Lord Turnbull and the ‘Really Inconvenient Reality’

Lord Turnbull came to give a presentation on his ‘Really Inconvenient Truth’ about climate change today, but all I got out of it was the reflection of a ‘Really Inconvenient Reality’.

His presence here was showered with prestige, but tainted with an unfair amount of conceit. Not on Lord Turnbull’s part- but rather, the entire procession and hype surrounding him resulted in ridiculously high expectations and, to be honest, a resultantly disappointing presentation. At the end of the entire talk of furious highlighting and intense note-taking (if not for anything but to keep myself preoccupied and awake); I realized that the only thing I had gotten out of the presentation was the latin quote:

Nullius in verba.

Take nobody’s word for it.

And quite frankly, a questioning mind is hardly something that an ex-Cabinet Secretary would need to fly all the way to Singapore to tell a few hundred students (some listening, most sleeping) about. Such notions have, and will be, emphasized throughout our education and our lives- and for Lord Turnbull to make such an effort to come here just to make that point- well, one must be blindly passionate about his subject or ridiculously misconstrued about our intellect.

Increasingly the things we are made to do or sit through seem to be part of somebody else’s therapy.

I can quite clearly imagine why he should say what he has said; I have no doubt that more than a handful of politicians are exasperated over the emphasis on green technology and economic inefficiency, etc- and probably have become incredibly dis-enamored with the government for giving priority to companies that depict decarbonization as some sort of categorical imperative to drive forward their cause. People and groups with a vested interest have been making use of this argument.

And in that Lord Turnbull is right: we shouldn’t just believe them. But his case is with the UK government, not with us students.

I liked Lord Turnbull- I had expected a cantankerous, obdurately passionate man with an overwhelming ego and a vexing self-righteousness in his beliefs (or radical, supposedly different ideas). Instead, he turned out to be a convivial old man that had a distinguished air about him (despite him walking with a slight limp)- and whom constantly reminded us that he wasn’t forming a theory or argument, but simply calling on us to question things.

I agree with that.

But sometimes agreeing with someone gives rise to a certain disappointment- agreement rarely stimulates heated discussion. Not that I had expected heated discussion: I only expected an engaging presentation.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disappointed with Lord Turnbull and his presentation per se- I’m just disappointed at society in general. I’m sure there are thousands of people out there who could give a more engaging, less pretentious, and more enriching presentation on the ‘Really Inconvenient Truth’ of climate change- but yet they do not have the chance, simply because they don’t have the status. We were honored that Lord Turnbull would deign to come and talk to us as a school- and that is precisely the problem. Why should we feel that way? Why should we value his presence so much more than another’s? Why should I feel guilty for expressing my disappointment?

What can I say? A man’s title precedes his being.

And that, is the Really Inconvenient Reality.

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