Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I'm one of those who think that while global warming may be happening, given the evidence, I still doubt that we are to blame for the recent warming cycle. I've followed the concern for years now, read about everything I can get my hands on (even fiction on it, State of Fear, by Michael Crichton), and nothing compelling has convinced me that we are at fault and can really do anything about it. (When I first heard about it, I was. But most of the stuff since has convinced me it's a natural cycle.)

I had it on my list anyway, but at a friend's urging when I told him the above, I made sure I saw Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.

Well, I'm still not convinced we are at fault, but I am now convinced there's no reason not to take steps to reduce emissions wherever possible. Gore does a great job of making a case that there won't be significant economic impact if we do take such steps.

And, if you haven't seen it, it's worth a few minutes of your time. It's a good show. Make sure to catch the updates in the extras.


Anonymous said...

In 1989 I was sitting in an Astronomy 201 class where we spent a week or so studying the planets. Regarding Venus, the professor mentioned that the temperature there averages 900 degrees, not because it is closer to the sun than Earth (that only accounts for part of the heat) but because its atmosphere is over 90% CO2 and the greenhouse effect there is out of control. Then he mentioned, as an aside, "we seem to be trying to turn the Earth into Venus, by burning fossil fuels and putting all that sequestered CO2 into the atmosphere." Again, this was 1989. The basic science behind human activities as a culprit in global warming is solid, and I've never really doubted that human activities are causing the warming that we're seeing. The burning of fossil fuels may or may not be the *only* cause of our warming, but it is certainly a contributing factor.

That having been said, I do not believe there's a damned thing we can do about it. "We" meaning Americans and Europeans. America is right now the largest emitter of greenhouse gases (as our Euro friends keep reminding us), but in 5-10 years China will surpass us, and maybe 10 years after that India will also. In those countries (as everywhere else) the biggest culprit is coal-burning power plants. Who is going to tell them that they need to go without electricity, for the good of the Earth? Not me. Setting aside the philosophical question of whether it's even right to tell poor people that they shouldn't do what the rich have always done, there remains the indisputable fact that they will never, never agree to it. They are going to build those power plants, they are going to burn that coal, and the earth is going to get warmer.

Ergo, global warming cannot be stopped. That's either terrifying or comforting, depending on your view of things.

Yahmdallah said...

I agree entirely. What you've laid out is unpopular, but it's true.

I still think that, while we can't change India or China, we can at least try to do some good here in America. As long as it doesn't cripple our economy, there's no reason to not make what just might be a futile gesture.