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Sunday 13 December 2009

Global Warning

"I think all this global warming stuff is complete and utter nonsense. It's just a conspiracy put about to frighten the masses, keep them in their place", said my dear friend, Mr X, in all earnestness. Well I don't feel qualified to back up claims that we may well drive ourselves into extinction with our careless use of the world's resources and the invention of man-made pollutants. I'll leave that to British scientist Jim Lovelock, father of the Gaia theory.

Throughout his career, Lovelock has come up against scepticism, reluctance, disagreement and general disbelief. And yet there were plenty of people who believed in the Y2K millennium bug that was supposed to wreak havoc on systems all over the world. Everyone waited, with bated breath, while the clocks chimed in the New Year and nothing happened! Millions believe in a god, or set of gods without ever having come across one or even having the tiniest proof that such immortals exist. And yet, when it's right in front of our eyes we seem to have a problem understanding why the ice caps are melting at an alarming rate, or grappling with the awesome changes in weather conditions, and many look the other way rather than face the quite large hole in the ozone layer which is a mere 24 million km2.

No, I'll leave all that to James Lovelock who established the Gaia theory now recognised as a useful way to understand the dramatic changes happening to the environment of the Earth. The Vanishing Face of Gaia is his final word (he is, after all, approaching his 90th birthday) on the terrifying environmental problems we will inevitably have to confront. He tells us that the earth as we know it is vanishing and it is moving inexorably to a new, hot state. The idea that we can "save the planet" by reducing carbon emissions is, according to Lovelock, nothing but a sales pitch. The earth, as it always has done, will save itself. It is up to us to save the human race.

With my limited scientific knowledge I do take most of my information on the state of our world on trust from respected experts who have no reason to pull the wool over my eyes. There are some things, however, I can make my own mind up and having had two down-to-earth parents who instilled certain values, I live my life in such a way as to keep my carbon footprint to a minimum. "Waste not want not", as my mother used to say and my father would chime in with, "Moderation in all things". If you take both those maxims to heart, you won't go far wrong.

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