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George Marshall : The Dying of the Light

In the orange light-filled advertising corner : the oil and gas companies proclaiming new, untold riches beneath the melting Arctic. Technology will make us stronger, less polluting and improve the lives of the countless poor.

In the blue chain-smoking activist corner : Climate Change and Peak Oil are really, really serious, destabilising and horrible and we should all get depressed and go and lie down in a darkened room for a while.

On the other hand, most people don’t fall in one camp or the other. We worry about Climate Change some days, but we’re too pre-occupied with trivia on other days.

We have a natural in-built “happy button”, according to recent research mentioned in New Scientist magazine, so we can’t sustain feelings of doom and gloom for too long unless we’re clinically unwell :-

We’re born to be sunny, optimistic (Teddy Miliband’s favourite word) and relaxed, only reserving adrenalin and noradrenalin for times of stress.

So why does George Marshall try to convince us that everyone is dangerously susceptible to “apocalyptic” language ?

People can cope with being given bad news as long as they have some strategy with which to combat the problem.

It’s not wrong to tell people the truth about Climate Change just in case they get scared and worried.

Alarm is a good thing – I’d rather a fellow pedestrian shouted at me to “look out !” if I’m about to be mown down by a car as I cross the street, rather than just watching on and wincing at the crunch moment.

George is telling us to be careful about our choice of language as activists, and warns of “false panics like Y2K”, but I think that one can be overly introspective about tone and fail to paint the larger narrative.

And anyway, raising the alarm produces action, as he himself mentions, and action actually changes things, averts disaster, mitigates against chaos.

“…there is overwhelming evidence that even when people do face problems they are far more likely to work together and seek collective solutions than to panic and riot…”

There is a problem with Climate Change communication – many people are still at the stage of describing the problems in order to engage an unconscious audience. This kind of activity almost invariably fails to move on to the solutions part of the narrative, and leaves people in a Lovelockian down state of mind.

Some Climate Change activists go to the other extreme and become all bubbly about the joys of Carbon Rationing austerity or going for a year without a shower, things like that.

I must admit, I do this from time to time. But I don’t leave the audience without the solutions, the real solutions. Going without electricity and meat isn’t going to solve Climate Change. But radical changes in the ways the whole Society acquires and uses energy and other resources is going to solve Climate Change. And this process has already begun.

We can avert Climate Change. We already have the tools. Now we need to build the narrative from problem to solution, instead of getting stuck in the problem phase.

As soon as the timeline of problem, reflection, discovery, action, solution is complete, people will buy in.

Here’s my answer to George Marshall :-


I think you paint a picture of polarised human reaction that is not backed up by evidence.

People don’t all go and hide in caves or pretend they don’t care. People have shades of opinion.

Plus, I think that you are being too dismissive of the facts.

As a computer programmer, I can reliably inform you that Y2K was not a “false panic”. Thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of people like myself spent months correcting computer software to prevent massive turmoil in banking and retail systems on 1st January 2000.

If you correctly inform people of the risks, in a balanced, nuanced way, you can get coordinated reaction that can prevent a crisis.

For example, the swine flu pandemic, which has still not officially ended, was very well-managed.

Many people claim that it was hyped out of all proportion, perhaps by the pharmaceutical companies wanting to up their sales, but that is just not a watertight argument.

Influenza mutates and migrates, and swine flu is still a risk for this winter, which is why the swine flu vaccine will apparently be given with the normal winter flu jab that vulnerable and elderly people receive :-

Why is this being done ? Have a look at how the virus is still prevalent – apparently, according to some sources, holding a stronghold position in recently flood-destroyed Pakistan, from where it could explode on the world stage again :-

I consider Michael Ruppert to be a self-serving “Free Speech” fantasist who has jumped on the Peak Oil bandwagon, and creating problems of access to this subject area by being so conspiracist.

I have read quite a few reports on fossil fuel resources and there is considerable cause for concern in my view, as to the continued ability of energy engineers to continue to be able to safely and cheaply produce oil and gas, and even coal.

Ruppert is just getting in the way of the public finding out what is going on. Is he creating a diversion on purpose ? Just whose stooge could he be ? I’d recommend everyone to avoid him and go read the university research reports on Peak Copper, Peak Phosphorus, Peak Petroleum, Peak Uranium and Peak Coal.

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