Rodney Hide: Al's prediction a snow job

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There's plenty of snow at the North Pole for Santa Claus. Photo / Getty Images
There's plenty of snow at the North Pole for Santa Claus. Photo / Getty Images

What was Santa supposed to do? Float on a lilo?

By now he and his elves were supposed to be bobbing about in a warm sea; his workshop at the bottom of the ocean.

Fortunately for Santa, former United States' Vice President Al Gore was wrong once again. The North Pole remains fully iced-up.

Five years ago this month, Gore predicted that the "entire North Polar ice cap will be gone in five years".

But five years on, the North and South Poles are still capped in ice.

Arctic Sea ice is within a standard deviation of the "normal" line, and global sea ice is above normal.

Santa and his workshop remain safe and sound. The presents will still be delivered.

But what of Gore? He just carries on. There's no embarrassment nor is there an apology for getting it so wrong.

The scary predictions are just updated and made more apocalyptic. The need for radical action gets ever-more urgent.

For the past 20 years we have been inundated with apocalyptic headlines.

The disappearing Arctic ice is just one of thousands.

Not one has come true.

The scary prognostications make great headlines. Their failure to materialise doesn't make the news.

We appear hard-wired to seek out and remember scary stuff. Finding out the world is not about to end isn't interesting.

Which headline is the most arresting: "Arctic gone in five years" or "Arctic still there"?

It's the fright that makes the news and the fright that just gets continually reworked and updated.

We appear also to have deep within us an Eden complex. The sense that everything was once good and wonderful and somehow greed and materialism have messed up the planet.

It's not a rational conclusion but a deeply emotional feeling telling us that we are burning too much fuel, that we are living beyond the planet's capacity and that we simply have it too good.

We are easily made to feel guilty and the primitive desire to return to nature and a simple life is readily invoked.

The response is a powerful and emotional one. There is no thought within it or care about what it would take to live in Gore's recommended world.

Gore proposes a global Marshall Plan. That's him and his mates running a totalitarian world government while the rest of us live impoverished in communes.

It's easy to see why the alarmists don't focus on their proposals.

Their focus is to awaken the deep emotional impulse within us that makes their radical change possible.

But not to worry. Santa is safe this Christmas. And no doubt Gore and his mates are busy working up new scares for new headlines next year.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- Herald on Sunday

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