I am probably going to be categorised as a 'climate change denier' - a phrase redolent of religious fanaticism - so let's get that out of the way to start with. Climate change is real - indeed changeability is surely one of the defining characteristics of the climate. It's almost as warm now as it was a thousand years ago, and three hundred years ago it was much colder. The question has never been whether the climate is changing, but rather to what extent, if any, human agency has an effect on the direction and magnitude of the change. Here, I am somewhat sceptical. Humans have always overestimated their importance and failed to grasp just how mind-bogglingly big the earth is. I'm fairly sure that the anthropogenic element in any warming is relatively minor, and that the vast majority of it is caused by natural factors outwith (if you will forgive the Scotticism) human control.
What does interest me though, is the unabated enthusiasm a significant proportion of the human race seems to have for doomsday scenarios
. Why do they find the prospect of death on an inconceivable scale so appealing? What is the attraction in seeing yourself as part of the last generation of the human race? Or is it (in their imaginations) only others that do the dying, while they emerge from the disaster either translated to a higher plane
, or as the inheritors of a new (and somewhat emptier) planet? We have, of course, as a species been here many times before
. The difference being that in the past it was difficult to reach substantial numbers of willing believers with your message of doom. In the past half century this has become increasingly easy. I suspect that this alone is sufficient to explain the growth from the 1960s onwards of groups predicting (always, for nothing really changes, wrongly) imminent catastrophe, whether from overpopulation, resource depletion, pollution, or - as now - climate change. While the imputed cause may change, the message is always the same: mankind is sinful and must be punished. Only the sins have changed to match our secular age from religious malfeasance to crimes against nature.
Yet as protestors gather for a rally under the banner of 'Stop climate chaos
', I want to issue a, probably forlorn, plea to them to look inside their minds and ask themselves why they are so filled with enthusiasm, why their faces glow with the light of fanaticism at the thought, or rather the conviction, that humanity faces a catastrophe.
It seems that for many, this end is not to be feared, but rather embraced - they simply cannot wait for the promised catastrophe and the billions of deaths that will ensue. Mere change is not enough - it must be the end of the world.
They defend their errors as if they were defending their inheritance.