Have you ever noticed a lump growing on your body? Maybe you’ve thought, it’s probably nothing, if I ignore it, it will go away. If you’ve been in that situation I sincerely hope you had a good friend who encouraged you to go to the doctors and get it checked out. Denial is a natural response to danger, but it is very dangerous.
Planet earth has a perilously high fever. We are experiencing the symptoms all over the planet, with increased droughts, floods, melting ice caps, rising sea levels and extinction levels between 100 and 1000 times greater than the background levels. People who deny this and ignore the science that says we must change the way we live now or face an uninhabitable earth in the future, are spreading denial and encouraging governments and people not to take the action that is necessary.
I recently visited Nancy Fielder, the editor of the Star, with a small delegation from Extinction Rebellion. We presented a petition of more than 400 names demanding that the Star tell the truth about the climate emergency. I asked her if a reader wrote in, telling parents not to get their children immunised because this causes autism, would she publish it? She didn’t answer the question, but I like to think she would not publish it, because she knows it would be irresponsible to encourage people not to immunise. The Star has a duty to educate and inform people, especially on matters which affect our health. How much greater then is the responsibility to inform people about the climate emergency when the very survival of our species is at stake?
Since then we have had several more letters from Neville Martin who is in complete denial about the climate emergency. He is entitled to his opinions, but surely if the Star prints these letters, they have a responsibility to add a fact-check, showing what the scientists say.
In his latest letter, for instance, he claimed that ice on Antarctica is gaining not losing. This is a lie. Only this week we had the news that the massive Thwaites glacier, which is as big as Florida, is now in danger of slipping into the sea. When it melts, sea levels will rise by 2 feet. But that isn’t the worst of it. Thwaites sits at the centre of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, and if it breaks off into the sea, it would destabilise nearby glaciers that could, in turn, raise sea levels by roughly 11 feet. Without new infrastructure to protect them, coastal cities around the world would be flooded. Hundreds of millions of people’s homes would be inundated.
The ice at the poles currently reflect the sun’s rays and keeps our planet cool. When the ice melts the rays hit the dark ocean water, and the suns energy is absorbed. The warmer water then melts the surrounding ice even quicker, producing a dangerous feedback loop which continues to speed up global heating.
Mr Martin is like a friend that, when he hears you’ve got a lump, tells you not to worry about it and it will go away.