Western Antarctic ice sheet collapse – good news for climate change deniers and bad parents.

Most of the electorate in our globally oppressive, quasi-democratic hegemony are not scientists and so find out about environmental issues through some form of news media. This, of course, means that a certain amount of opining and political agenda is applied, leading to a situation where, if you’ve chosen the wrong organ of news, your hot dog is all mustard and no wiener.

Glass half-fullers might choose the media prominence of reports (I offer exhibits A and B from the Grauniad and New York Times) that half of the Antarctic has gone the way of the ice in my gin and tonic (no longer half full) and soon rising tides will carry a giant slice of lime across the Polders. (the conflation of themes here is either a clumsy comedic gambit or an argument for drinking gin from smaller receptacles. You be the judge)

The more right wing the organ, the likelier you will be to find backlash to the climate change argument; I daren’t wade into the Daily Hatemail, however morbid my curiosity. Pre-emptively girding loins, the inveigled and inclined might be wont to go to the source, to see how comprehensively even the well-meaning press might have mangled the facts. Google brings the world’s scientific reviews into your living room – a difficult read, so it’s fortunate that NASA have produced a primer for your edification.

Thus, quiver full of facts, one might feel ready to take the collapse of the ice sheet and argue that this is a bad day for climate deniers, the legs for their already shaky arguments are being kicked away.

It has been observed, however, that facts do not win arguments. Look at Daniel Kahneman’s excellent and influential “Thinking Fast and Slow” for an insight into how your mind is actually made up.

The problem with climate change is that we’re being bad parents about it. If you’re a good parent and you have some precious and beautiful things in your house that you don’t want trashed, you know that you have to be clear, consistent and fair about it. You set a clear warning that the guitar on the stand is not to be touched, that football is not to be played indoors, that things are not thrown near the flat screen TV, the Ming vase (given to you by Max von Sydow) or the Faberge egg and you describe the associated sanctions in graphic and forbidding terms.

One day, of course, your kids will forget, get a little rambunctious and a vase or a plate will pay the price. If your kids are well brought up they will know they’re in trouble. They will own up and apologise and, if you really know your stuff you will, lovingly and gently, punish them in exactly the way that you described.

Because if you don’t, you undermine your authority and your kids are given carte blanche to hold an all-comers’ paintball tourney in the front parlour.

And this is how we should hold our politicians to account. If this piece of evidence that we’re fucking the climate comes to pass, then we have to make sure that there’s hell to pay. And we haven’t. Each time the rules are broken, each time that we don’t meet the targets for a protocol, punishment should be meted out. And because it isn’t, our little politician children have grown up to be sociopaths and it’s only a matter of time before we get home from work one day and the beautiful, precious place that we live is irredeemably trashed.

We’re holding our leaders to lower standards than we do five year old children. Are we surprised that they’re trashing the place?

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