Oh lord, stop with the “climate emergency” nonsense – debasing the word emergency will not motivate a weary public to change its lifestyle
People are terrified about climate change. We get it. The message is universal and deafening and omnipresent. Fear has been instilled so deep that a considerable subset of the population is willing to stand up and support the idea that there is a true emergency going on here.
The problem is, no one truly believes it. Not even the climate scientists who claim to weep with despair and rage at the inaction. The entire concept of an emergency is a paper tiger, and that fact remains even if it is true – that is, even if humans are causing global warming, and if a 2 degree temperature rise will cause even half the problems activists claim – people may scream murder but won’t change their ways.
Here’s a good example. A recent headline in World Oil magazine declares “Tiny Pacific island eyes LNG market debut with supply deal”. Now, according to the conventional climate emergency lore, these tiny Pacific islands are about to be submerged and are, according to COP23 discussion points, “are among those who stand to lose the most from climate change.”
So for New Caledonia, is it an emergency, or not? If the country is looking to get a piece of the new global LNG trade, are they acting as though it is an emergency, when they are poster children for the looming disaster?
Another once-proud Canadian city – Edmonton – has joined the list of those who have declared “climate emergencies”. The trend isn’t municipal, of course; Canada itself declared a similar emergency. All these declarations are attempts to instil urgency in the population, to act as a catalyst for mass change.
Frankly, it is almost depressing is to watch elected officials leave their brains at the door and be harassed into taking such a mindless step.
That last sentence alone is enough to get me tarred and feathered as a “denier” in social media, but those that choose to do so should consider the rationale behind the claim. As my last meal before a social media execution, hear me out.
The people who encourage elected officials to proclaim such loony declarations know one side of the equation – that saving humanity requires limiting greenhouse gas emissions to the extent that the earth’s warming trend is slowed. Despite decades of haranguing, every year global emissions continue to rise, as does fossil fuel consumption.
So the next logical step for the climate activist crowd is the “climate emergency” designation as a means to instil sufficient fear to get people to act. Activists harass elected officials until they follow the script, and declare an emergency.
Which brings us to the other side of the equation – how this messaging is going to play out with the general population. Here, the wheels fall off, because it’s apparent that not a single climate emergency advocate has thought this through in even the most elementary way.
Let’s give activists the benefit of the doubt – let’s imagine that the climate emergency message gets through to the population, that they actually hear it and think about it. Let’s assume that they even accept the ferociousness of the demand, that this be treated as an “emergency” – not important, not critical, but an emergency.
What on earth do activists think will happen in the minds of the general population two weeks later? What do they think “action” will look like, in terms of emergency-like action? That is, will it remain in their consciousness as an emergency?
In a real emergency, immediate action is required or there will be catastrophic consequences. A flood is an emergency; leave or die. A looming tornado or hurricane is an emergency, flee or die. Declaring a state of emergency has always in the past meant immediate, concrete, and singular action – get the hell away from there, and now.
But for a climate emergency? What does that mean for Joe/Jane Public? Do they look out the window and panic at the sight of their vehicle, and abandon it? Do they panic at the thought of going on a holiday ever again, and cancelling them? Do they shut off the natural gas supply to their house?
No, of course not. Even in the best-intentioned people, the change will be gradual in nature, and will involve everything from shopping for different light bulbs to whatever else comes to mind that can be done with minimal cost or discomfort (recall that the majority of Canadians indicate that they would not be willing to spend more than $200 per year to help fight climate change; Americans are no different).
This is why New Caledonia, who will be doomed (according to doomsayers) if fossil fuel usage is not halted, is aggressively pursuing more trade in (and use of) fossil fuels.
It is inevitable then that the sense of urgency created by the “emergency” tag will wear off, and when it does, human nature guarantees that complacency will return with a vengeance, and we’ll be worse off than before because of all the wolf-crying. No one will wait for organic jet fuel before climbing on a plane again. Few people will get past the evaluation stage of an electric vehicle, and almost no one will change a single thing in their lifestyle to further the environmental cause, and any changes will be minuscule – riding a bike more, or changing some windows, or turning down the heat a degree. But wholesale changes will fade if comfort is at stake. That’s human nature.
The whole climate emergency strategy is going to do nothing more than hasten complacency in a public that is wearied aplenty by the stresses of daily life. The constant haranguing – with no visible benefit whatsoever for any efforts made – will simply annoy people until they just tune out the whole message.
Can any elected official out there think anymore? I suppose maybe I’d stop thinking too, if faced with a pitchfork-wielding mob that is terrified out its collective mind, like good old witch-burning crowds of days gone by…
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