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Thursday, 10 December 2009

Climate change - real and pressing

I find much of the debate on the issue of climate change positively surreal. For many people in the world the issue is not academic it is real and pressing in on their ability to sustain a reasonable existence for themselves and envisage a possible future for their children. From Nepal to Bangladesh the impacts already being felt of climate change by some of the most vulnerable and powerless people on the planet. These are our brothers and sisters who share our humanity.

People in our neighbourhood, representatives from Timor Leste, Indonesia, Vanuata, the Solomons whom I spoke to at a conference recently all reported noticeable changes in climate patterns over the past few years that are impacting unfavourably on the ability of people who are dependent upon subsistence farming in those countries to manage food production.

Is human action responsible for global warming? The best estimate that can be made based on the cumulative evidence of a wide variety of research over the past twenty years is that there is 90% probability that it is. That is a solid enough probability as a basis for action now. We pay insurance to cover ourselves for goodness sake against much smaller levels of risk to our homes without blinking an eyelid.

Under those circumstance the quibbling that is going on here in Australia where almost any excuse apparently will do to avoid dealing with the issue, starts to take on the character of myopic self indulgence.

Jesus in the Gospels had some scathing things to say about the attitude that generates moral blindness. "You can" he observed "tell what the weather will be like by looking at the sky. but you don't understand what is happening now. You want a sign, because you are evil and won't believe. But the only sign you will be given is the sign of Jonah". (Perhaps the plant under which he was sheltering that withered and died?)

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