Confession – I’m a skeptic when it comes to climate alarmism. I know this isn’t going to get me a seat at the popular kids’ table, and I may even get rotten tomatoes thrown at me in the form of social media insults. However, I can’t blindly believe all the hype and doom being hurled at me like holy water at an exorcism. I can’t unquestioningly believe that the earth will be destroyed and humans will go extinct in less than ten years because we use fossil fuels. As I read more and more about the climate, I cannot ignore dissenting voices and contrarian views simply because celebrities, politicians, and the mainstream media believe a certain way.
Foretelling of environmental catastrophe and impending doom has been happening my entire life. I was reminded of this recently when I picked up a magazine from the time I spent in India many years ago. I happened to purchase the April 23, 2007, edition of “India Today” with the cover story “Global Warming – What we can do to save India”. Even though it used the now-defunct term “global warming”, the inside story entitled “APOCALYPSE NOW” in giant, capital letters, grabbed my attention because it provided hindsight to test the dogma of climate alarmism.
Written at a time when concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were at their highest in 6.5 million years, at 379 parts per million (we are at 414.03 ppm as of June 16, 2020), some of the more notable predictions highlighted in the article, per the latest UN panel report, included:
· From the cover page:
o 40% of Himalayan glaciers would vanish.
o 25% of wildlife will perish.
o Food and water shortages will be the norm.
o Dengue and cholera will spread.
· By 2020, Mumbai’s sea front could be a foot underwater if the Greenland Ice Sheet collapses, raising sea levels.
· Delhi 2020 – it will be a year without winter, causing temperatures to soar across northern India.
o The Gangetic plain will be turned into a dust bowl.
o The wheat crop has failed, resulting in farmers “committing suicide by the droves”.
o Food riots have broken out as the government can no longer control distribution.
o Death and disease rise, resulting in a pervasive smell of rotting flesh.
o Fierce, unseasonal storms lash the West Coast.
· “Much of the living Earth has become a living, boiling hell.”
· 5 degrees Celsius is the expected rise in global temperatures by the end of the 21st century.
· Global average rise in sea levels could be as much as 0.8 metres by 2100.
Wow. I remember reading the article in 2007 and being worried. Fortunately, time has passed and we now have the benefit of hindsight to review the accuracy of the article’s cataclysmic predictions. Frustratingly, many of the most catastrophic ones were issued without a definitive timeline for when they’re expected to occur, so it’s difficult to corroborate their accuracy because we can’t measure if they occurred as prognosticated. But I guess the end of the world has been coming for at least three millennia; hence for the alarmist, undoubtedly, the end is near.
I think we’re safe to say that many of the 2007 predictions outlined above were attention-grabbing and overly exaggerated. For example, it is predicted that India will have record production of wheat, rice and corn for the 2019-2020 crop year due to monsoon rainfall and weather conditions.
Unfortunately, similar alarmist predictions are hurled at us today. It’s as if the Emperor has no clothes but everyone is too afraid to say anything.
The classic fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes” tells the story of a political leader (the Emperor) who lavishly spends taxpayers’ money for his own vanity (to be the best dressed man in the land). He keeps up personal appearances at the expense of everyone else without doing anything to address real problems.
Eventually, the Emperor is swindled into believing that a new, innovative cloth can be weaved that is invisible to anyone who is unfit for their job or is simple-minded. Desiring this fabric, the Emperor pays the swindlers vast amounts of the money he receives from his loyal subjects, and they gladly take it knowing they can pocket the silk and strands of gold given to weave the fabric. They also know they will only have to go through the motions to create the promised outcome because they have already convinced the Emperor they have something he wants.
The Emperor’s advisors, who are monitoring the work, report seeing the impressive cloth, even though it does not exist. None of the staff were willing to admit that they didn’t see anything for fear that they would be seen as unfit for their jobs. Even the townspeople play along with the charade by clapping and cheering vociferously when the Emperor prances about proudly during the public procession to show off his new outfit.
It took a small, innocent child with nothing to lose to state the obvious – the Emperor has no clothes, he has been swindled, and all of his advisors and subjects were willing to look the other way and accept the con.
My skepticism of climate alarmism does not mean that I’m endorsing a hedonistic annihilation of our beautiful planet; not at all. Conservation practises and environmental protection are vital. Destroying the earth is not an acceptable option. However, screaming panic-inducing alarm at us like a banshee isn’t helpful either. When Vogue (fashion) magazine is giving advice on how to talk to your kids about eco-anxiety, you know we have gone too far.
To the environmental alarmists, I say: stop scaring our children with your tales of environmental catastrophe. To the rest of us, I ask: where is this proverbial child that will knock on our collective consciousness and remind us that the world is not ending today or anytime soon?