Yet another of the great problems of our time was recently put before that consummate cogitator, Sir Bertram Utterside, former professor of social studies at one of Britain’s most prestigious universities. On this occasion, he was asked to address the intertwining subjects of global warming and carbon dioxide levels. He has dealt with several weighty issues, offering solutions which, though perhaps intellectually incontestable, have usually been controversial. As ever, his report was eagerly awaited. It is given below, in his typically mordant prose:
I was quite pleased to be charged with this task, as it is one of the few worthy of my attention. When the matter was referred to me, I felt obligated to interrupt a sojourn at my local abattoir, where I was attempting to confirm the correctness of my conversion to vegetarianism, which took place some time ago. I will not expand on this, beyond saying that there will be no more Sir Loin for Sir Bertram – a little pun for those who maintain that I have no sense of humour.
We are currently bombarded with information concerning the allegedly intolerable consequences of our actions. Rubbish! This stuff comes a bunch of cry-babies who always purport to know what is wrong, but are never able to tell us what is right. It has been noted that the carbon dioxide content of our air has risen from 280 to 380 parts per million (ppm) over the last century and a half, and that we cannot survive a level of more than 450ppm. I accept the figures, but the conclusion is nonsense. Over the ages, we have made great progress and have changed as required. Why should we not continue to do so? Those who think that we are Nature’s last word will find no comfort here.
There is no reason why we should not adapt as circumstances demand. When all is said and done, we are not well fitted to our current environment. If you doubt this, take off your clothes and go outside every day for a while. Most of you will soon find that a temperature outside the range of about 15 to 35 degrees Celsius will leave you feeling uncomfortable.
The late great Carl Sagan suggested that we could make the planet Venus habitable by shooting into its atmosphere a mass of blue-green algae, which have a high tolerance of temperature variations. His idea was that these organisms would, by consuming Co2, cool the surface of our next-door planet from its present hell-hole state to something more acceptable to us. We need not go all the way, but could reduce the heat on Venus while coping with some warming of the Earth, thus gradually getting the two bodies into thermal equilibrium and paving the way for us to colonise our neighbour. For those not familiar with the concept, the Venusian operation is called terraforming.
As for the supposedly impending cessation of the Gulf Stream which keeps us in the North passably warm in winter, this should be good news for the worriers. If they are ever pleased by anything, they should rejoice at the prospect of the North Atlantic Drift switching off, since that event will cool us at the same time as human activity does the opposite, the overall effect being neutral.
I must mention atomic energy, as its use is a factor in terms of air quality. If we manage to produce nuclear fusion on a commercial scale, we shall have power with very little pollution. If we fail in that area, fission will remain available. Let me note here that the doomsayers among us are exaggerating the problem of waste from current atomic power generation. If we do not find a way to neutralise the nasties, we shall develop better rocket propulsion, which will enable us to bundle up anything we don’t want and shoot it at the Sun, which will swallow it without any trace of indigestion. After all, our star is a colossal nuclear reactor, at present shedding mass at the rate of four million tonnes a second. It will simply recycle our garbage.
Finally, I would say that none of the above points matters much because any millennium now there will be another great freeze which will bury most of Europe, including the UK, under a vast sheet of ice. I recommend that you do not start reading any long books – another witticism for the people who say that I cannot see the funny side of things. That is all.
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