Saturday, April 3, 2010

James Lovelock puts it bluntly

There's an interview with James Lovelock, inventor of the Gaia hypothesis and the person who detected CFCs in the atmosphere which lead to the realisation of the dangers posed by their breakdown destroying the ozone layer, on the BBC — you can listen to it here. Jim's not running for office or trying to impress the girls (or anyone else for that matter): he's a very old man but a very intelligent one, who feels the urge to say what he thinks. I think what he says is pretty close to the mark.

What can we — should we — do about global warming? Jim's message is enjoy your life while you can, because the die has been cast, the trigger pulled, and we are faced with the consequences of global warming rather than the choice of avoiding global warming or not.

Jim sees the situation from a scientists point of view and also from a realists point of view. And he sees the inertia of our social system: the impossibility of rapidly changing the behaviour of the millions who depend on present arrangements for their survival. It will take a generation to change these arrangements.

This leads on to my thoughts. There are some who would not give a damn about the survival of anyone but themselves, and would be happy to support some political movement which hastened the coming depopulation of the world, if it was to result in the deaths of the billions who these supporters of a Party of Cruelty would deem inferior types, leaving more room for themselves and their supporters. How long could it take such a party to achieve real power? J K Galbraith, author of a wonderful book about the last big economic disaster of modern history, The Great Crash, 1929, said that great social disasters inoculate their survivors against a repetition until the memory of the trauma fades, which he thought takes about eighty years after a major event. So we can expect a successor to the Nazis to emerge some time around 2013-2015 if we are to time it from their accession to power in Germany in 1933.

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