The Climate Change Banquet

Imagine a gigantic banquet. Hundreds of millions of people come to eat. They eat and drink to their hearts’ content – eating food that is better and more abundant than at the finest tables in ancient Athens or Rome, or even in the palaces of medieval Europe. Then, one day, a man arrives, wearing a white dinner jacket. He says he is holding the bill. Not surprisingly, the diners are in shock. Some begins to deny that this is their bill. Others deny that there even is a bill. Still others deny that they partook of the meal. One diner suggests that the man is not really a waiter, but is only trying to get attention for himself or to raise money for his own projects. Finally, the group concludes that if they simply ignore the waiter, he will go away.

This is where we stand today on the subject of global warming. For the past 150 years, industrial civilization has been dining on the energy stored in fossil fuels, and the bill has come due. Yet, we have sat around the dinner table denying that it is our bill, and doubting the credibility of the man who delivered it. Economists often noted that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.” They are right. We have experiened prosperity unmatched in human history. We have feasted to our hearts’ content. But the lunch was not free.

It’s not suprising that many of us are in denial. After all, we didn’t know it was a banquet, and we didn’t know that there would be a bill. Now we do know.

I just found that quote here (it is a Polish blog). It comes from this book about scientific denialism (not only – not even mainly – with regard to climate change). I guess, it is worth being put on one’s “to-read” list.

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