Clive Hamilton on why we are all climate change deniers
This article was published in Living Ethics: issue 82 summer 2010
Clive Hamilton gave us a rather chilling exposé on both the grim realities of expected levels of global warming and its associated environmental impact, and our political and social response to it.
Extrapolating known scientific data paints a picture of increased risk to unique and threatened systems and weather events, resulting in negative impact on our lifestyle, to the point where our very existence is severely compromised.
Yet, one of the biggest challenges facing our society today is to bridge the gap between what our climate scientists are telling us what is happening and what will happen, and our current political and social response to it.
Given this implicit warning, why do our governments remain in such a state of inertia? Is it simply the human condition to let things be until the effects are overwhelming? Hamilton suggests not. He spoke of the rise of the ‘denialists’, a political force responsible for meticulously planned campaigns such as that employed by the tobacco lobby, to undermine efforts to educate our society about this very real threat.
Referring to Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conways’ book Merchants of Doubt and citing examples such as President George Bush’s farewell statement to world leaders attending the G8 Summit to address pollution: “Goodbye from the world’s biggest polluter.” Hamilton illustrated how these ultra-conservatives in both Australia and the United States have infiltrated the political right to attack and discredit our society’s scientific body, casting doubt and superstition on the very people we have entrusted to sustain mankind into the future.
Clive Hamilton is an Australian author and public intellectual. See www.clivehamilton.net.au.