There is something poetic about comparing the head of a low-budget airline company to an ostrich.
The CEO of Ryan Air, Michael O'Leary, the cheap-flight kings of Europe, is grabbing headlines today and it is not for his company's cramped no-frills flights, but for his comments regarding the reality of climate change.
Despite the fact that 2010 is on track to being the hottest year in recorded human history and decades of scientific evidence to the contrary from the most prestigious scientific academies in the world, O'Leary is quoted in an interview with the Irish Independent that,
"Do I believe there is global warming? No, I believe it's all a load of bullshit. But it's amazing the way the whole fucking eco-warriors and the media have changed. It used to be global warming, but now, when global temperatures haven't risen in the past 12 years, they say 'climate change'."
In the article, O'Leary goes on categorize
"... the United Nations as "one of the world's most useless organisations", its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as "utter tosh", and US politician Al Gore as someone who "couldn't even get fucking re-elected" after a boom."
"The scientific community has nearly always been wrong in history anyway. In the Middle Ages, they were going to excommunicate Galileo because the entire scientific community said the Earth was flat... I mean, it is absolutely bizarre that the people who can't tell us what the fucking weather is next Tuesday can predict with absolute precision what the fucking global temperatures will be in 100 years' time. It's horseshit."
Given the fact that the airline industry is one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gas in the world, O'Leary's thinking shows that some people will always find it easier to bury their head in the sand than deal with a challenge. But it is also in tune with a lot of people these days.
Recent polling in the EU has shown a marked drop in the number of people who believe in the idea that greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels is the cause of climate change. An April 2010 poll found that only 38% of British respondents agreed that, "global warming is a fact and is mostly caused by emissions from vehicles and industrial facilities."
While people like O'Leary may seem crazy to most, there will be many who will read his comments and nod their head.
Since the failure of the international talks in Copenahgen and the climate bill in the US Senate there has been a lot of talk about the need to re-build the climate movement and I couldn't agree more. One thing that needs to be dealt with at the same time is the disconnect between the science and public opinion about the causes and consequences of climate change.
After all, it is hard to build a movement if you don't have a critical mass that believes in the cause.