05/13/2010 06:41 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Step Away From the Heat Beam

It's strange how, among the segment of climate change deniers who think the planet is warming but think it is all perfectly natural and we should just lay back and enjoy it and think of Greenland, the view that global warming never did anyone any harm is dominant. They welcome, embrace, the idea of an extra 2, 3, 4 degrees, the more the merrier, bring it on. They are relaxed about the change in the way that a man falling from a building with 100 floors reaches number 50 and says "so far so good".

I'm a science fiction/fantasy fan, and it is clear that climate change deniers are not. But let me try this on them. What if a space ship suddenly arrived in orbit around the Earth, and communicated with the people of this little blue planet. They said - hey, you insignificant little grubs, we want your planet, want to take one of your rare Earth elements. If you don't give up all your stocks of it now we will use this heat beam to begin warming up your planet.

What would our response be? Go for it you nasty little green bugs, do your worst, no chance of warming up this planet, but even if you did, through a technology that seems like magic to us, so what? Be good to have it warmer.

Or would there be an instant call to battle stations? Red phones ringing on desks of presidents and prime ministers around the world. Old enemies reconciled, wars ended, terrorists de-bombed. Radio shock jocks would rally their listeners to support the UN, conservative politicians would join hands with progressives in unity governments, giant corporations would put their factories on a war footing, universities and think tanks and computer companies would put their best brains to work. And solutions would be found, space shuttles launched, shields erected, wavelengths interfered with, heat beams reversed until the aliens were turned into so many fried green tomatoes. Phew, we would all say, wiping our fevered brows, missed a bullet by that much, now we can go back to business as usual insulting those commie fascist liberal egghead scientists. And threatening to blow up the United Nations building and the University of East Anglia.

So why not now? Surely we don't have Benedict Arnolds among us who are hoping to commercialise the heat beam, sell uranium to the aliens have we? Or does the fact that we are doing it to ourselves, without the help of aliens still riding around in 1950s model flying saucers, mean that it is somehow all right? Odd that, the effects would be the same, but the response, so far, oh so different.

I make it too warm for deniers on the new Watermelon Blog.