Is manmade climate change something we need to worry about or is it an overblown myth? We only have one livable planet to pass onto our children and yet so many of us feel we are expert enough around the field of climate and environmental science to refute what the vast majority of the real scientists are telling us. It is a head-in-the-sand attitude and arguably a reckless one. Thus we see the rise of the armchair climatologist.
That the world’s climate is changing is irrefutable. There is also an overwhelming scientific consensus that the changes are linked to global greenhouse gas emissions that result from human activity, particularly from the use of fossil fuels.
Bill Gething, from Design for future climate
Opportunities for adaptation in the built environment, June 2010
There can always be a smidgen of doubt about man-made climate change, a bit like the conspiracy theory suggesting man didn’t land on the moon in 1969, and it is that tiny raft of doubt that the sceptics cling to. For those desperate not to have to curb their consumption heavy lifestyles, the climate change sceptics are like heroes; loan voices that speak out bravely against a huge tide of gloomy environmental forecasts. It is the argument they want to hear and all of a sudden they are an armchair climatologist; assured enough in their mantra to lambast the need for things like wind farms, kerbing their use of cars and energy efficiency in the built environment.
As the preeminent species on the planet we ought to recognize a responsibility to be good custodians of what we consider our dominion. There are enough of us around calling for a global consciousness of our unsustainable development and how it should be redirected. One gets the sense though that most people on this Earth are working on instinct either unable to have that awareness or not wishing to accept it. Our news is full these days of those trying to make ends meet or even just survive. You can forgive them for putting such awareness to one side when they have very immediate and overwhelming concerns. Being so disempowered, it is hard too for those of little means or voice to do something requiring such enormous reorganisation of the social-economic norm. But you can see instinct at work and suppressing a global environmental awareness in cultures of affluence as well. Here in the west it is all about overstimulated consumption where commercial energies exploit the consumer’s in-built desires for self-satisfaction and social pre-eminence.
The trouble is with our self-satisfied head-in-the-sand approach is that ecological responsibility gets past to the next generation to deal with only their sacrifices will be far greater than if we take the necessary action now.
Ian McKay Dip Arch RIBA