The Lure of the Easy Fix

Yesterday I received in my Inbox a suggestion you may be familiar with. My reader, quoting someone called Karl Pilkington, drew my attention to the latest in a long tradition of lateral-thinking geo-engineering alternatives:

They keep saying that sea levels are rising an’ all this. It’s nowt to do with the icebergs melting, it’s because there’s too many fish in it. Get rid of some of the fish and the water will drop. Simple. Basic science.

I hadn’t heard of Dr Pilkington before this, and a quick search of Google Scholar revealed no previous contributions to the peer-reviewed literature on climate change, its causes and its impacts—but then, the ignoratii have never been sticklers for scientific credibility,  have they?

The dangerous thing about this sort of solution is not that it couldn’t possibly work but the opposite: it is physically plausible, and therefore seductive. It perfectly exemplifies the lure (sorry!) of the easy fix.

In fact, you might even call proposals like Pilkington’s… deeply irresponsible.


I know, I know—but the pun was begging to be made. If you’re one of those people who consider the subject of climate change too important for humor, I have three words to say to you:

I sincerely apologize.

Anyway, back to the topic. As long as the problems of climate change can be averted relatively painlessly, we’ll always have an excuse to avoid the difficult but necessary task which the science devolves upon us: punishing the fossil-fuel multinationals, their executive officers and the other owners of Big Capital.

We are, therefore, dealing here with escapism of the most reckless kind. The universities and institutions associated with Prof. Pilkington need to state, loudly and clearly, that he does not speak for them.

One thought on “The Lure of the Easy Fix

  1. Pingback: Climate Thought for the Day | CLIMATE NUREMBERG

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