern Spain or Australia. Add the knowledge that 99 scientists out of every 100 are absolutely certain global-warming is happening, and surely there really is little room for doubt?
But here’s the question I’d like to ask. Even if it turned out that some hitherto unknown quirk of nature had managed to fool all the climate experts, then why get so bothered and enraged?
“Back in the ’76 heatwave we schoolboys merely took off our jackets and ties and got on with it!” boasted one diehard in a newspaper letters page.
Good for him! But what’s wrong with cutting harmful emissions, with ceasing to pollute our planet, with looking after the environment? If our lacklustre politicians could get their slow heads around the notion, this nation could become rich on leading the way in developing new green technologies. How could that possibly make anyone angry?