So I’ve had some (gasp!) off-blog conversations about the whole issue of climate change/global warming.
I’ll be honest: this is not something I really deal with much. I generally tend to think that there are better than even odds that the planet is warming, but at the same time, I don’t think that Science is a god that demands our worship, and that those who carry the name Scientist must be treated as infallibly making the right decisions about human actions.
So here is my list of reasons why I am, let’s say, suspicious of the message of climate change activists.
- Climate has changed in the past, even in the recent past — e.g., the Medieval Warm, and the Little Ice Age. Heck, as much as everyone likes to say of Greenland, “they called it that in order to con Vikings into moving there,” the climate in Greenland during the period of Viking settlement was meaningfully warmer than in the subsequent years, when those Vikings either died or left, depending on the theory. And, from what I understand, the melting of glaciers in such places as Greenland and the Alps is not necessarily a sign of unnatural warming, but more a return to “normal” after the glaciers built up during the result of the Little Ice Age’s unnatural cooling.
- Climate change “alarmists” present solutions that are too-good-to-be-true: at no cost to anyone in terms of standard of living, we will have high-speed trains, alternate-fuel or high-fuel-economy cars, renewable fuel, etc.
- At the same time, their predictions seem to be so extreme — droughts! floods! crop failures! — that it’s hard to come to a sense of what is extremist and what is more probable. And some of the proofs that activists cite — the smog in Beijing, for instance, are a result of industrialization without pollution controls, but are not a matter of global warming per se.
- The reality is that there are costs and benefits to both warming, and methods of fighting warming — but the “alarmists” deny the benefits to warming and deny the costs of fighting warming. There are also a mix of true costs, and problems of adaptation: humans have adapted to a specific climate during the period of industrialization, urban growth, and the development of a modern economy. Is there a real cost to humankind of the ski tourism industry in various locations no longer being as profitable, for instance?
- And in my lifetime, the crusade for solar panels and alternate-fuel cars has moved from the drive to fight for clean air and water by moving away from polluting coal and gas, to the worry that we’ll run out of oil and other fossil fuels, to the current anti-climate change crusade. It reminds me of the March of Dimes: they fundraised and funded research for polio and provided support for polio victims — and after polio was cured, rather than disband, they found a new mission. In the same way, I’m suspicious of environmentalists who, rather than celebrating the successes of clean air and water, found a new cause. It certainly suggests that their goal is solar and wind, and their climate change crusade is just the current tool for reaching this goal.
Are these scientific proofs that climate change activists are wrong, or, more nefariously, are hoaxers? No. I don’t believe that there’s an intentional desire to deceive the public. I’m not even saying that they’re wrong; I’m just suspicious, which leads me to tend towards neutrality, coupled with a desire not to disrupt the status quo too heavily.
But having said that, it’s not my cause. I’m not going to run out and join the Heartland Institute (though it kills me that they’re pretty much the only local think tank), or, alternatively, become a Climate Warrior. I have other causes, other issues, about which I can write about, and learn about, more competently.
Readers, what say you?
UPDATE: Once you’re done railing at my anti-science denialist backwardness, you can check out one reader’s guest post.
Image: https://pixabay.com/en/pollution-global-warming-environment-2049211/; public domain