The Guardian's science editor believes in Global Warming but is worried that it is being used to regulate every conceivable behavior. "After decades of waiting, the green movement has found the cause of its dreams: a crisis that gives them carte blanche, they believe, to rule our lives." He goes on to write:
Consider emission controls. This is now assumed to be as much an issue of individual responsibility as of international negotiation. Petrol-guzzling 4x4s must be taxed, foreign holidays discouraged, TVs unplugged and lavatories left unflushed. After decades of waiting, the green movement has found the cause of its dreams: a crisis that gives them carte blanche, they believe, to rule our lives.
Hairshirts are being knitted and the self-righteous are gathering. The Observer's travel desk already gets hate mail merely for highlighting interesting destinations that might seem to encourage carbon-producing air travel. No wonder those poor old deniers cringe. ...
Indeed, if one looks at the world's last great ecological scare, the dwindling of our protective ozone layer, it is intriguing to see how we dealt with a threat that seemed as apocalyptic then as climate change does today. Ozone depletion, caused by CFC chemicals used in fridges and deodorants, was not contained through individual sacrifice. We were not asked to sell our Hotpoint freezers or go smelly to the office. Governments and industries agreed to replace CFCs with safe substitutes. So there was no need for an army of self-appointed greenies to sniff our armpits to check if they were suspiciously non-malodorous. The crisis was contained at an industrial, not a consumer, level, as it should be with greenhouse gases.
It's interesting to note that even the Guardian's science editor is alarmed at the excesses of "environmentalists" But really why is "lifestyle control" going too far if Global Warming is, as the Greenies claim, a greater threat than terrorism? Don't we already submit to body searches when traveling? Liquids are now banned from aircraft cabins; our shoes are poked and x-rayed; our baggage and persons examined for explosive residue. The discovery that mini-grenades can be concealed in body cavities suggests what the next development will be. Looking forward to your next trip? So if Global Warming is a greater threat than terrorism why is it unreasonable to call for "lifestyle control"? Maybe because Global Warming models aren't precise enough to let us correlate any particular behavior with a climactic outcome. Maybe because there exists no reliable correlation between say taking a foreign holiday and any predictable climate change. Maybe because the Global Warming model isn't reliable enough to allow us to make any rigorous prediction about human behavior and weather. Then it would make sense to reject "lifestyle control" because we have no idea what such lifestyle control would actually achieve.
Consider what would happen if all tourists were stopped from traveling to Bali. The Balinese economy would probably nosedive. The Balinese Hindus, already a minority in a predominantly Muslim country, might experience monumental unemployment and be marginalized. Be forced to resort to slash and burn farming in the countryside. And what would be the net effect on the Gaian climate? What exactly? I don't know. Nor, I suspect, does anyone else.
The reason why the "last ecological scare" (his term not mine) did not lead to restrictions on bathing is not that science proved the "depletion of the ozone layer" a lesser threat than "global warming". It probably has no quantitative way of ranking either of these two threats comparatively. If the ozone layer scare did not create "lifestyle control" it was only because the Greens failed to reach the heights of hysteria which they have managed to whip up this time.
How about this for a proposition: resolved that the threats to the world can be ranked in this way. The Environmental Hysteria Movement, Islamic Terrorism, Ozone Depletion and Global Warming. Readers may disagree on the ranking. But the question is, on what basis would one disagree? How can one prove that Environmental Hysteria is less dangerous than Islamic Terrorism or vice versa? And we if can't prove the ranking then QED.