I’m all for scepticism. Climate change will eventually cost billions of pounds taxpayers money and shift us towards a different way of life, so there’s every right to question its credibility. But I made my mind up a long time ago on the climate debate; the only thing I’m left sceptical about is the sceptics.
Climate change scepticism has swelled to a massive proportion. But why? The vast majority of governments and scientists acknowledge climate change to be real and a real threat but scepticism is on the rise. So how is the minority prevailing?
First, the only way to avoid the effects of climate change is to have government intervention and increased spending. To name a few examples: cap and trade, feed-in tariffs, taxes on polluters; all these cost money and no matter how small, are an expanse of government. This is in fierce opposition to right wing ideology which is perhaps why the right’s general opposition to action on climate change is proving so popular, particularly in traditionally conservative countries such as America.
What has to be taken in to account, however, is the vast cost the taxpayer already pays from Governments propping up the fossil fuel industry in subsidies. The European Environment Agency found that for every £1 spent subsidising renewable energy projects, £4 is spent on fossil fuels.
But despite the costs of ignoring climate change, doing so still proves politically popular. Tony Abbott, opposition leader in Australia, described climate change as “absolute crap“. It went down a treat.
Of the few scientists and politicians that loudly deny climate change, many have been found to be in the pockets of large oil companies. So while their ‘scepticism’ may be accounted for, the large number of the general public who don’t believe the problem to be man-made gain no profit from it and turn a blind eye to the 97% consensus amongst scientists.
The recent leaked emails have only armed the hard-line sceptics, but they are far from throwing all the science into doubt. The fundamental problem at the route of everyone’s scepticism is that climate change doesn’t exist for most of us in the here and now. We don’t see the vast floods, extreme weather patterns and glacial disappearances the science predicts. We don’t feel the hottest summers and the warmest winters. We don’t live with the mass migration and the lack of readily available drinking water climate change is expected to bring. But before long we will and for those in Bangladesh and similar countries, they already are.
All that can be done for now is to be consistent in our argument, transparent with the science and ambitious in our actions. Scepticism might be on the up but there’s nothing to say that won’t change.