Monday, 26 August 2013

Denying the obvious

Some years ago, a young woman I knew was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was a horrible prognosis because she had sat on the knowledge she had a lump and not got medical treatment soon enough. Although she faced up to her fate with calm bravery, all her friends were frustrated at the delay she had given herself before she went to see her doctor. That time was crucial. It might have saved her life had she gone to seek treatment or at least a proper diagnosis sooner.

She was frightened at what she might find out. To be honest, so would I be. Cancer is not a light, happy diagnosis. It is a terrifying one and although modern medicine is fantastic and keeps cancer patients alive and in better health for much long, there is always the chance that it is cancer that will claim the patient in the end. My day's oncologist told me that if you are unlucky to have a prediction for cancer, you are likely to keep developing cancers the longer you live.

There is no benefit in being in cancer denial.

Reality gets in the way. Sooner or later the truth finds you out.  The same is true of climate change. It is somehow comforting to be told that there is no problem, and even if there is one it isn't bad, and even if it is bad it won't be as bad as a thousand years ago and even if it is that bad the dinosaurs.... You get the picture.

Bad news is news. Good news usually isn't, not in the press anyway. A few years back, when the Met Office made a comment in a press release about a barbecue summer coming up, it only became news when the weather turned bad. This summer was quite a hot one where I was in the UK. But several days of warm weather in June are still not news. A heat wave is because such weather is dangerous. People do die at a higher rate in heat waves than in averagely warm weather.  The same applies to cold weather. Cold snaps are more lethal than a chilly spell.  Mild weather is no headline grabber.

To link the two. Climate denial websites choose their news and present it in the way they want in order to have the biggest impact with their readership. We can tell how closely the readership actually reads what is written by checking the number of comments that are devoid of, er, comment. Just saying "Good post" isn't really much information, is it? By trying to avoid mention of the heat wave that covered much of Europe this summer, sites like WUWT are missing the point - hot weather is increasingly common and increasingly extreme. I remember the UK summer of 1976 which is the one that is always mentioned. Hardly anyone seems to recall 1983 which was hotter. Let's not bring u those inconvenient facts because they might threaten our case. Deniers bury their heads in the sand. Eventually the reality of climate change, so far so gradual, will become so obvious that even the deniers, those still alive because plenty are advancing in years, will be unable to avoid agreeing that it is happening.

I shall nail my point home. Cancer and climate change are gradual processes. They begin slowly and imperceptibly. But events accelerate. Lumps get bigger and spread. The surface temperature is increasing and will continue to do so, even if such radical action is taken to stop all human releases of carbon dioxide now. If those thin skinner deniers want to complain that I have compared them to people who deny they have cancer then so what.  As their odious and bellicose champion in the blogs section of the Daily Telegraph, James Delingpole, should know, this writing trick (oh, the Mann made comments to come) is one that so many great essayists have used, I feel compelled to, ever so humbly, copy.

If you do stumble upon his blog and are skeptical of climate change, please educate yourself with a bit of reading of my blog roll links. You will learn something and you will become a wiser person as a result. Don't stick your head in the sand and hope the problem goes away. It won't and it will probably get worse.

No comments:

Post a Comment