Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Calm in the Global Warming Storm

On Sunday June 29th, the Idaho Statesman declared, "The greenhouse gas debate is over. It's time for action."

In the editorial, they went on to cite the well-understood but rarely-acted-upon reasons for more CO2 in our area: traffic, sprawl, agriculture industry. They also ripped the State Legislature for failing to fund more research by "the state's scientists."

(Interestingly, every solution they cite is something that the "officials" need to do. I guess they didn't want to upset their subscribers by encouraging them to do something about it. Also interestingly, they didn't specifically equate the increase in greenhouse gases with global warming.)

Two days later, an editorial in The Wall Street Journal was titled, "Global Warming as Mass Neurosis."

Author Bret Stephens says the evidence of a global warming pattern isn't persuasive. "Six of the 10 hottest years since 1880 antedate 1954." (NASA data) But most of the piece is psychoanalysis of the global warming disciples. Stephens thinks many of them are largely motivated by a belief that our society's "successes are undeserved and that prosperity is morally suspect."

He compares them with those who embrace religion: "What we have here is a nonfalsifiable hypothesis, logically indistinguishable from claims for the existence of God. This doesn't mean God doesn't exist, or that global warming isn't happening. It does mean it isn't science."

So... who or what to believe?

I tend to believe that like so many fads that preceded it, the popular "global warming movement" will eventually be supplanted by some other popular movement in our short-attention-span society. Either because the evidence won't pan out, or because it's happening so slowly that the "American Idol Audience" will lose attention.

I also sincerely believe - and have stated previously in this blog - that whether or not human activity is having an impact on the global climate, I can personally live a "tread-lightly" existence. It won't hurt ANYTHING if I have the minimal possible impact. (My fellow citizens can do the same thing if they so choose, and I encourage that voluntary choice.)

As a Boy Scout, I believe in "leave no trace." That's pretty self-explanatory.

As a religious individual, I believe that God gave man dominion over the earth. But He also charged Adam (and his descendents, of whom I am one) to be stewards of this beautiful planet and care for it. It's hard to say I'm doing a very good job, if I'm leaving a trail of rubble and pollution in my wake. (But that's a nonfalsifiable hypothesis, so I'll never convince a skeptic, nor will s/he convinve me that I'm wrong.)


db said...

I don't really care if someone does or does not believe in global warming.

There's enough reasons right in this valley -- poor air quality, vehicular deaths, suburban sprawl, unchecked population growth, etc. -- to spur folks to do the right thing. Regardless of any politics or religion.

It's not hard to identify local problems and fix them. I think a lot of the "regulars" in here are doing just that.

Anonymous said...

I thought Al Gore declared the debate about Global Warming™ over two years ago. Did he forget to cc the Statesman?

Nonetheless, I agree completely that it just makes sense to minimize consumption, regardless your motivation. Whether you're an environmentalist, a business owner, religious, a Boy Scout, a farmer, poor, rich, a The-Sky-Is-Falling alarmist, or just a cheapskate, doing more with less is common sense. Sadly, it just ain't that common.