This is chapter 18 from Climate Change for Football Fans. On whether disasters will change our views on climate change.
Why it’s no use hoping for disasters.
“What about disasters?” I asked after we’d thought about that. “Won’t disasters change the mood of the people, and let us take more drastic action?” The Professor had dropped his digestive into his tea and was using his finger to retrieve the bits. “Disasters are very interesting,” he said, “but before they work in our favour, they have to meet a number of conditions. An oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico won’t persuade us to use the bus.
“First they need to be close to home. It’s no use a million Bangladeshis drowning in floods. It’s too far away.
“Then, people have to see that the disaster was caused by the problem in question. It doesn’t help us if everyone thinks it was caused by sun spots or bad hygiene or poor safety regulations. Scientists will have to get a lot better before disasters will work.
“Then, there’s the problem of forgetting. As the memory fades, we forget the lesson. So you want disasters to be repeated from time to time, lest we forget.”
“It’s hard to think of something like this. Unless you’re anAccringtonfan. Their disasters are repeated week in, week out,” said Joe.
“And that is not enough either,” continued the Professor. “The disasters should be repeated, but they should not be predictable. If they’re predictable, then we will start to adapt to the rhythm of disaster rather than fight its cause. And it needs to be severe enough for us to wish to avoid it in the future, but not so bad that we slump into defeatism.”
Joe agreed. “Right, look at the crowd sizes atAccrington. They have given up hope.”
“I can’t think of any series of natural disasters which would meet these conditions,” I mused. “Could huge blobs of methane hydrate be released from the sea at unpredictable moments, float overWashington, and go on fire just as they arrive?”
“Don’t confuse God with Terry Gilliam,” said Igor. “The probability of this is even smaller than that of Burnley winning every game. We can’t rely on angry nature to make us see sense.”
This dark note left us in a sombre mood. It even put the defeat at Hull into perspective.