I have been having a discussion with a commenter on an earlier post. I thought it would be worth publishing as post on its own as the commenter makes his points and feels deeply about them and why I think he is wrong. I could be wrong but the evidence leads me to believe I am not. If the evidence changes I will change my mind.
There’s no doubt that the issue has been picked up by both ends of the political spectrum to fit specific (and very different agendae) but it really isn’t a political issue.
What is to me alarming are the recent assertions of both sides of the debate. On the one hand we hear hysterical conspiracy theories about world domination. On the other we are scared witless with forecasts of death by fire, floods or starvation. These polemics simply complicate what is basically a simple issue.
Like many other Australians I have children. Like many other Australians I take out insurance. I don’t believe that this insurance is a waste of money, even when my house doesn’t burn down, or my car isn’t written off.
I believe that it is reasonable to insure the future of our planet against two basic threats which would affect the quality of the lives of my children and grandchildren. If we have to make financial and lifestyle sacrifices as part of this insurance then I can live with that.
The first threat is the strong likelihood that exponentially escalating carbon emissions are having negative effects long-term on climate. The second is that we are consuming non-renewable energy resources at a rate that isn’t sustainable if we want to enjoy the same lifestyle benefits currently available.
Either or both of these trends will bring us to a point where the benefits of not acting now will be far exceeded by the costs if we don’t. Even if you completely reject the IPCC consensus, the issue of depletion of non-renewable will simply not go away.
I’ve been trained in risk analysis. I understand the low-risk high-consequence component of basic risk management. There is no more severe consequence to taking an unnecessary risk than the degradation of our planet. That consideration alone should be enough to convince the most avid sceptic that we need to act. Sure, we don’t need the hype, we don’t need political positions to be taken and defended, but we do need basic behaviour change on the part of individuals, corporations and nations.
For me, the most convincing argument comes from personal experience.
My wife and I lost our firstborn child (a daughter), in 1982. The post-mortem indicated that she died of an aneurism that was a result of a congenital defect. The reason for the defect was never established, but studies of the children of Vietnam Veterans contain some very convincing statistics.
This experience, by itself is a powerful personal motivator to support planned and dogged action by individuals and government to maintain our planet as a viable life source for future generations.
I am one of many veterans sprayed with Agent Orange. I've returned to Vietnam on a number of occasions in the last few years and seen vast swathes of the countryside that still haven't recovered after forty years. I've visited Vietnamese institutions for people with disabilities and have been staggered and horrified by the extent and number of these congenital malformations.
Vietnam has one of the highest incidence rates of these malformations on the planet.
The use of this defoliant was an example of utter contempt of the natural environment. This mindset continues today in the attitude many of the sceptics. It is arrogant, totalitarian and basically suicidal.
You can call bullshit and risk the future if you wish. In the memory of my daughter, and for the hope of a good life for my grandchildren, it's a risk I'm not prepared to take.
Thanks for your comment, I think you are wrong in every aspect re climate change. But if you choose to believe your feelings over the evidence that's your choice. It must have been terrible to lose your daughter and I feel for you, I have never looked into the agent orange thing but you have given me food for thought and I will look into it.
I made two points - and you've missed them both.
The first is that this should not a be a political issue. It has been appropriated by both progressives and conservatives to beat each over the head. The politicisation of the issue reminds me of Vietnam. The war became an arena for a clash of ideologies, rather than leaving it to the Vietnamese to sort out.
Millions died for nothing, and young Australians were conscripted as a diplomatic gesture.
The other point is that we need to reign in our extravagant profligate lifestyles before we run out of resources.
As for evidence, I place more creedence in NASA (see - http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/) than the snake-oil merchants that blog incessantly about a conspiracy because thay've run out of ideas.
NASA has better things to do than concoct data.
Put what you 'Feel' aside and look at the evidence for so called 'AGW'. There is none, pure and simple. NASA cannot be relied upon for info it claimed that the hottest year on record was 1998 and that 9 of the top 10 hottest years were in the 1990's. This was proved to be false and that 1934 was the hotest year on record and that several other years in the 1930's were also the hottest. Recently NASA published satellite and weather station temprature data, the satellite data showed cooling and the weather station data showed a slight warming - ,http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/12/31/nasa-vs-nasa-which-temperature-anomaly-map-to-believe/ which do you accept? NASA like most scientific establishments is full of contrary views unfortunately one side of the argument has captured the debate and the it's difficult for the other viewpoint to make its point.
Another point is that to get CO2 reductions to a point where there would be a meaningful reduction in levels will require the shutting down of our economies and with that taking our lifestyles back to the early 1900's. This would cause far more death and destruction that a (possible) small rise in temprature. Remember that the earth was warmer in the medieval warm period than now. The Vikings were in Greenland and they grew grapes in the north of England. Then things went cold again the Thames froze over for many years in the 1700's. The point is that climate change is natural and the best thing we can do is to adapt, not throw Billions of dollars at crooks and third world dictators. Even if every person in Australia died today and the entire country shut down China would replace our emissions in three months, our absence would have no effect what so ever. I urge you to consider the evidence for and against and make up your mind on that evidence, if the evidence changes reconsider things, Have a look at my post re the Sceptics Handbook, if you can find flaws in their evidence and reasoning let me know or let them know. Good Luck with things.
As for Vietnam I really haven't studied the issue too much but it does seem odd that after the Allies left there was a bloodbath and millions left as quick as they could. Perhaps Communism was worth fighting against, for many Vietnamese life was worse under the Commos than it was before.
You want us to rein in our 'Extravagant Lifestyles' why? If you choose to live one way why should you force your choice on others? That seems rather dictatorial to me. There is no evidence that we are running out of oil or any other resource. What happens is that as resources get harder to find the price goes up and new reserves are found or that the price increase makes othe options viable. What put the Whaling industry out of much of its business was that Parrafin from oil replaced whale oil in lamps. That caused a great drop in demand for whales. What will happen with oil is that if it does become scarce the price will rise at certain points in the price increase then Solar and other technologies may become viable. If Solar and Wind were really viable without massive goverbment subsidies then people would invest in them. There is no real investment because it doesn't make sense at this point in time.
Again Best Wishes and Good Luck.