Requiem For A Species: Why We Resist The Truth About Climate Change: Clive Hamilton
To Hamilton, the case is clear cut and the current growth of greenhouse gas emissions will lead to a catastrophic rise in global temperature. Indeed, he argues that even if governments had the political will to act promptly and resolutely – and radically restructured their economies and societies – it may still be too late. He quotes one analysis that claims the world is irreversibly headed for 2.4 degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial levels. At that degree of warming, we would lose the Arctic summer sea ice and see the melting of the Himalayan–Tibetan glaciers and of the Greenland ice sheet.
In an earlier book, Hamilton introduced the concept of our growth fetish. It is the developed (and now the developing) world’s addiction to consumption and to economic growth at any cost that has got us into this predicament, he argues. Ironically, says Hamilton, if we took stringent measures to stabilise greenhouse gases over the next 40 years to a level where we may have a chance to survive, then the cost to world GDP in 2050 would be 2%. Reducing atmospheric carbon will not inhibit economic growth; it is the only way to ensure it is sustained.
Hamilton is pessimistic about the world’s ability to introduce measures that would give us a chance; governments are compromised by the pressure of powerful interest groups, such as the coal industry, to emasculate their climate change policies. All political parties are compromised to a greater or lesser degree and the recent experience in Australian politics is a vivid example of this. Hamilton’s book is a sobering one; it will be dismissed as scaremongering by the interests that deny global warning and alarmist by others. If the science is right, then we have little or no time to act.
Hamilton provocatively concludes his book by calling on citizens to break laws that protect those who continue to pollute the atmosphere in a way that threatens our survival.