Sustainability |

Is It Really All Doom and Gloom on the Climate Front?

SUSTAINABILITY | 27 August 2021

“I really liked a recent article in Jakarta Post by Bjorn Lomborg, President of Copenhagen Consensus who argued very logically that we are not really being shown the “big picture” by the UN Scientists whose ‘Code Red’ pronouncements have led to many a pounding heart and worldwide panic attacks”, says Alistair Speirs, Chairman of MVB Sustainability Advocacy and publisher of Now! Magazines .


While he says that the report is serious and sensible, it doesn’t really surprise since we have heard most of the compiled reports before, and focuses entirely on the negative side of the equation, as indeed it was supposed to, but he claims it is ignoring a genuine ‘other side of the coin’.


He starts off by acknowledging that global warming is real but that means the frequency and intensity of cold extremes have decreased, which has resulted in fewer deaths from cold, in fact the decrease is more than the increased deaths from heat, meaning a ‘net positive’ effect’ for global warming, i.e. overall, less people dying.


He also notes that while flooding may be caused by climate change, there is, so far, no direct evidence. So untick that box. For now…


I was intrigued by his proposal that more CO2 in the atmosphere acts as a ‘fertiliser’ and increases global greening across the planet. This is a theory I had not read before and if his assertion that an area two times the size of Australia had been ‘greened’ by this increased CO2, over the last 35 years, then we are looking at a possible reversal of the deforestation that has caused the increase in CO2!


Is it possible that as my old physics teacher taught me: “to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”? If so Mother Nature’s anti-bodies may be kicking in out of sight of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the scientists who made the UN report.


Lomborg reminds us that 50 years ago the then UN Environment Director claimed we had only 10 years left before disaster stuck, and just back in 2007, the then head of IPCC said we had only 7 years left. Both of these “doomsday scenarios” fortunately failed to materialize, so is the current insistence on a necessity to act in a “couple of months” by UN Sec-Gen Guterres, real or just more scare-mongering to push the sustainability agenda along?


To be honest I am very much in favour of hard and decisive action on sustainability and the control of pollution and the reduction of - no sorry - the complete banning of all forest and natural land destruction, but I don’t, like Lomborg, subscribe to these doomsday scenarios unless  they are only designed to urge real action.


We do have major problems caused by uncontrolled industrial development and the insistence by China on continuing to develop coal based on industries and power plants is itself reason to scare the world into action, but let’s keep the reactions in proportion and always report both sides of the argument before insisting on drastic and immediate action.


People do die from preventable disasters: landslides caused by deforested hill sides, lung damage from polluted air, rivers clogged and polluted by industrial and household waste etc etc. so we do definitely need decisive action, but let’s perhaps make that “Code Orange” not yet “Code Red” and let Mother Nature take some credit for having some rebalancing tricks up her sleeve.