The climate change issue is very, very confused. There are principally four arguments against climate change:
- Global warming is not actually happening.
- Global warming is happening, but human activity has very little to do with it.
- Human activity contributes significantly to global warming, but we in the West shouldn’t have to pay, since China and India and others continue to pollute.
- Global warming is actually beneficial to man.
So which is it?
I’d add a fifth argument:
- No global warming.
- Humans didn’t cause it.
- China and India are whores.
- It’s a Good Thing.
- The science is very poor and we can’t prove a damn thing yet. (The scientific evidence gives us sufficient cause to be concerned, even if it doesn’t constitute “proof.”)
So what, if anything, should we do? As the old adage goes, “Better to be safe than sorry.” What is the safest thing to do…?
- Nothing. Either this is not a problem (it may be good for us), or it’s not a problem we can solve (inevitability). We’ll just take our chances.
- Something to make us feel good, even if it’s ineffectual. Better to fiddle while Rome burns.
- Something, in case we can actually make a difference. Who knows? We just might turn things around.
What is the safest course of action? Should we even take the safest course of action?
An argument can be made for doing nothing, taking no course of action. If global warming hurts our world, the Earth will survive. We will survive, even if coastal cities are flooded and millions of people are displaced. Even if climate change ravages our agriculture and causes famine. Even if water stress leads to devastating wars.
If the Earth’s ecosystem is upset, it will adapt and renew, as it always does. Species come and go. Dinosaurs and ancient sea creatures vanished from our midst and it didn’t really matter. Forests are destroyed, only to rise again in a different guise.
Man can, and will, adapt to an altered ecosystem. We can build underground complexes or mile-high, continent-spanning cities made of “ice.” We can move to space, to Mars, to the asteroid belt. We can cull our numbers and have a world population scaled appropriately to existing resources.
Do not underestimate Earth’s or man’s resilience. We don’t need to be worried about a Human Extinction Level Event (H.E.L.E.).
In the end, it doesn’t really matter. Man has always suffered through catastrophes; he can’t avoid them. Just one more thing to suffer through…
UPDATE: Apparently, my attempt at satire is going over everybody’s heads. Whoosh! I’m being too subtle and clever. I guess I have to explain the satire…
I’m suggesting that we must do something about climate change if for no other reason than erring on the side of safety. The consequences of ignoring global warming, assuming we don’t believe in the current science, are dire. For those (conservative) critics who would dismiss the global warming claims as unsubstantiated, they would be inviting the possibility of famine, war, or the displacement of millions of people. But they just might think it’s okay.