The Lure of the Easy Fix

Someone called Karl Pilkington has been doing the rounds of the climate avoidosphere with the latest in a long tradition of lateral-thinking geo-engineering dodges:

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.

Now I’d never heard of Dr Pilkington (or his co-author Ricky Gervais for that matter) before, and a quick search of Google Scholar reveals no previous contributions to the peer-reviewed literature on climate change, its causes and its impacts—but then, since when have the ignoratii been sticklers for scientific credibility?

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’ve got 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 put off the painful 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. Principles like academic freedom and tenure are all well and good in peacetime, but not in an existential debate like the non-existent debate about climate change. The universities and institutions associated with Prof. Pilkington need to state, loudly and clearly, that he does not speak for them.

1 thought on “The Lure of the Easy Fix

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

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