Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Global warming as religion ...

Truth to tell, I am sort of an agnostic about Anthropomorphic Caused Global Warming (I think an especially apt term, since Conservatives accuse liberals of making AGW a religion). To extend the metaphor, I will say I subscribe to a version of Pascal’s Wager concerning global warming. It may exist, it may not, and if it does it may or may not be caused by man. I am not enough of a scientist and I don’t have the time to put in the research to read all the different views. But I figure we should behave as if AGW does exist. Yes, it will be expensive to reduce carbon emissions and then get off fossil fuels all together. But let’s face it, there are other kinds of pollution caused by burning fossil fuels besides the effects of global warming, and the fossil fuels are finite anyway. Yes, we won’t be able to force everyone to stop driving cars right away, we won’t be able to get buses and trains in place right away to take the place of cars, we will be using gasoline for perhaps fifty years to come. And yes, China and India and other countries are going to want to develop and their citizens are going to want to be able to own cars. But we can start reducing the size of our new cars right now, we can implement speed limits and enforce them. We can do things now so that in fifty years our grandchildren will have oil for things they really need it for. And the planet will not be choked with pollution. Oh yeah, and the polar ice caps won’t have melted, assuming they were actually going to.

But I am willing to listen to the skeptics, or the adherents. I think realclimate.org seems like a sensible web site, for example. Did you know we are in a La Nina (however that’s spelled) year? If I did I had forgotten, but it is one of the reasons why I guess things were cooler last year and this year (although the winter has been quite mild so far). It was in an AP story. I caught it because I looked at a blog entitled “Democrats-Lie”. The blog post was complaining about how Democrats/liberals act as though global warming is a religion and are insane. There was one sentence quoted from the AP Story: "While skeptics are already using it as evidence of some kind of cooling trend, it actually illustrates how fast the world is warming." From this one quote, the blog author decided that the media is in the pocket of the global warming mafia. However, the rest of the paragraph mentions that we are in a La Nina year. In fact, we have seen something of an increase in El Nino and La Nina years, and this may be because of global warming. That was the actual meaning of that sentence.

Because I am something of an agnostic here, I am more in favor of taking steps that save people money (even as they change their life styles). So more bicycles, more mass transit, more CFL’s and LED lights, and as I said smaller cars and enforced 55 mph speed limits on the highway. I’m not saying that you should get rid of your SUV (unless you want to), but when you go to replace it, unless you have a job that takes you off road, you should think about downsizing. Various taxes, on gas or carbon, are not a bad idea, but they should be refunded at set intervals, at least to poor people. Our approach to global warming should be to try to change behaviors, not punish people. If we (the US) do that well, the Chinese and Indians will follow suit when they start to get tired of their own pollution.

1 comment:

EdHeath said...

That first sentence should have called AGW - "Anthropogenic global warming". I knew I should have looked, but I didn't.