Michael Francis
Michael Francis

Let’s assume there’s no global warming

If there is no global warming then it is business as usual, right? We should remove any barriers to economic growth and dismiss the consequences. What I hear in the constant refrain from those that either dismiss or downplay global warming is that we should not worry about environmental issues at all. It seems that the majority of that lot deny there are other consequences for rampant industrialisation.

What of the destruction of delicate and vital ecosystems? St Lucia in South Africa (now part of Isimangaliso Wetlands park) is facing a fight by industry to mine the dunes for titanium. Should we be concerned by the loss of turtle habitat? Do they matter at all? There value must be thought of in greater terms than the tourism dollars they bring in. Protection of the delicate species ensures the protection of all the species in such a habitat. Ensuring that habitat is safe means it is safe for the people that live there as well.

Ensuring a safe habitat for the humans of an area must also be extended beyond the safety of protected zones. Factories, refineries and other large industries produce smog and pollution that has been shown to have detrimental affects to humans exposed to it in the long term. Durban South has one of the highest rates of leukemia and a few other forms of cancer in South Africa. The state has even moved people from poisoned areas to new settlements, but fails to penalise and force cleanup by the industry doing the polluting.

So even if global warming turns out to be a false warning we should be doing our damndest to stop the air pollution and various other environmental pollutants being expelled by the very industries targeted by the greenies fighting to stop global warming. Green technologies used for the production of energy are also environmentally friendly in other ways.

But of course the very people fighting against acknowledging global warming are the last to step up and take individual responsibility or recognise other pollutants and other inter-connected issues. This is why the most vocal and vitriolic in the debate do not acknowledge their own subject position or personal biases.

And of course that goes both ways. There are the “green police” that also lack a balance in their views.

There must be some form of a common future that can be created out of all this mess. Cleaning up global industry must be one of the priorities, what ever your views on global warming are.

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/michaelfrancis Michael Francis

    “We’re using up the Earth. It’s almost gone.[original italicized) You can’t live with such fears and keep on whistling.” (Margaret Atwood, 2009, The Year of the Flood, p. 239)

  • Atlas Reader

    Academics have to lock step with the prevailing mood in the academic world or else they risk their career advancement being sidelined. And “global warming” caused by human agency is the latest academic religion.

    (That recent Iceland volcano has just, in 4 days, spat out over 100 times more greenhouse gases than all the cars in the whole world created since the turn of the century.)

  • Wise Old Joe

    Thanks Michael. And a message to the climate change denialists out there “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” – Albert Einstein.

    I still think the debate must move away from arguing with morons who are paid to undermine mainstream climate science, to what will happen if CO2 is causing global warming as we are 90% certain.

    For example, 75 million Pacific Islanders will become refugees in the next 40 years, the global economy will shrink 20%, new diseases will appear, tropical diseases will move into temperate zones, property will be destroyed by freak weather and rising oceans, millions will stave across Africa, Asia and South America.

    The public must understand the risks involved by ignoring climate change warnings. If you get an earthquake or tsunami warning, do you hang around debating the issue with someone who does not have a clue about seismic activity , or do you take precautions?

  • Jane

    To find out how the fossil fuel industry and their hangers on have such an amazing follwing of climate change denialists read “Toxic Sludge is Good for You!: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry” by John Stauber, Sheldon Rampton.

    This shows how industry controls how we think obviously to their benefit i.e. smoking is not harmful, DDT is safe, GM foods are safe, there is no man made climate change, nuclear energy is the best, cheapest and safest energy around, er yes????

  • Mark

    is it the companies in the dbn south basin that are at fault or is it the governments fault fro allowing people to live in an industrial area?
    In m,any case it is impossible for refineries etc to lower their emissions as the are a result of the chemistry of the process. you are right a balance needs to be found, a balance between not allowing excessive unnecessary pollution and one that sees that each industry has some pollutants that if we don’t want we need to do with out that industry and the jobs, services and products it supplies

  • http://vuurklip.net Franz Dullart

    You seem to be confusing pollution with AGW. These are entirely separate issues.

    We should not pollute, we should protect the environment, we should not waste energy resources.

    Climate has been changing long before we existed, due to (little known and not well understood) natural causes. These natural causes still operate today. Unless we understand the natural causes, mitigation is expensive and pointless. Adaptation is the most cost effective policy.

  • http://hismastersvoice.wordpress.com The Creator

    But if we should not pollute, should not waste energy resources and should protect the environment, then everything which is called for by opponents of global warming should be pursued.

    In short, if you have already conceded everything, why do you feel obliged to pretend that the massive increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide which has occurred in the last century (and carbon dioxide was shown in the nineteenth century to be the chief determinant of environmental temperature) has nothing to do with the climate change which you claim we must do nothing about?

  • brent

    Thank goodness you are moving to combatting pollution and not tilting at AGW windmills. If we spent the billions of $ plus the emotional energy and brain power combatting/cleaning up the worlds pollution and letting the concept of AGW Climate Change go the way of the dodo we actually can clean up the whole planet; water, land and air for everyones benefit.


  • Boet Botha

    @Franz Dullard

    No one is deneigning natural climate change. But as mainsteam science has found, CO2 emissions cause a greenhouse effect that traps the suns rays and causes global warming, which in turn causes causes climate change. Before the industial era there were 285 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere, with pollution from fossil fuel industries we now have 380ppm and are fast approaching 450ppm. We need to at least get below 350ppm urgently. We cannot have man made climate change on top of natural climate change.


    Denmark uses closed systems so industry does not pollute. They have an exceellent environmental recorsd and a booming economy. Germany is going 100% renewable energy within 50 years. Why does SA have to use coal and oil when it has more sun and wind raw materials and an economy that requires less energy per capita than Germany?

    Answer: Because SA has been colonised by minds that cannot think beyond their noses.

    We don’t need to compromise with polluters, renewable energy provides far more jobs than dirty industries anyway.

    Worldwide wind capacity is now over 121 GW, with over 27 GW added in 2008, creating 440 000 jobs and worth over €40 billion. Solar PV totals more than 16 GW (70% growth in 2008), with all RE generation over 280GW, excluding solar heating of over 145GW.

    More recently, China is steaming ahead with wind generation, I must look up the figures.

    Either the polluters stop polluting or they get stopped.

  • Boet Botha

    @Atlas Reader

    Re: “That recent Iceland volcano has just, in 4 days, spat out over 100 times more greenhouse gases than all the cars in the whole world created since the turn of the century.”

    Kindy provide a credible source for the above statement.

    The best book I have read on climate change which exposes industy links to the denialist lobby is George Monbiot’s ‘HEAT’

  • me

    I don’t deny that the earth is warming, I just don’t think we have anything to do with it, it was hella warmer in the middle ages, they grew grapes in bladdy britain.
    And smoky Joe, Stop calling me a “denier” it really makes it sound like you are pushing some nutty religion rather than science, and trust me you aint pushing no friggin science. Most of those “Facts” you just stated have been disproved in just the past 3 months (search climategate, glaciergate , amazongate ).
    I am certainly not living under some global police state that measures the fart gas I emit to tax me on …… I am quite happy to support local environmental causes but I really have no belief in a global fix which would cost billions to implement, would penalize the successful and which would fill up in Al Gore’s pockets…… sorry no thanks

  • Judith

    @Atlas Reader – so that justifies us pumping out as much pollution as possible? Your thought processes defy logic.

    The amount of pollution that we are generating means that we need the resources of 10 planets in order to sustain our current consumption levels. Whatever we are doing right now is not sustainable and has to be revised immediately. We are not thinking of the future and we are destroying it for our descendants. Most at stake is our water resources.

  • Wise Old Joe


    To pull the carpet out from under your great faith in Climategate that is religiously touted by climate change denialists, read Gwynne Dyer’s “Climategate and disbelief” on

    I will be buying Dyer’s new book ‘Climate Wars’ soon, he has great wisdomm and understanding and cuts through corporate spin like a warm knife through butter. I have read some of his previous books.

  • Boet Botha

    1) New study on renewable energy challenges conventional wisdom

    2) And even more exciting from China, last year, 10,129 sets of wind turbines were installed, totaling 13,803MW, up 124 percent over the previous year. By the end of 2009, China’s total installed wind turbines reached 21,544, amounting to 25,805MW, up 114 percent over the end of 2008.

    NB. So China now has more than half of South Africa’s total power generation capacity from wind turbines alone.

    Neither climate change nor pollution need happen.

  • Wise Old Joe

    Oh by the way ‘me’

    Your denialsm of anthropogenic climate change (man made climate change that is) is as flawed as your economics on climate change. Read the “Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, a 700-page report released on October 30, 2006 by economist Nicholas Stern for the British government, which discusses the effect of global warming on the world economy.

    Its main conclusion is that the benefits of strong, early action on climate change considerably outweigh the costs. It proposes that one percent of global gross domestic product (GDP) per annum is required to be invested in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change, and that failure to do so could risk global GDP being up to twenty percent lower than it otherwise might be.

    In June 2008 Stern increased the estimate to 2% of GDP to account for faster than expected climate change.”

    There we go ‘me’, enough hot air from you, ta, ta for now.


  • http://www.newsmice.com Mike Haseler

    The reason why I’m such an activist against the global warming scam, is because if you aren’t honest with the public and use lies and deceit as have been used in bucketloads, then you will be found out. It is inevitable that you will be found out,

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/michaelfrancis Michael Francis

    @Atlas Reader – Academics do not have to lock step with the prevailing ‘mood’ (which in my experiences is a rather grumpy one). Once I obtain a tenured post I am pretty hard to dislodge even if my research is contrary to dominant themes. To make your claim just reveals your ignorance of the global academic system.

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/michaelfrancis Michael Francis

    @The creator – I think you may have misunderstood or never read my blog properly.

    My main point is that those who make the claim that global warming is not a problem are simply arguing for nothing to be done about industry’s pollution and emissions.

  • Bert

    Excellent, well-balanced piece, Michael – There will always be denialists, most of whom are hand in glove with the capitalist elites (who would rather die than lose their financial-economic position of present comfort). Sooner or later the pollution of the atmosphere will be decisively linked to present capitalist (as formerly also to socialist) industries.

  • chez

    There are 2 things I read that made me think about global warming. One was; there are over 6 billion people on earth, how can we honestly believe that we have NO impact on the planet? We say that farting cows impact so why wouldn’t we?
    The other thing is; if “they” are wrong and there is no global warming and we have gone to all these lengths to stop pollution – so what? We have done good anyway. Yes it will cost, but our children will breath cleaner air.

  • C Moon

    Global warming aside – i think the whole warming debate is hiding the wood from the trees, taking our focus off the big picture – causing many folk, myself included, to roll our eyes and duck for cover when any environmental concern is raised – our rampant overconsumption is screwing the planet. If we don’t whack it with warming we’ll poison or something. Yes, the Earth is warming whether we have something to do with it or not, what we are doing is to continue to poison rivers, seas and land and then hide behind ‘carbon footprints/credits/etc’ yadda yadda…

  • Check the facts

    Michael, there is no threat to mine for titanium at St Lucia. That battle took place nearly two decades ago, conservation won the day and it is now a World Heritage Site.
    You have probably confused St Lucia with Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape.

  • Blah blah fishpaste

    @Mike Haseler

    You make me laugh, you are an activist who is a climate change denialist, right.

    That reminds me of a Republican Party activist in the USA protesting against a Democratic Party government supported universal health care programme.

    At a protest this Republican activist got knocked over by a car and his fellows had to pass a hat around so he could get medical care, as he had no medical insurance of his own.

    My observation is the right wing are so obsessed with misinformation they protest against what is good for them. They are blind to the truth.

    I will put my money on it this guy still votes Republican and still opposes universal health care on ideological grounds despite the fact that he needs it desperately, and swears blindly he is fighting for the truth.

  • Borris the Beast


    Something else to think about.

    It is the wealthiest few who contribute the most to climate change. Millions of poor people who breed the fastest and live on one or two dollars a day don’t (or hardly) contribute to climate change.

    If the wealthiest 20% of the global population drastically curbed (eliminated) their greenhouse gas emissions, there would be no anthropogenic climate change.

    Its overconsumption that is the real problem when it comes to climate change, not overpopulation, though large population overuses and stresses other resources.

    @C Moon – all pollution must be cleaned up, especially CO2 emissions that cause climate change, as they are likely to have the largest most long term and devatating effects.

  • Borris the Beast

    Forgot my signature:

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/michaelfrancis Michael Francis

    @Check the facts – I was in St Lucia in the start of January and there is a group that is arguing for mining. They claim the mining technology will not destroy the dunes completely so should go ahead. The second threat at St Lucia is mining off the coast which is not yet cost effective but could be soon and will be another fight over proximity to shore etc.

    St Lucia was proclaimed in 1999 as Isimangaliso Wetlands park so 12 years ago – and yes a major success.

    Anyone who works in conservation knows that any success is temporary as there is always someone trying to put in a golf resort, mine something or carve it back.

  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/michaelfrancis Michael Francis

    And in case anyone wishes to argue that it is over consumption and not over population as the problem would have to concede that the current levels of poverty must be maintained. Over consumption is a huge problem and must be curtailed but without a lower overall population standards cannot be raised without once again damning the earth. With some green technology we can raise the overall standards to be above misery but never to Malema levels for all.

  • Borris the Beast


    Raising education and living standards brings about sub replacement fertility rates leading to negative population growth. Try and tell that to a right winger who blames the ‘population explosion’ for everything he sees wrong with his little world though.

    Blaming population growth for climate change, excessive pollution, reason to promote GM crops, the use of dirty energy, inflation, peak oil etc. is a cop out, it is conveniently shifting the blame from the real culprits, the greedy capitalist profiteers and overconsumers to innocent by-standers.

    On saying that I see the strong need for negative population growth, I just don’t accept the argument of overpopulation being used to take focus away from the real causes of environmental problems. I saw somewhere the UN predicts that after topping at between 9-11 billion in 2050 world population would naturally decline and level off at about 3.5 billion at some future date.

    If the money used to wage the US wars against Iraq and Afganistan had instead been used for sustainable development in the poorest regions of the globe we would have been heading for sub replacement fertility rates and negative population growth much sooner.


  • http://thoughtleader.co.za/michaelfrancis Michael Francis

    @Borris – The best birth control is education and raising the living standard to an acceptable level. And the war money should have been redirected long ago.