Miles Kington: Come on in - the global warming's lovely

'It's failures who survive best. The ancestors of man best adapted to life in the jungle just stayed there'
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The Independent Online

We have all seen experts on global warming. They come on the TV and shake their heads and say that, if we do not mend our ways, we will court disaster. If we do not cut emissions and persuade the Americans to sell their cars and buy bicycles, we are on the road to perdition. These experts then look extremely sorrowful and pocket their fees and get in their cars and go home till it is time to prophesy doom elsewhere.

But not all experts on global warming are like that.

Professor Lance Bastable is a cheerful expert on global warming. He thinks that global warming is rather a good thing. Not only that, he also doesn't think it's happening.

"Well, clearly the earth is warming up just now, I don't deny that, but the earth has always warmed up and cooled down. There's nothing new about that. What is new is that we have convinced ourselves that we are entering a new and final phase of the earth's existence and that we are all on a big dipper car which is going to get faster and faster and finally get out of control. It's an entrancing theory. The only thing that is wrong with it is that there is no evidence for it whatsoever."

But surely...

"Everything that is happening today has happened before. These changes are within normal parameters. Indeed, I might say that past changes have been much more extreme than what we are getting now. Ice ages have come and gone. Continents have been submerged. The Sahara was once fertile farming territory. And we think that a few floods show the end of the world!"

But surely...

"Shall I tell you what the trouble is? The trouble lies not in the climate or the use of fossil fuels or pollution – and don't forget that we have had drastic climate changes in the past without the benefit of global industrial pollution – but in our perception of what's happening! And our perception of weather is based on a very short memory span indeed; a lifetime as far as personal memory is concerned and a few hundred years when it comes to statistics. 'The hottest October since records began' you hear people saying. But when did records begin? Yesterday!"

Yes, but surely...

"So we think that what is 'normal' is what we know. We think it is normal for winters to be cold and summers warm. We think it is normal for Africa to be hot and Russia cold, for the monsoons to come on a certain date and for the primroses to be out by a certain date. What short-term rubbish! What is normal on our planet is for things to change! Ice ages, earthquakes, fire, floods, those are the normal things. As soon as we have taught ourselves to view change as normality, this so-called global warming emerges as just another shifting pattern, and nothing to be frightened of at all. Do you know what would frighten me? If there were no global warming or anything like it! Because then I'd know that our planet had stopped changing and its batteries were running down."

Yes, but doesn't he think that...

Professor Bastable is not a man who listens to interruptions, or even notices them.

"Historians are gradually coming round to the theory that war is the normal state of affairs, not peace. We'd all like to think that peace is the norm, but a peaceful nation is a non-evolving nation. Same with evolution. Experts always called it the 'survival of the fittest', but Darwinians now think that it is the failures who survive best. The ancestors of man who were best adapted to life in the jungle just stayed in the jungle. Those who couldn't survive there had to leave and adapt to the world outside, while the jungle-dwellers just got smug and decadent! Maybe that's why America came out on top in the jungle of modern life – because it's populated by the outcasts of all other nations! Same with weather. We'd like to think that an unchanging climate allows life to flourish, but it just leads towards a vegetative life. Change – that's what we need more of!"

But surely...

"Sorry!" says Professor Bastable. "Got to run. Some other time. Meanwhile you can find all this and more on the first programme of my new TV series, an episode I've called Come On In – the Global Warming's Lovely!"

Lance Bastable's new TV series, 'Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Warmth?', accompanied by book, video, board game and T-shirt, starts next week on the BBC Disaster channel

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