A recent paper by the biologist Janis L Dickinson, published in the journal Ecology and Society, proposes that constant news and discussion about global warming makes it difficult to repress thoughts of death, and that people might respond to the terrifying prospect of climate breakdown in ways that strengthen their character armour but diminish our chances of survival. There is already experimental evidence that some people respond to reminders of death by increasing consumption. Dickinson proposes that growing evidence of climate change might boost this tendency, as well as raising antagonism towards scientists and environmentalists. Our message, after all, presents a lethal threat to the central immortality project of western society: perpetual economic growth, supported by an ideology of entitlement and exceptionalism...[Jeez]
And could it be that the rapid growth of climate change denial over the last two years is actually a response to the hardening of scientific evidence? If so, how the hell do we confront it?
Perhaps by not pursuing bizarre ad hominem attacks, on a group basis, of sceptics who happen to be in their sixties and seventies, such as Clive James (I can't be bothered to explain the tortured logic)? Perhaps by not using language such as this in the first paragraph: "Climate change denial is spreading like a contagious disease." And we know what we should do with disease, and perhaps on occasion, its carriers, don't we?
Having looked at the evidence and thought about it quite a bit, I do believe, albeit without the enthusiasm shown by others, that man-made global warming does exist. However, neither I nor anyone else knows with any certainty how dangerous it's going to be. And given I keep hearing the shout "burn them! burn them!" whenever I read pieces like this by people like George Monbiot, I'm deeply sceptical that their proposed cure is going to prove any more palatable than the potential affliction. Yes, I suppose I must have succumbed to the full-blown Paradoxical Response.