Letter: A treatise on global warming and its political implications
November 2, 2013
A treatise on global warming and its political implications
We know that ice ages and tropical ages have been cyclic for hundreds of millions of years, give or take a couple of billion. But it should be noted that several of those cyclic shifts are associated with mass extinctions.
We also know that human activities are increasing greenhouse gases and diminishing the systems that mitigate said gases. It may be that, even were we not mechanizing and deforesting at an enormous rate, we might still see a global warming trend.
Furthermore, our production of greenhouse gases is arguably small when compared with certain natural forces. But the fact of the matter is that human activity cannot help but accelerate this cyclic change; it is only the degree that is in debate.
This is detrimental not only to other species but to our own. The more quickly a weather system changes, the less likely any particular species is to evolve quickly enough to keep up. And accelerated climate change is likely to result in more violent weather, which, despite millennia of experience, we continue to fail to build our structures to withstand.
We are also the only species cognizant of our effect such that we can mitigate it consciously. And there is no conceivable harm that could be done to the global environment by reducing our effect if we do so through conservation and natural processes (as opposed to active environmental engineering).
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The potential economic harm is something that could be avoided easily, as our economic systems (all of them) are a fiat anyway; all you need is the political will to acknowledge the needs as they make themselves apparent and address them. This means to me that no matter how you view global warming, there is more to be gained and less to lose by addressing it than there is by ignoring it.
Sensationalism can be useful for bringing about policy change. Without fear (as much as it annoys me to admit it), most people remain apathetic. On the flip side of that, sensationalism breeds strong opposition. If you tell me to fear something that I don't believe will happen, regardless of whether either or both positions have valid points, it discredits your position.
The problem with ideology is that it takes sides, and will get behind any argument in its own favor, even if the argument is misleading or invalid.
The problem with rationality is that it tends toward ambivalence, pros and cons, variables and opposing factors always to be considered, which makes it difficult to garner support.
You can get the masses behind you only if the issue at hand appears to them to be black and white, which very few issues in actuality are, particularly those surrounding global warming.
The solution will not come from eradicating the reluctant through attrition nor conversion. The solution also will not come from inaction. So what is the solution? I'm open to suggestions.
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