Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Time to get used to the stupidity and move on

As per, The Guardian tries to keep abreast of developments in climate science. Though at times the headlines are irritatingly provocative, in general it does a decent job.

This morning's piece on Wm Happer, here, contained a quotation from the latter which is so stupid I thought it deserved a mention:

“There’s a huge amount of money that we spend on saving the planet,” he said. “If it turns out that the planet doesn’t need saving as much as we thought, well, there are other ways you could spend the money."

Though the stupidity is self-evident to some of us, I'll try not to take anything for granted and just unpack this a bit.

First off: "there's a huge amount of money we spend on saving the planet"

Okay, Mr Happer, please provide examples of these 'huge amounts' of money. Now, compare the amounts with the 'huge amounts' we spend trashing the planet; how do these figures compare?

Beyond this, why does anyone think that the planet might need saving in the first place? 

Is it, perhaps, because some people have identified a number of risks? Is it because decades of analysis from insurance companies, military think tanks, corporates and, on top of these, academics and specialists, have led these people to think that some types of human interaction with the planet is a risk, not just to the planet but, more meaningfully, to the people who live here?

Trying to find an analogy is challenging, because there is really very little comparison to be made - we only have one planet. We need it. We need the living things besides us which live on it. We need its atmosphere and oceans. We'd quite like to keep hold of most of the people on it, too, for a decent lifespan.

Then we need to ask; what is it that people think the planet needs protecting from? What is the source of these risks? It is us, our activities, exploitation, misuse, abuse, destruction, pollution, chaotic and entropic dissolution of that which we once inherited. 

Happer's point is easy to unpick: the administration is going to remove not just protection but also monitoring. The mistreatment of 'the planet' is not a risk - not enough of a risk - to justify reining back its continuation, or the corporates who profit from it, despite the endless, depressing, ongoing warnings from pretty much every direction that if we go on like these we really will be screwed.

This isn't an argument for inaction - it is way too stupid to be graced with the title of 'argument'. It is an excuse. Happer may as well have said : "we aren't going to even try to improve things because it might make some of us less rich".

Get used to it. This is going to continue for a while. It has been going on in the UK for several years, with government using any excuse to justify its systematic ideology-driven demolition of all the social systems which we have already paid for, simply to reduce its revenue commitments and pass on the problems and solutions into private (and often international) hands.

The current administration will provide spurious and trivial justifications for stupid decisions which bear no relation to the reasons for them.

Get used to it, and move on. If the chimps are throwing their caca at the visitors, go enjoy the penguins instead, while you still can.