I'm pushing fifty, and for most of my life, the scientific/activist community has been sounding the gong of doom about what terrible ecological disaster is going to end life as we know it if we don't change our ways. It's the Book of Revelations, only with peer-reviewed footnotes, and they always speak with such emphatic desperation that they get large portions of the public to believe that the end is nigh.
Off the top of my head, I can list at least a dozen earth-shaking crises that dominated the news over the last half a century--and which no one talks about anymore. These were issues that were very real and present dangers in their day, that got legislators all excercised, got bullhorn-toting activists into the streets and parks, and got laws passed or changed..and then were promptly forgotten. I'm sure you guys can think of a few more to add to my list:
The spread of communism
The coming ice age
Oil crisis/peak oil/running out of fuel/energy crisis
The hole in the ozone
Save the whales
Those last two, of course, are still with us, and are the new apocalyptic prediction from the crisis factory. I could add "near-earth asteroids" which is a new one, but there's not much we can do to avoid something like that, and thus, no way to make any money off it by forcing people to change the way they live and behave.
Now, I'm not saying I'm not glad that there's less pollution in the world, or that whaling has largely ceased to be an issue. These are good things, and so good things do come from environmental activism.
What I'm getting at is that all of these other things were enormous problems in their day, problems that had people convinced that the annihilation of our civilization was right around the corner if immediate action wasn't taken. They had reams of facts and figures and statistics to back up their claims. This was, after all, science, not religion or fantasy--no skeletal horsemen or zombies need apply. The world was going to choke to death in its own fumes, or freeze under a glacier, or go up in radioactive smoke.
But it didn't. It didn't, and in a lot of ways, things got better. We're still hearing whimpers about famines and such, but that's more a matter of bad management; in the US we have an industry where food crops are raised strictly for ornamental purposes (And I just heard that jack-o-lanterns are being criticized for contributing to global warming. Sheesh.)
What brings on this rant? Well, I was watching a documentary on whales last night, and amid the fascinating facts being revealed about these secretive leviathans--did you know bowhead whales can live for two centuries?--there was the obligatory tag about how global warming was going to have an adverse effect of the krill that whales need to survive.
I was reminded of the hostage videos where some captive is forced at off-screen gunpoint to read a missive praising the terrorists who held him. The way these climate change warnings get added into every single science program produced in the last five or ten years is getting to be ridiculous. It almost seems like someone is saying "Okay, so we've stopped hunting whales, we've mitigated pollution, we've reduced deforestation, we're making national parks and preserves to save wildlife and promote tourism...but we need some crisis to keep people alert and aware. Let's hit them over the head with the evils of climate change!" Because of course complacent people become lazy people, and lazy people drown in a garbage dump of their own creation.
What offends me is that the global warming cabal is holding science hostage to its creed. They call skeptics "deniers," yet they don't seem the slightest bit interested in seeking an alternative theory to their anthropogenic global warming rant. No one will address why the ice caps on Mars are melting. Or suggest that the same solar wind that stripped away Mars' atmosphere might be causing changes in our own atmosphere--changes that might alter our climate.
No, in their litany, humans are bad, and humans caused this mess, so humans have to fix it. There's big business in tinkering with the planet--industries can be built and destroyed, fortunes can be made, as long as people believe they have some hand in our destiny. Asteroid impacts, naturally-ocurring fluctuations in the climate (like what caused the Ice Ages to come and go, for instance)--we can't do anything about these things, except maybe pray. But man-made climate change? Sure, we can fix that--just change your light bulbs, power your car with the wind, and wear a few extra sweaters instead of burning fossil fuels to heat your home. Mankind got by for thousands of years without air conditioning, automobiles, and electricity, so we should be able to do without them if the health of the planet is at stake, right?
After all, our computer models--oh, what's that? How can I run a computer without electricity? Well, I have this solar array...what? How did I build the solar array, since we've banned all factories and mining operations for being too polluting to the atmosphere? Well, um, ah...
I have the hope that I will live long enough to see "climate change/global warming" to be put on that list of "yesterday's crises." But I'm not sure I want to know what "tomorrow's crises" will be.