Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pontification

(And, no, this doesn't have anything to do with the Pope)

Today, BOSSY wrote a fun little post about evidence that the polar ice caps are melting. The comments have been quite interesting. I suggested, in the comments, that, if people were interested in learning more about the science of climate change, they might want to read The Weather Makers: How Man is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth by (respected scientist) Tim Flannery.

In the very next comment, someone countered by saying that people should read State of Fear, the well-researched (*cough*) and fictional story about the Global Climate Change Conspiracy by (respected science fiction author and creator of ER) Michael Crichton. Seriously, people, if you are basing your entire thought process about a significant global event on a work of fiction (and I'm looking at you Sen. Inhofe), then you may want to .. um ... I dunno, broaden your horizons a bit?

I'd like to think that having a Master's degree in Global Environmental Policy gives me some credibility here, and I'd like to put forward one of my favorite little ideas (right up there with the Polluter Pays Principle). I call it the "What If You're Wrong Theory."

People can disagree on the mechanism of climate change. They can disagree on whether it's anthropogenic or not. Hell, they can even be foolish enough to disagree that something weird is going on with our climate. However, take a look at it through the "What If You're Wrong" lens.

If I am wrong and climate change is not occuring and is not anthropogenic, and people and governments still make radical changes to mitigate climage change, what happens?

Hm. We move off a carbon-based economy. Developing countries get better, cleaner technology. Pollution decreases. Global standards of living go up. Seems good, even if there's no such thing as climate change.

Now, what if those people who disagree with me are wrong? What if climate change is happening and we don't try to prevent it?

Hm. Small islands disappear. Mass extinctions. More extreme/severe weather. Massive coastal flooding. Drought. Stronger storms systems. For an even more ghastly "what if" take a gander at Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future by Peter Ward.

Personally, I hope I am wrong. But what if ...

10 comments:

  1. I see the truth of it now.
    So, with a Master's degree in Global Environmental Policy you are unqualified for pretty much every job out there?? Is that because you are overqualified, or because there are few jobs in your field of specialty? Good luck finding a job, Vuboq. Good luck finding jobs to apply for!!

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  2. anne marie in philly5:29 PM

    the majority of people in this country are total idiots.

    how else do you explain rush, faux news network, lou dobbs, ad nauseum...

    thank you for the thoughtful insight, genius that you are!

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  3. I minored in Geology b/c my professor was smoking hot and smoke weed. All I remember (beyond those two things) were plate tectonics are very important and the American government will destroy the earth. Does that sound about right?

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  4. on the plus side of the ever quick rising of the 'water' levels... my richmond, va home may be beach front property someday... should I have it put on stilts now... sorry... it was there, i had to take it... i do my best to help the environment... now if the politicians around the world would...

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  5. People are idiots. I'm surprised the commenter didn't reference a comic book as evidence.

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  6. I agree with the "what if" point of view. Personally, I don't think there's enough evidence one way or the other as to how fast we're accelerating things, since climate change has been going on long before man even stood up. But, why risk it? I'd rather not have to worry about having an asthma attack just by opening my front door... There's more to this air/water pollution thing than just climate change... (And yes, I've read State of Fear... it was a good read, if you didn't take it as the word of God...)

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  7. I read the State of Fear book, it was good. Lots of action and stuff, well written for the most part. I liked Jurassic Park too, it doesn't mean I believe scientists can bring back dinosaurs!
    It's crazy that people would base their opinion on reading a book made for entertainment!
    Anyway, I really like that "what if I'm wrong" process of thought, I will definitely reuse that!
    Have a good day!

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  8. One of the worst things to emerge in this nation over the past twenty years is the notion that everybody's opinion is equally valid, even when it is based on total fantasy. Yep, everybody has a right to their opinion, but some opinions are better informed than others.

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  9. I tend to defer to the experts. (Esp. the ones who aren't funded by the fossil fuels industries.)

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  10. See, that's the thing that always gets me--anthropogenic climate change or not, who can argue with being less reliant on foreign oil? Call it Global Warming, call it Pink Polka Dot Fairy Dinosaurs, whatever.

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