On the evening of October 30, 1938, “millions” of Americans tuned to CBS radio’s “The Mercury Theatre on the Air”. The introduction clearly informed that the drama was based on H.G. Wells’ book The War of the Worlds. The episode was presented as a series of simulated news bulletins, informing that Martians had landed near Grover’s mill, New Jersey, and were attacking using a deadly heat ray. The show progressed in a manner to appear that a crisis was actually happening in real time as increasing numbers of troops engaged the Martians in land and air battles, to no effect. This program became famous for allegedly causing mass panic, although the reality of the panic is disputed since the program had relatively few listeners, and the amazing events would have occurred over a period of only 40 minutes!
Every year numerous sitings of UFOs are reported. Governments world wide have discredited these reports, claiming there has been no proof that UFOs exist. Persons believing in aliens from outer space have demanded that government release whatever information they have, and let the public decide whether there is proof or not. Some people believe the government is withholding real evidence because they are worried that would cause wide spread panic….. Ironically, we live in an age of Star Trek TV shows, and Star Wars movies. If Martians really did land it is likely people would want to go meet them or fight them, but definitely not panic.
Mean while back in the real world, we are facing a real threat to the long term well-being for mankind, under the concept of Global Climate Change. The way governments are handling this suggest they don’t believe global climate change is happening or they are worried that people would panic. The government has an obligation and a duty to share with the public what they do know. We do know that recent Conservative governments have muzzled their scientists, have shut down valuable Environment programs, and laid off hundreds of scientists who probably should be addressing this problem. One wonders whether the government is waiting for the public to become numbed about climate change the same way we’ve become used to the idea of aliens visiting from outer space.
It’s time for the government to realize that the public does know quite a lot about climate change. Although the local TV weatherman assures us that climate≠weather, we do see reports of how often our new weather is exhibiting changes outside the normal range of weather variables. If that’s not climate change, what is? We do know that to meet environmental guidelines means we need to reduce the volumes of carbon dioxide which means reduce the volume of petroleum products being burned. We also know that means leaving some petroleum underground. That cannot be changed by arguments for methods of transporting oil i.e., by rail or pipeline.
I do know that I want the government to take significant efforts to encourage development of green technologies. How about development of more cost effective solar panels? How about development of thorium fuel for generating electricity? How about development of desalination facilities to aid farm production in arid regions of the world?
There are a lot of risks in trying to stop the negative trends in global climate change. Many of the consequences will have economic ramifications. We need to engage in developing global solutions. The government needs to inform and communicate with the public. Trust us, we can handle the bad news and move forward to solutions. We are no longer afraid of Martians at our doorstep.