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Some of us can’t handle the truth. Some people like to tell untruths long after they have been proven wrong. First, some say the science is wrong. Then they say it can’t be us. Then they say the challenge is too big. Then they say we can’t do anything about it. They use doubt as an excuse to do nothing.

The world’s climate scientists (the people who know what they are talking about) say that there is a 92% chance that human activity is the major cause of the current climate change. There is an 8% chance that they have got it wrong.

What if 92% of the world’s scientists said that drinking a potion they studied was dangerous and you are likely to damage yourself if you drink it? But there was an 8% chance that everything would be okay. Which advice would you listen to? Would you drink it?

Has the time finally come when we just have to trust the scientific experts? Companies making money out of dangerous products try to trick us into believing that they are the experts. Let’s look at our past to see if this has happened before.

There is a long history of industry telling untruths about how dangerous their products are. First let’s look at the asbestos industry.

Asbestos

Asbestos was a very popular building product from the 1860s – 1980s. The only problem was that if you breathed it in it would slowly destroy your lungs and kill you. This disease is known as asbestosis. Despite the first recorded death in 1924 the use of asbestos in Australia was not banned until 2003. Why did it take almost 80 years for the ban?

 

Cigarettes

In 1892 doctors first wrote about ‘the destructive effects of cigarette smoking.’ The American Surgeon General finally declared smoking a cancer causing health hazard in 1964. At that time (largely due to untruthful advertising) only 44% of people that it might be bad for you. Ten years later 78% knew the risks thanks to the Surgeon Generals warnings on cigarette packets.

Tobacco advertising was banned in Australia in 1992. So why did it take 100 years to slow down the deaths from smoking?

Climate Change

Human activity contributing to climate change has been understood in parts of the scientific community since 1896. By the mid 1950s it was clear that the problem was human created greenhouse gases. Now 60 years later we still have people trying to say it isn’t so. Why are we still unable stop this pollution?

There are great forces at work as these three huge industries of asbestos mining, tobacco smoking and burners of fossil fuel make enormous amounts of money. This includes our governments who become reliant on the income they receive through taxation and royalties.

These companies have a habit of ignoring the impacts on us – our atmosphere, fresh water, forests, oceans, soil and our own health.

Our current challenges are not new. The best science tells us that we have until 2020 to turn things around and stop the pollution. The longer we leave it the harder and more expensive it will be later.

 

See video: ‘The Sky is Pink’ An emergency short film from Josh Fox, the Oscar-nominated director of GASLAND addressing the urgent crisis of drilling and fracking in New York state.