Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Global Warming

I just want to see if I can understand this issue without getting into the finer points of computer modeling and statisitical analysis:

1. Is Global Warming happening?

Probably. Temperatures have risen over the last hundred years more than has been the historical norm.

2. Have we caused it?

We don't know. We don't know enough about how the Earth "works" to know what is actually happening. There are simply no atmospheric/climate models complex enough to accurately state the causes or predict the end result of this phenomenon.

3. Could this be "Bad"?

Maybe. It is also possible that increased CO2 will cause more plant life and we'll end with a greener Earth that produces more oxygen.

4. If it could be "Bad", shouldn't we take precautions?

Reducing pollution is always a good idea. But, some advocate a radical re-ordering of society to stop the emission of "greenhouse gasses". To take steps that could literally destroy the world economy when we don't have adequate knowledge about the causes and potential ramifications of "Global Warming" is nothing short of irrational. The Kyoto Protocol that was heralded as a necessary step, would have done virtually nothing to even slow down the rate of increase of the Earth's temperature. What it would have done, however, is cripple the economies of many nations. Even those governments that signed the accord, have found it impossible to meet its requirements without curtailing economic growth.

What is a good idea, for a multitude of reasons, however is to devote ourselves to the development of a "post fossil fuel" world economy. If we did not need oil, we could quickly disengage from the Middle East. If we did not need oil, we could stop arguing about pollution risks from drilling and refining of petroleum products.

Some in the scientific community, because they've concluded it contributes to global warming, advocate labeling CO2 as a pollutant. Fine, let's call it a pollutant and admit that it contributes to global warming. Should we severely restrict our global industrial output to minimize emissions of CO2? To answer this question, consider this: in 1992, during the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Phillipines, the Earth herself spewed more CO2 into our atmosphere than all of mankind's activities, since we climbed down out of the trees...combined. Now, what benefit, exactly, is going to accrue to us from our minimization of CO2 emissions? The more important question is: how do we go about reining in the earth's own dangerous and heedless activities?

The bottom line seems to be this:

The idea that we can positively and meaningfully impact forces that we have no substantial understanding of is the height of both anthropocentric arrogance and sheer, unadulterated stupidity.

No measures we take, no matter how drastic, are GUARANTEED to fix the problem (if we even understand the problem, which we really don't) - and in fact may serve only to plunge BILLIONS of people into misery and deprivation for no good reason.

Let's all put down the Kool-Aid and step away from the edge of reason.


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