By Focusing on Global Warming as Public Enemy #1 We've Mistaken a Symptom for the Disease

In 1962 Racheal Carson's classic 'Silent Spring' was published. It argued that DDT was poisoning wildlife, the environment and endangering human health. The public's reaction to it launched the modern environmental movement. Eight years later in 1970, in honour of the first Earth Day, Pogo told us that he'd met our environment's enemy and that it was us.

The modern environmental movement was initiated in response to the disease of widespread environmental degradation being caused by humanity's over-consumption and wasting of the planet's limited resources. The modern environmental movement formed back then wasn't just about any one particular symptom but the underlying disease. Now, half a century later, that earlier focus of the debate on the disease is to often focused narrowly on the human induced climate change symptom.

By focusing on global warming as public enemy #1 we've fallen into the trap of mistaking a symptom for the disease. All types of environmental degradation are caused by human intervention into natural processes. The environmental movement must be about the disease of environmental degradation that is being caused by the over consumption of resources and the resulting pollution from the byproducts of the extractive culture supplying it.

The modern environmental movement must refocus its sights on human demand and the culture of consumer capitalism feeding it as well as the impossible endless growth fantasy necessary to fulfill that fantasy. This larger topic is being obscured by allowing our focus to be trapped by the narrow debate around the role of human CO2 production in global warming [AGW].

mr. mud wonders why it's happening? Is it because AGW is a simple subject? It isn't. Or is that obscuring the real issue of our demand driven over-consumption allows the wheels of consumer capitalism to keep rolling along? Or is it because a corporate owned and a sensationalism mad mass media saw how easily our attention could be captured by the hyperbolic headlines of impending catastrophic events being offered by AGW?

Somehow by some combination of these, and lottsa other factors, the fickle finger of public attention got funneled onto AGW. Climate science debates swirled around the water coolers, Al Gore's salesmanship of an overly simplified 'Inconvienentt Truth' won big awards with its stunning images and selective truths.

The real truth is that graphs can be as misleading as any other type of statistical information. The real truth is that carefully choosing the historic end points, the area where the data set was collected and the scale of sizes pictured, Micheal Mann, inventor of the controversial Hockey Stick Graph, was able to graphically tell the story he believed to be true. Inconveniently for Mann and Gore those non-believers, for whatever their reasons, immediately jumped up and down in indignation and whipped out their own graphs [like the one below of the last 800,000 years of the EPICA ice cores in Antarctica] that showed our long term temperature record has more hockey sticks than the Vancouver Canucks.

The hockey stick battle touched off the global warming war. Hyperbolic headlines from both encampments sold advertising space. There was, and still is, big money to be made from who wins the war but bigger yet is the money to be made by all those who profit from the long list of other environmentally disastrous insults our planet endures while we remain focused on the uncertain timing, causes and consequences AGW instead of seeing it as it is - one symptom of the disease of demand driven environmental degradation.