The Climate-Change Climate in the U.K.

A quick visit to the U.K. confirms that environmental and global-warming concerns are, on the surface at least, acutely more pronounced here than in the U.S. Reminders and nudges seem to be everywhere, many of them seemingly intended to make you feel guilty for every breath you draw and every bite you swallow. A bottle of Belu water arrives at the table: “All Profits to Clean Water Projects,” it says. “The U.K.’s First Carbon-Neutral Bottled Water.”

A Times article by Ben Webster reports on a £6 million governmental ad campaign arguing that “Man is causing global warming and endangering life on Earth”:

Ministers sanctioned the campaign because of concern that scepticism about climate change was making it harder to introduce carbon-reducing policies such as higher energy bills.

The advertisement attempts to make adults feel guilty about their legacy to their children. It features a father telling his daughter a bedtime story of “a very very strange” world with “horrible consequences” for today’s children.

The little girl has an angel’s face; the bedtime story includes weeping bunnies, rising seas, drowning doggies, and evil, energy-consuming grownups.

Most interesting, to me at least, was this bit of the article:

When asked how they would react if they knew climate change were going to have a serious effect on their children’s lives, 74 percent [of British adults surveyed] said that they would be willing to change their lifestyle. Fifteen percent said that they would not make any changes.

That’s encouraging, yes? Three of four adults “would be willing to change their lifestyle.”

But I’d advise you to ignore this survey completely. As we write at some length in SuperFreakonomics, such declarations of good intentions, which come at a personal cost with little in the way of immediate benefit, are the emptiest of promises.

Interestingly, my visit to London occurred on the same day the Sunday Times ran a longish extract (not yet online) of SuperFreakonomics; its headline: “Why Everything You Think You Know About Global Warming Is Wrong.”

That said, the incessant environmental nudging worked on me, at least for the first meal I took here. Instead of a breakfast including every form of meat known to man (as if often the case here), I took the Vegetarian English Breakfast, with a “sausage” made of spinach and ricotta (yum), vegetarian black pudding (like chomping a dry sponge), and a few slices of soy bacon (tasted quite nice, although it looked like a surgical glove). I believe the eggs actually came from chickens, though I cannot be certain.

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  1. Jake says:

    “When asked how they would react if they knew climate change were going to have a serious effect on their children’s lives, 74 percent [of British adults surveyed] said that they would be willing to change their lifestyle. Fifteen percent said that they would not make any changes.

    Good grief. That’s akin to asking someone if they would change their eating habits if they knew that it would extend their life by 30 years. Of course people would be willing to change if they knew for certain their actions would have a serious effect on their children’s lives.

    The point of this is that no one knows for certain what, if any, effect “climate change” or “global warming” or whatever it’s called this year will have on anyone, or even if humans can have any effect on the climate at all. It’s a ridiculous question to begin with.

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  2. Ian Draper says:

    I have like so many seen this commercial and how the child reacts should make us all realise it is not us adults that will suffer but the children`s children and while we act as adults like children then their lives will be blighted by effects that we so called adults have wreaked on this earth.

    The question is when do we learn that what ever we do affects someone else. The Buddhists are well known to have said if you throw a pebble in a pond one day it will become a wave, well mankind has dropped too many boulders into too many ponds and now we have tsunamis, what is next before we learn ?

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  3. Diego says:

    Big scale and long term political decisions will prevent catastrophic climate change, not the token acts of self punishment the British have been performing. some will stop holidaying overseas to save plane fuel, and then collectively allow subsidies for inefficient crops and so much other waste. Not to mention Greenpeace´s unending campaign against the one clean and viable energy source: atomic.

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  4. Thomas B. says:

    “The Buddhists are well known to have said if you throw a pebble in a pond one day it will become a wave, ”

    I cannot duplicate these findings.

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  5. Holme says:

    What really worries me is the NGO and government supported fear mongering that is used to indoctrinate and scare children. It is starting to look more and more like the religions of the past: If you don’t behave you will go to hell.
    I honestly think this is bordering abuse.

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  6. Conor Neill says:

    It is a great shame that the essence of Global Warming debate is not the facts but so much emotional heart wringing and credibility bashing of the other side’s view. I think there are some sensible things to do whatever the reason for (or existance of) global warming – save energy, recycle… it is a pity we don’t just focus on the tools we can give people to change lifestyle and not spend all the money on emotional blackmail.

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  7. Eric M. Jones says:

    –2, Ian Draper:

    “The Buddhists are well known to have said if you throw a pebble in a pond one day it will become a wave….”

    No they didn’t. This is not a Buddhist concept at all. Perhaps you mean that throwing a pebble into a pond has consequences. Some come sooner, some come later, but actions always have consequences.

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  8. Benjamin Seghers says:

    It’s a shame that there exists a preponderance of evidence to support the theory of anthropogenic global warming that is being completely ignored by the septics (intentionally spelled as such) and even being attacked through disinformation campaigns. The septics, unfortunately for them, have very little scientific evidence to support their specious hypotheses. Instead, they rely on emotional arguments based on fear mongering. There are various reasons for this, one of which include protecting archaic and inefficient industries that would undoubtedly crumble with the advancement of more efficient technologies. Alas, the story of global warming is the story of the largest externality in human history. Speaking of “efficiency of markets” is not even possible so long as we allow anthropogenic global warming to continue unabated.

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