Climate Change

When I was a kid, eggs were good for you and people were worrying about “Global Cooling”.

When I was a young man, eggs were bad for you and people were worrying about “Global Warming”

Now eggs are good for you again and people are worrying about “Climate change”

Forgive me if I refuse to panic. Instead I will ask three simple questions:

  1. Is climate change a bad thing?
  2. Is climate change man-made?
  3. If so, can it be reversed?

People talk about “climate change” as if they expected the climate not to change. This is a living planet. Ice ages come and go. Seas rise and fall. Mountain ranges thrust forth from the Earth’s Mantle. Continents collide. Stuff happens.

I consider the term “Climate Change” to be a bit of a cop-out; like when a doctor who describes and treats the symptoms without looking into the root cause or future prevention – possibly correct, but not very helpful. Yes, it’s true that this is an exceptionally hot summer. It’s also true that a volcano erupted in Iceland not long ago, belching massive quantities of greenhouse gases across the northern hemisphere. Could there not be a cause-effect relationship in play here?

I refuse to fall prey to media-induced scaremongering. I can go to jail for yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded moviehouse, but CNN were talking about “the recession” a year before it happened. Personally I think that this kind of irresponsible journalism was a self-fulfilling prophecy that made things worse.

Every month, my electricity bill compares the average temperature with that of a year ago. Going back over six years, a substantial majority show that it is getting cooler.

So who am I to believe? And what, if anything, can we do about it?

No, I am not dismissing climate change or denying that it exists; I am asking if it is something that we can fix. Some folks treat this like a religious crusade, asking questions like “What will it take to convince you?”.

That is the wrong question. The right question is “What are you willing to give up?

  • Are you willing to step our of your big SUV into a smaller car? Would you want to be seen driving something like a smart car or riding a scooter? And no, for many of us, cycling is not an option (hint: most people downsize vehicles because of the price of gas, not out of environmental concern, as is evidenced by SUVs and trucks on fire-sale when gas hit $4, along with the large number of old people driving huge vehicles)
  • Are you willing to sacrifice performance for the environment (hint: the advertising heavily emphasizes sporty, chic and fast; “environmentally friendly” somehow always ends up on the cutting-room floor).
  • Are you willing to downsize to a smaller house to protect the environment? (answer:no. Most people downsize because kids have left, or to go into institutional care).
  • Are you willing to go without Air Conditioning in the summer and heating in Winter? (answer: No. Just… no)

We can sit and whine about “green power” all day, but the only real options right now are Clean Coal and Nuclear, both of which are unacceptable, as evidenced by the fact that no new power stations have been built in the US in over thirty years. I favor Nuclear; while there is pollution, it is more specific and localized. But the idea of Nuclear Power fills most people with horror. Why? Not because they are unsafe – the US military has been operating Nuclear-powered ships for decades without a mishap – but because nobody wants a power station in their back yard (probably because of scare stories like “three mile island” – a nuclear accident in which no one was hurt).

But none of this matters, because right now, the biggest polluters are in the Far East. How do you stop them? You can’t. This means that even if climate change is our fault – which is as yet unproven – the US cannot fix the problem. And China ain’t about to abandon their ambitions for world domination to keep a few Western Environmentalists happy.

In any case, Mother Earth will have the last laugh.

Now Reading: Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis

Additional: A few days after writing this, I came across this piece, which restates the case better than I ever could. Highly Recommended.

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