Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

June 1, 2007

Global Warming Apologists Continue Campaign

Filed under: politics — codesmithy @ 7:02 am

Digg ran an ABC story on how NASA’s Top Official Questions Global Warming, in which Michael Griffin states:

I guess I would ask which human beings — where and when — are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that’s a rather arrogant position for people to take.

This is after IPCC concluded that global warming is occurring and one of the motors for this change is human influence. I’m not a climatologist, but in any natural ecosystem, there are buffers. For example, global dimming (1,2,3,4,5) suggests that we have unknowingly been buffering ourselves from greenhouse gas emissions by putting particles in the air that increase our cloud cover. On the other hand, there could also be unknown tipping-points that lead to more greenhouse gas emissions without further intervention, think of it like a thermite reaction or a nuclear meltdown, a reaction that once started is self-sustaining and difficult or impossible to stop.

If a major piece of land-based ice melts, and falls into the ocean, sea levels will rise, causing the very definition of a catastrophe. Thinking about the amount of disorganization caused by Hurricane Katrina. It is difficult to imagine the complete impact of similar events, happening to heavily populated cities around the world, in similar time-frames.  It would be disastrous.  It could easily cause a fundamental breakdown in society, causing social revolutions and uprisings.

I don’t think that the debate was ever about whether or not, this climate or any climate is the “best for all other human beings” on the planet.  I don’t know how you could a “best for all other human beings” to be.   Does he mean maximum capacity for the population of human beings? Maximum quality of life for the human beings living?  Some combination of the two?  From, my point-of-view, we get along just fine the way the planet is.  It would seem to be in our interest to keep the planet the way it is and not gamble with it.  The one thing that is certain, is that when we gamble, we are dooming millions of people to die from displacement and changing environments, along with massive destruction of property, industry and livelihood.

Ultimately,  I don’t have a crystal ball that can see into the future.  Michael Griffin could be right, a warmer planet could “better” for us once we get over the millions of people left dead in the wake.  But, there are reasons to think that it won’t be.  Humans are superbly adept for the environment the way that it “is.”  We are the top, and there isn’t any place to go but down.  Given a changing environment will kick off a radical round of natural selection due to mass extinctions, how is it in our interest to roll the dice again and see if we come out on top given the costs it takes to make the wager in the first place?

The important points in the debate are that we don’t have to be the biggest contributor to be a significant player, and we don’t have to demand huge sacrifices of a few if everyone chips in a little.

It would seem that the socio-economic elites would be first ones to see what they have to gain by making slight consolations to maintain the status quo.  But, it is interesting that many times they don’t see it that way.  I can’t help but to see the similarity between Theodore Roosevelt and his “trust-busting” and the current situation.  “His [Roosevelt’s] action against the trusts was to induce them to accept government regulation, in order to prevent destruction.” (“A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn pg. 351)  The current mentality is to run it completely run it into the ground and take what you can when you can.  I think Roosevelt had the better strategy.

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