Naming It Like It Is

As we have struggled on this blog with the challenge of naming looming Armageddon without terrifying people into paralysis, UK press coverage of climate change seems to have crossed a tipping point this week.

The Sun has published an astonishingly forthright piece on the Age of Stupid’s movie scenarios for a rapidly warming earth, with the Sydney Opera House ablaze, the Alps denuded of snow, and London flooded.

A piece, albeit, commented upon by readers what appears to be a fairly standard ratio of about three-to-one head-in-the-sanders saying this is alarmist rubbish and a plot to squeeze out profits and push up taxes…

However, it’s been quite a week for UK media coverage.

George Monbiot argued on Friday that it’s time we stopped using the gentle term climate change for something that will be much, much more terrifying. He suggested climate breakdown. How about climate catastrophe?

Also on Friday the 13th, Lord Stern of the once cautious Stern report was quoted from the Copenhagen as warning that billions may become refugees as the whole areas of the planet become inhabitable.

The politicians, Stern says, just don’t yet realise how serious this is – and 2500 scientists behind him joined in an urgent, watershed call for a change in political understanding of the threat that faces us.

The Economist this week warns that sea levels are rising twice as fast as predicted – that is, as predicted in the fatally flawed lowest-common-denominator 2007 IPCC report.

And we also hear from Copenhagen that the rain forests are already seriously compromisedeven if emissions stop immediately. Which of course they won’t.

Prince Charles in Brazil was widely quoted as saying that at this “defining moment” in world history we have less than 100 months to stop the slide to catastrophe.

And yet, there’s such a long way to go.

On BBC Radio Four Any Questions last night from Northern Ireland, all four panelists, asked for their response to Prince Charles’s warnings, said they thought it was a bit alarmist, a bit OTT, one adding, what credentials does Prince Charles have anyway?

They included a Northern Ireland political commentator, the Editor of The Economist, the Chief Commissioner of the N Ireland Human Rights Commission and a Belfast Professor of Politics and Member of the House of Lords. Influential and intelligent people who clearly haven’t yet grasped the science of this.

Also, our old friend Bjorn Lomborg, leading climate change sceptic and a major force in recent years behind the Western media’s presentation of a supposedly objective balance of views, argued this week, at the same time, that global warming will also save lives.

But, Mary-Jayne, Viola and friends, our fears about naming the unnamable are increasingly, I think, misplaced. The collective unconscious is becoming rapidly conscious, and the tipping point to global alarm which I (and many others of course) have foreseen could now be rapidly approaching.

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