Global Warming has become for many, including myself, white noise. Some like it hot, some like it cold, and some really don’t care one way or the other. Because I don’t like wading through quagmires of vehemently stated and often poorly supported opinions, I have, for the most part, avoided the topic of global warming (and by global warming I mean climate change). But I recently had the opportunity to come more to terms with my position on GW/CC which will, perhaps, give some direction to those of you who are still lost in the white noise.
The climate change debate seems to come down to three basic questions. If you want to start sorting through the quagmire, these are the questions you should be seeking answers for.
ONE: Is global warming actually occurring?
TWO: If so, are the current and/of imminent effects of global warming bad?
THREE: If so, what is the cause or causes of global warming and are they man made?
The importance of the first question is obvious, and you will unfortunately find multiple answers, but the purpose of this post is not to delve into those. The second question did not occur to me until recently. Most of the noise I had heard was about the dire effects global warming would have on ecology at large (killing off polar bears and flooding California, for example). I had never heard before about the increased fertility and growth rats of plants in a high CO2 environment (not to mention Canada and Siberia suddenly becoming habitable). So, it is a question worth looking into.
The third one is significant mainly because a lot of the hype we’ve been hearing about global warming is the government making policies and sanctions to prevent human contribution to global warming, but if we are not among its chief causes, these policies and sanctions become purposeless and the potential economic harm they could inflict on third world countries need not be risked.
As we explore the answers to the above questions, there are few things that we should keep in mind. Since I seem to be on a roll with the number three, let’s have three of them.
1. THE SCIENCE…is limited. I mean this in two senses. First, that climate is a very complex issue that is affected by innumerable variables. Solar input, greenhouse gases (which are 95% water vapor), oceanic temperatures, land use, and on and on and on. I also think there are probably other climatic variables that we’re not even aware of yet that affect what the climate does in both the immediate and the far reaching future. Second, our scientific capabilities with which we observe our climate are very very young. The tools we are using to measure climate variables, effects and “causes” of any kind are recent developments. It is thus very difficult for me to put faith in our ability to measure trends since we have less than one hundred years of data at our disposal, and in many cases, less than fifty.
As an example, if an alien landed in Minnesota to stay for a year, he may become alarmed when the days get shorter and shorter and the weather gets colder. He may, given the data he is observing, fear that the days will continue to get shorter until we are in an eternal night and in an increasingly cold climate. However, he is only working on several months worth of data. He is actually in a cycle but he can’t see it yet.
And so, I am hesitant to react to what science has “discovered”. Exploration takes place before discovery and I think we are still in the rudimentary stages of exploration.
2. THE POWERS THAT BE…are not always pure. Again, I speak of two things in this. First, governmental and even scientific powers have a lot at stake in the climates games, particularly money and power. Eco-friendliness has become an industry all its own; companies are capitalizing on the opportunity to appeal to the consumer’s environmental conscientiousness; the government has opportunities to seize control over industry areas and so on. While many motives in this may be pure, it would also be wise of us to probe deeper into the movers and shakers on these issues. What do they stand to gain?
3. THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE ISSUE…can be very large. This is true both in the case of global warming causing cataclysmic natural disasters or government policies bankrupting already impoverished nations whose economies cannot withstand environmental sanctions. We need to consider the consequences of our (based on #1, shortsighted) actions carefully before leaping on board the panic bandwagon.
And finally, there’s really no reason to panic over climate change anyway, regardless of what the truth is. If you believe in a God that created the world (as I do), we can rest in the fact that He is much bigger than the climate and our mistakes. He can handle it and He is able to bring about His purpose. And if you don’t believe in a God that created the world and that we’re all just here by chance, then maybe climate change is the cosmos’s next step in advancing our evolutionary “progress” (in quotation marks because I think losing our tails and coming out of the trees would be a step backwards) or eliminating us so that the evolutionary process may continue unhindered. In either case, sit back and relax. God (or the cosmos if you prefer) has the whole world in His hands.
Oh, and apparently the polar bear populations has increased threefold in the last decade or so. Just in case anyone was worried.