Although I didn’t – on the spot – find a suitable and adequate response with which to pursue the question, I have since thought more about it and decided that his (unfortunately common) attitude is one of dangerous optimism.
There are two fatal responses to global climate change:
Often unspoken in this position is an assumption that the environment is an optional extra that ranks (for instance) a lot lower than the (assumed) necessity for economic growth. There seems very little realisation that the non-human part of nature is the only thing that keeps the planet habitable for humans – and that if we fail to co-operate with nature and care for it, then we are finished !
The technical means to avert this disaster – such as the capture of CO2 and its storage in widely-occurring layers of basalt rock – are already within our reach. What is lacking is a general awareness of the size and urgency of this possible – but enormous – task. Lacking also is an awareness of the almost immediate improvements to our quality of life as we begin to co-operate with, heal and enhance the splendours of nature itself.
An awareness of these two points in the general population is necessary to generate the political will to prioritise this task over all others.