Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Global Warming: Is This Really A 'Debate'?

The great preponderance of reputable scientists and scientific organizations have concluded -after decades of careful analysis- that the planet Earth is experiencing accelerated climactic warming, due at least substantially to human influence.

Yet, despite this very solid and sobering conclusion there are still some -including a distinct minority of reputable scientists- that say they disagree!

I certainly respect those scientists who need better proof to satisfy their legitimate doubts about the broad conclusions of the great majority of their peers, because such matters are open to a certain amount of uncertainty.

What is most troubling is that most of those in denial seem to be merely following a script that they wish to be true, whether it is based upon faith, wishful thinking, simple opinion, resistance to change or just contrarianism.

In our age of enlightenment and technological advancement, those attitudes seem very hard to justify; especially when these same people have readily accepted the wonders of our age as everyday parts of their lives!
How does one decide which technology or scientific conclusion to believe in and which to challenge as bogus?

And, this subject is certainly not the only one under similar debate.
Just look at the claims, counterclaims and revised opinions that are so frequently attached to so-called miracle drugs for example.
Or, things like space exploration, DNA research, artificial insemination & abortion issues, the healthiness of hybrid foods, and whether our Lake Whatcom Reservoir is prematurely degrading.

The point is, some things can never be completely proven to everyone's satisfaction.
But, to allow a small majority to hold sway in the face of sometimes overwhelming evidence doesn't make sense either.
When a very substantial consensus is reached on such matters, the prudent thing to do is to proceed cautiously accordingly.

Just for the sake of argument, let's say global warming isn't happening.
How would that affect what we ought to do?

Even if global warming can't be proved to everyone's satisfaction, wouldn't it be prudent and smart to not waste so much energy?

Wouldn't it benefit us to quit filling our atmosphere -the very air we breathe- with noxious pollutants?

Wouldn't a serious program of technology development create jobs, new products and more modern ways of living -just like the space program did?

Think about it.

Do we have to prove global warming in order to realize the good things that would accrue from a serious program of technology development toward improving our lives, the environment and reducing our dependence upon foreign oil and fossil fuels in general?

Of course there are also those who profess to believe petroleum supplies are endless, too!
So, here we go again on an unprovable question that is not likely to be resolved to everyone's satisfaction.

To that particular point, here are some counterpoints that beg our serious consideration:

• Is it smart for the US to continue to depend on oil from foreign sources?

• Is it likely that the cost of oil will remain stable and affordable to those who depend upon it?

• Is it likely that those countries, organizations and corporations which control the oil supply will support a policy that begins to wean our civilization from its oil addiction?

• Would ignoring the development of new energy sources and more efficient use of it be useful, particularly when demand for oil is rising dramatically from developing countries?

If anyone has doubts about the obvious answers to the above questions, does that negate the validity of these questions?
But, the bottom line is that there are some things that simple denial will not erase, and that specious arguments will not counter.
Primary among these things is the growing importance of sustainability in our lives and for our country.
Sustainability has always been important, but now it has become much more clear as to its urgency.

I hope we will begin to pursue policies that emphasize sustainability as a real priority.
The time has passed when we can simply defer this issue to future generations!

So, let's stop arguing about questions that can never be completely proven to everyone's satisfaction, and begin addressing the serious things we can do to make our lives healthier, less expensive and ultimately happier.

Surely, even the most cynical among us would agree to such a policy, or would they?