In recent weeks, Greta Thunberg has exploded on to the public stage like a modern Joan of Arc.
Who is Greta Thunberg?
A 16-year-old schoolgirl. Has she conducted original research into factors impinging on climate?
No, but she sailed across the Atlantic in a yacht costing $4m in order to reduce her carbon footprint.
One suspects, on the basis of normal airline statistics, that there were hundreds of vacant seats on transatlantic flights while Greta was battling with wind and wave.
Presumably, those who sponsored her sea voyage would have known that.
Oh I forgot, a teenage girl flying on a stand-by seat would not gain much by way of publicity. Mind you, her carbon footprint would have been considerably less had she flown.
Arrived in New York, Greta gave an impassioned speech to the UN in the course of which she said: “People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing, we are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and the fairytale of endless economic growth. How dare you?”
Her speech got global media coverage. Greta is in a state of panic and she wants all her peers to panic too.
I sincerely hope that all of this pressure and worry will not damage her psychologically.
Professor Richard Lindzen, an American atmospheric physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has spent 30 years studying climate and sees no cause for panic. In his view, climate has been changing ever since there was a climate to change and what is happening now has all happened many times before.
Nils-Axel Mörner is the former head of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics department at Stockholm University. Having conducted voluminous research on changes in sea levels, he had this to say: “All handling by the IPCC of the sea level questions have been done in a way that cannot be accepted and that certainly does not concur with modern knowledge of the mode and mechanism of sea level changes.”
He worked for the IPCC until it emerged that his findings did not support their agenda.
Is it not puzzling that serious scientists who deal in facts do not receive a fraction of the attention given to those who promote unsubstantiated emotional claims? Not really.
It is well recognised by psychologists that emotion is a more powerful motivating factor than are scientific facts.
In philosophic terms man is described as a “Rational Animal”.
In the current environment, might it not be deemed more appropriate to change the appellation to “Irrational Animal?
This reader's opinion was originally published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner print edition on 28 September, 2019.