Climate change is not new.
The climate has been changing ever since the end of the Ice Age, around 10,000 years ago. There have been ups and downs but on the whole the world has been getting gradually warmer. However, many people are just becoming aware of it. At least, they have only recently recognised it as a problem we need to address. I confess to being in that category.
Climate change: what’s my story?
For a long time I thought it was scaremongering. Every time we had a hot summer people started saying we were entering a new hot era. Then one bad winter and it was the start of another Ice Age. I have always believed it to be dangerous to overreact to any one incident of anything: climate, crime, terrorism, a bye-election, whatever. I wrote about this, among other things, in my book How to Avoid Being Misled by Statistics. Of course, I was making the mistake of accepting the statistics I wanted and ignoring some inconvenient ones. Just the sort of thing I advise against in the book! I also wrote about the misuse of statistics in a recent post.
What’s wrong with a bit of climate change anyway?
I wondered why global warming, as we used to call it, mattered. Would it be so bad if temperatures went up on average by one or two degrees? If we had more hot summers and fewer very cold winters, who would mind? Blackpool could become the new Benidorm. Some people worried about the effects on wildlife. I thought that strange, as wildlife has always adapted to change. Surely, species could migrate to places where the climate suited them best? After all, there’s plenty of wildlife in warmer countries.
What made me rethink climate change?
I was converted by a programme where David Attenborough discussed that point. He said my theory (he didn’t mention me) would have been valid at the end of the Ice Age, but today there are too many man-made barriers which would impede migration. (He didn’t mention the Home Office). There could be mass extinctions.
Whose fault is climate change?
After a while, I acknowledged that there was an upward trend, despite an apparent levelling off in the 1990’s. However, I did not see how we could know the cause. The Ice Age did not end because of human activity! I argued, and I still think it was a valid point, that what mattered was that we should accept the inevitable and prepare to live with it. We needed to prepare for more extreme weather incidents, snow, storms, floods, heatwaves, and have plans for responding, such as snow-ploughs, flood defences. Surely, we should take climate into account in planning decisions. (Why do we still build in areas prone to flooding?) We need to manage every kind of risk. I wrote about that in another book, Load the Dice.
Not me, Sir!
I still don’t quite get the science, but I have finally come to accept that the majority of scientists believe human activity is the main reason for the accelerated warming that has taken place in the last century or two. It seems to have begun at the same time as the Industrial Revolution. Is that a coincidence? It looks as if we all need to do something about it. Changes to the economies and technologies of the world must be made. Some are for governments. Some are fore businesses. However, and I really regret having to write this, some are for you and me. I will not go into details in this article. There so many others to advise us all.
Isn’t climate change THEIR problem?
You can rightly say that other countries play a bigger role in causing this problem than the UK. Surely they need to act, not us? I agree, but you have to start somewhere. Let’s hope what we do catches on. It really needs coordinated international action, but let’s not wait for everyone else to catch up. Let’s get the ball rolling.
Is climate change a metaphor for something else?
Not really. It is a serious problem and we can’t ignore it On the other hand, why not ask yourself if there’s something else you’ve been ignoring or denying? A risk you are failing to manage? What stage of the journey are you at? Want to talk? You know where I am.