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The Disruption of Comfort
Wednesday April 13, 2011 11:10 by Jack McCarthy - Jack McCarthy mccarth.jack at gmail dot com
Why the Irish public continue to reject scientific consensus on man-made climate-change.
Feelings of doubt and confusion are rampant in the Irish public regarding the reality of man-made climate-change. It seems that we don’t know who or what to believe. “It’s a conspiracy” some say, “the scientists just want more money” say others, “there’s always a panic about something”. I do not suggest for a second that the population of Ireland have been convinced of this standpoint, oh no, we have simply chosen to believe it. We have made this decision despite the weight of evidence and consensus that strongly enforces the contrary. We have chosen not to believe in man-made climate-change because, to a convenience loving, consumption driven, energy-guzzling individual in 21st century Ireland, it is by far the easier conclusion to draw.
One needs only to take a glance at the situation to realise that, for the majority, a moral vacuum around this issue exists in Ireland. Lives and livelihoods have already been swept away in floods and flames yet in Ireland a public apathy surrounds the issue of climate change. In Ireland we have not yet seen the floods or fires, rains or storms to the level that these have occurred in Pakistan, Russia or Australia. So far we can comfortably ignore the situation and hold on to our lifestyle of consumption. The arguments presented in the media against man-made climate-change and its causes appeal enormously to our desire to hold onto every last inch of comfort. Based on this desire cynicism towards climate-change has gained a strong foothold. Not only does this allow us to justify our inaction (at least to ourselves), it also encourages the vilification of those who do act. The Shell to Sea campaign, for instance, has been portrayed as a group of idealistic environmentalists and NIMBYs completely out of touch with the way the world works. Groups like them all over the country and the world are tarred with the same brush. In a nation where the government seems intent on protecting the interests of international conglomerates and big business ahead of its own people the only way to be heard is to read up, stand up and speak out with as much solidarity, coherence and level headedness as we can muster.
We must stand face to face with the cold, hard facts, such as the fact that we in Ireland emit three times our share of global greenhouse gases per capita , that CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is rising 200 times faster than at any point in recorded history , that this concentration has risen by 1/3 since the dawn of the industrial age . We must face the fact that 99% of scientists agree on the reality of man-made climate-change (despite the suggestions of some media sources), that this presents a very real danger, the effects of which are already being felt and the logical conclusion that something drastic needs to be done about it starting right now.
I ask you now and I ask aloud, how can inaction be justified? I tell you that it simply cannot. This is not a case of an “every little helps” solution. Every little helps a little. Real, drastic, wide scale action is necessary right now and will increasingly become so. It is those in elected office who have the power to bring these issues to the fore of the political agenda and we the people who have the responsibility to urge them to do so. The supposed confusion people feel around man-made climate-change has simply become an excuse to carry on as normal and stick our heads in the figurative sand. The time is now to listen to reason, scientific consensus and to look a little deeper than just accepting everything we are fed on the six o’clock news. Those who inhabit the nations of this world with easy access to education, healthcare and strong records in the upholding of human rights have a responsibility to become aware of the broader interests of the human race and the global effects of our lifestyles. That means you, that means me, that means now.