The moon and stars?

By all rights the Greens should be engaged in a soul-searching exercise, perhaps sharing a retreat-house with Sinn Fein, trying to figure out why the electorate thinks so little of them. Poor SF merely had peace in Ireland to boast about, and still came a couple of percentage points above the party wielding the all-important, media-dominating “Green Agenda”. Even Rupert Murdoch's leading daily tabloid has got some “Buy the Sun and Save the Earth” wheeze on the go.


Apart from being a cute tagline, the last part of this line is a fair summary of the comic-book proportions that most people now seem to believe the climate situation has reached. Never mind that the idea that the planet needs saving is absolute rubbish, and probably not even recyclable rubbish: “consensus” notwithstanding, scientists differ enormously about the scale of the problem (the alarmist London Independent recently front-paged a scientific report saying the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) dramatically underestimates the heat-up ahead), but none of them think the earth itself is threatened, just many species, lots of people, and perhaps, worst-case, human civilisation itself.

Serious, to be sure. But unless the Sun knows about some asteroid that's going to knock Earth into the sun that isn't owned by Murdoch, and is raising funds to divert it, the Superman stuff is purest hyperbole. The planet will do just fine without us.

Still, the acceptable level of hyperbole at large in the media indicates that the Irish public genuinely believes something catastrophic is afoot and action is needed. (The media assisted considerably when they buried the IPCC conclusion that Ireland was among the few countries that would mostly do well out of global warming.) You could argue that when people came to the voting booth, selfishness and short-termism kicked in, but it is at least plausible that the Irish Greens didn't make the grade as potential action heroes. Ironically, three of them find themselves with ministerial responsibility without having really convinced the public of their competence to deal with the problems.