Global warming isn’t our fault. It’s natural, and paleoclimatologists have identified numerous instances of it in the past three million years, since the rising of Central America changed our ocean currents and destabilized earth’s climate. We’re speeding it up somewhat, but to claim that we could reverse it is just not true. We have to plan, not play politics.
All the blaming of mankind for this problem has made us into global warming ostriches. This is not a new species of feathered friend especially adapted for warmer weather. It isn’t Big Bird, it’s us.
Here’s another example of the same thing. For years, there have been researchers who say that AIDS isn’t caused by HIV. One of the loudest proponents of this theory is the head of an African nation who obviously wants to save face on behalf of his people. And there is some evidence to back this up–but there’s much more evidence that HIV does cause AIDS, so we’d better try to take precautions against HIV infection. The bulk of the research points in that direction, so that’s what we follow when it comes to public health policy.
In a similar fashion, certain pundits regularly come up with the theory that global warming isn’t real. Some of these people run oil and gas companies, or accept political contributions from them, so they may have special reasons for saying this, just like that African leader. Others sincerely believe these assertions.
And, like the HIV/AIDS question, there is some evidence to back this up, but what’s most important is that there is much more evidence to back up the theory that an excess of CO2 emissions is causing a greenhouse effect, leading to global warming.
Fingers are pointed, and a promise is made: if only we clean up our act, we’ll be saved. This causes many of us to just keep our heads in the sand like ostriches when it comes to global warming. We’d like to believe the minority who say it isn’t in our future, because we’re sick of the guilt. We don’t want to go without air conditioning and SUVs, despite the fact that most of the world still does. We don’t want to be made to feel guilty because we?re lucky enough to live in the richest country in the history of mankind. We want to enjoy our luck, not be ashamed of it.
When these feelings come up, it’s important to realize that it’s not necessary to feel guilty when you accept the facts about global warming. Global warming is part of a natural earth cycle. Human beings developed on this planet at a time when the Earth was unusually cool. Now the planet is warming up again, as part of its natural cycle. No matter what we do, this is going to happen, and probably there will be another ice age afterward as well.
It’s true that a small part of this warming cycle is being accelerated by greenhouse gas emissions. That’s the part we can change and that’s why we’re being exhorted to conserve, to use wind power, etc. We can help, but we probably can never help enough to reverse the natural process.
So is it even worth trying?
Well, in a word, yes. We can plan for it just like we plan for hurricanes and build tornado shelters. We know it’s coming because nature is sending it our way. So let’s get ready.
We might be able to buy ourselves some time if we act wisely now. We could study agriculture and be ready to plant food crops in new places when the old farming areas turn into deserts. We could help the populations of third world countries figure out how to survive on something other than sustenance farming so that they don’t starve by the millions when the weather warms up a few degrees. We could shore up our coastlines, so large parts of our cities don’t become permanently flooded, and try to find some solutions for the island nations that are destined to disappear under the ocean in 50 years.
We live in an era when the corporate CEO style of doing business has been adopted by the federal government. This involves planning ahead only a few years–just long enough to cash in your stock options and retire. In the past, family businesses wanted to stay intact so they could pass on something to their kids; these days business only cares about keeping their stockholders happy during the next quarter. The federal government doesn’t want to plan past the current 4 years, when the mess they’ve made can be handed over to the next administration.
Unlike the feds and CEOs, most of us care greatly about the future, because we’ve got children and grandchildren. We want them to be as lucky as we’ve been–maybe more. If we can buy some time by making the right decisions now, we may be able to plan for a warmer future that works. And there’s nothing like action to stave off guilt.
Global warming guilt doesn’t help anybody, any more than pretending that this natural cycle isn’t happening, or that we are entirely responsible for it. Intelligent planning for the inevitable is the only sensible course of action.
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