Is it fair to call climate denial a form of treason?

25 09 2012


Just the other day, the US Congress passed the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill. In political terms, it was something I never thought would happen in my lifetime…..

But it was hardly unanimous, 212 representatives voted no. Most of those who rejected the bill did so because they reject the whole idea that we, as in humanity, have to do something about greenhouse emissions.

All this denialism is, in my opinion, nothing short of a form of treason — treason against the planet.  Even treason against civilisation.

To appreciate the irresponsibility or immorality of climate-change denial, you need to realise what a grim turn has taken place in the latest climate research.


Fact is, the Earth is changing faster than even pessimists like me expected: ice caps are shrinking at an accelerating pace, and arid zones are spreading at a terrifying rate – who would ever have thought the Amazon could turn into a desert?  According to several recent studies, catastrophe — a rise in temperature so huge as to verge on the unthinkable — can no longer be considered just a possibility. Instead, such a catastrophe would be the most likely outcome if we do nothing to alter our present course.

Researchers at M.I.T., who were previously predicting a temperature rise of a little more than 2 degrees C by the end of this century, are now predicting a rise of nearly 5 degrees C. Why? Globally, greenhouse gas emissions are rising much faster than expected; mitigating factors, like absorption of CO2 by the oceans, are turning out to be far weaker than hoped; there’s also growing evidence that climate change is self-reinforcing — that rising temperatures will cause arctic tundra to thaw, releasing even more CO2 into our atmosphere……

Temperature increases such as predicted by M.I.T. researchers (and others) would disrupt our lives and, horror of horror, our economy. By the end of this century Tasmania may well have the climate of Northern NSW!  Across the country extreme (and deadly) heat waves — the kind that historically occur only once in a generation — could become annual or worse. How can anyone justify failing to act?

Dissenting opinion-makers and politicians, one would hope, base their dissent on hard work and hard thinking — and if they had studied the issue properly, consulted with appropriate experts and then concluded that the overwhelming scientific opinion was misguided — they could at least claim to be acting responsibly.  But these people show no sign of being interested in the truth. They don’t like the political and policy implications of AGW, so they’ve decided to not believe in it — and they’ll use any argument, no matter how disreputable the source, to feed their denial.

In the US, Representative Paul Broun of Georgia apparently said while arguing against passing the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill that climate change is nothing but a “hoax”.  “Perpetrated out of the scientific community.” A crazy conspiracy theory, and by now you all know what I think of such conspiracies….  To believe that global warming is a hoax, you have to justify an enormous cabal consisting of thousands of scientists — one so powerful, it has managed to create false records on everything from global temperatures to Arctic sea ice shrinkage….

Yet Mr. Broun’s declaration was met with applause, I read in the New York Times….  and we have plenty of such deniers in our midst, not least Queensland’s new Moron in Chief, Campbell Newman….

Is it fair to call climate denial a form of treason?  Yes, it is — and that’s why it’s unforgivable.

Yet politicians like Newman are choosing, wilfully, to ignore that threat, placing future generations in grave danger, simply because it’s in their political interest to pretend that there’s nothing to worry about. If that’s not betrayal, I don’t know what is.

Come the day Climate Change becomes so obviously a catastrophe for everyone, will those responsible for disallowing change at every turn be tried for treason, in Nuremberg style trials?  There may well be a lot of angry people baying for blood when the environment we rely on for survival all goes pear shaped.