Teach your children well

Compared to what there has already been in the past, there is no threat to the planet from burning fossil fuels, no pollution from CO2, no perceptibly rising sea-levels, no burning of the planet to a cinder in the next 25 billion years, no oil reserves running out, no more or less retreating glaciers, no longterm changing of the climate or weather patterns, no more or less than usual volcanoes, cyclones, tornados, droughts, floods, diseases, and earthquakes around the world, and no increased danger from the Alpine Fault, the Witch in the Attic, or the Big Bad Wolf.

Nothing is coming to get us in the night, nor blind, suffocate or burn us in the day. Earthquakes are not on the increase just because a measly few more holes in the surface of the ground are being dug to get oil out. Tsunamis are not lining up to wash all the cities away. Mountain ranges are not getting ready to crumble and dash all our houses and roads into the sea. Volcanoes aren’t staging a takeover of the world.

The seas are not warming causing more rain then floods then misery. Things are the same as they always were, the occasional storm and occasional flood. The sun's heat hardens the ground and bush fires put nitrogen back into the soil. Heat causes evaporation that brings rain and floods. Floods carry ash and seeds further afield allowing diversification. Plants grow in new locations and are again fed by the sun’s heat.

Volcanoes throw CO2 into the air and it drifts slowly down. Rain brings most CO2 back into the sea, with the rest combining to form weak acid carbonates which embed in rocks. Earthquakes enable rocks to reach the sea and eventually underneath new volcanoes, the cycle taking millions of years. There are enough volcanoes every day beneath the sea and above to keep CO2 at a constant average of 350 parts per million of the atmosphere, across many centuries.

Severe events only take us by surprise because we are unprepared. The enemy is not Nature, but the unexpected. If it were not for nature we would not be here and nor would the planet. The environment has not declared war on us. There is no agenda to destroy us. Rather, we have declared war on ourselves and on each other, but we are more comfortable blaming the planet. The reason is that war generates money, which we are taught to crave above happiness.

As long as there are newspapers there will be alarmism. Fantasies about monsters and the world ending used to be safely contained between the covers of children’s fairy tale books. When you opened the book they were there and when you closed the book they went silent, enabling the most sensitive child to sleep soundly. It used to be the child's choice to open the covers.

But now books, with that close-ability feature, are largely absent and demise scenarios roam free, allowed the run of our waking hours. Wherever a child turns he is confronted with them at full volume on the internet and espoused by people considered responsible. School hammers children with the evils of pollution, ozone depletion, oil and whale endangerment. A story repeated often enough quickly becomes fact. To survive in the marketplace the ratings-competitive media try to outdo each other with more frightening ‘science’ and there are always gullible and frightened folk who buy it.

The media do not create gullibility or fear. We do that to ourselves. We could equally not do it, and all fears about the environment not being sustainable, global warming, climate changing for the worse, and pollution from greenhouse gases would vanish. Life as we know it is not under threat from people not riding enough bikes or recycling enough cans; it is under threat from our own refusal to celebrate it. Instead we choose conflict in all its forms, misery, guilt and confusion, because these create quicker social cohesion. We unite to march for causes and we party during and afterwards with those we like and know.

There is a better way. When a couple have a child they get one chance to create a contented being. They can shower him with restriction, fear, confusion and worthlessness, or they can teach that the world is a happy place and that their child belongs in that happiness. Central to this is that fear is reasonable, understandable and natural regardless of age and fears may be associated with fear of the unknown. This can be conveyed by combining stories with night-time. Fairy tales resolve to manageable conclusions. This conveys the subliminal message that fears of the dark are also transitory and manageable. The child grows out of these books at the same time as he accepts darkness. But we never completely outgrow books and drama, together with our fear of the unknown.

Moving shadows threaten because they are unidentified. Lack of information makes us less able to discern, then misunderstandings render us incapable of making rational and informed decisions about our own wellbeing. That immobility is what we fear the most. Scaremongering belongs to darkness. It would seem that science has been stolen and locked up by evil madmen who in their own fantasies imagine they can take over the world. As children maybe they read the books but fell asleep before the endings because they missed the part where anyone can be the hero who rejects sublimation and saves his own world.

We can become Robin Hood, Flash Gordon, Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman anytime we choose. We can simply refuse to allow true science to become suppressed or misrepresented by remaining open-minded. That way alarmist fantasies about the world ending soon would never see the light of day. Knowing that, we can all again live happy lives and encourage our children to dance and sing as they used to do.

Ken Ring of www.predictweather.com is the author of the Weather Almanacs for 2013 and 2014 (Random House)

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