(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 ...