Today is apparently some kind of Blog Action Day for the environment. I don’t know how legit it is – I didn’t hear about it until today, and I’m not normally much of a “joiner,” but in my opinion it won’t hurt anybody if I talk a little bit about the environment.
I am not particularly educated about it, but I care about it. I confess that I leave most concerns to other people who are dedicated to the science of preserving it. Because I’m not particularly skilled or knowledgeable, I figure it’s not my business to spend too much time thinking about it. But I do spend time worrying about it.
I’m convinced that climate change is real, and it scares the bejeezus out of me. Many of you agree with me, so I’m not talking to you right now. I’m talking to those of you who don’t agree, or who are on the fence. Those of you who believe it’s an overreaction, or that it’s a deep liberal conspiracy. Who am I to tell you you’re wrong? After all, I just admitted I don’t know all that much about the environment. But still … what if you are wrong?
Say you live in a village that just happens to be situated under a large dam. If the dam breaks, the village dies. If the dam stays, the village lives. Half the village is convinced the damn needs renovation. There are small cracks and a tiny amount of water is leaking through. Some experts say the small cracks are indicative of a larger problem, and eventually they will turn to large cracks, before giving way completely and flooding the town. Others say it’s poppycock, and the dam is strong as ever.
So the village is left with two choices. Fix the dam, perhaps at unwarranted expense, or leave the cracks and hope for the best. When it comes to consequences like wiping out the village, I believe giving the benefit of the doubt to the worried half is worth your consideration.
What motivates the deniers of climate change? For some I’m sure it’s a momentum thing. They know a lot of people who are against it for possibly politically allied reasons, and so they go along with it. Truthfully, momentum and trust are large parts of the reason for my being convinced to believe it. For others I suspect a deeper psychological reason: they’re afraid like I am, but it’s easier to rationalize the problem away.
What makes me particularly comfortable with the idea of “doing something” about the alleged problem of climate change is that the prescription for the cure has positive benefits in any case. Reduce air pollution? We can benefit from that even if there isn’t a causal relation to climate change. So let’s use this potentially catastrophic situation as an excuse to clean up the air. We’ll have happier lives and if we’re lucky we might just save the world while we’re at it.
Update:I shut off comments because, as could probably be predicted, it is turning into a debate between pro and con readers. It’s not that I don’t think you all have a right to your opinions, but more and more the comments were debating the finer points of other readers’ opinions, not mine. Well, it’s my blog and I take seriously what you all have said in response to my thoughts. I think the comments that have come in so far do a good job of representing two sides of the issue, so there probably isn’t a lot more that needs to be presented here.