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Monday, February 5, 2007

#30 Predictable Failures of Global Warming

Future generations will not remember us for what we did for them; rather they will remember us for what we failed to do for ourselves.

Have we achieved a moral high ground and cultural superiority that has allowed us to concern ourselves not with our problems, but with the potential problems of the future? Are we so inclined to believe that future generations will be incapable of helping themselves to the point that we must sacrifice our weak, our poor and our disadvantaged today in order to “save” the future? With our selective amnesia we have relegated ourselves to ignoring the real problems that face our planet and instead focusing our time and resources on the “potential” problems of the future.

Global warming theorists, and those who follow their lead, are in the inevitable position of being the most likely to promote the continued death of the underprivileged and underrepresented societies. They are the most willing to believe in the fallacy and incompetence of man, and are most likely to conclude that man will, by the very nature of existence, destroy the planet.

The premise behind global warming is that in the future, due to human lifestyles and consumption rates now, we will irrevocably harm the earth. The assumption is the brainchild of global warming theorists who maintain that the future of the world is doomed because of the burning of fossil fuels, which is leading to a rise in CO2 emissions, which is causing a rise in global temperatures. These theorists believe that the warming of the globe will ultimately cause a catastrophic climate change that will lead to hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people, suffering the consequences. We are our own messengers and the message is loud and clear: we are going to destroy the globe because of our reckless lifestyle. These are the doomsday warnings that the global warming theorists are bringing to the rest of us.

Why am I under the impression that these global warming theorists are hastening the destruction of the planet? Is it not their hysteria that has alarmed the rest of the world to the dangers of human consumption? Or, as they would like us to believe, are they in fact providing a tremendous service to mankind by alarming us to the dangers of global warming and therefore helping us to overcome the inevitable dangers? In a perfect world, perhaps yes, but have the global warming theorists conveniently forgotten about the true perils facing our world today? Have they forgotten about the 10 million children who die yearly of preventable diseases? Have they forgotten about the global scourge of HIV/AIDS and its 40 million sufferers? I maintain that they have--but have you?

If we are placing “global warming,” and the unsubstantiated fears at the top of the list, then we have in fact forgotten about them. We have given up on the unglamorous and challenging task of facing these problems, and instead shifted our attention to wasting precious resources in a vain attempt to solve an imagined problem. In the process, we are left only to hope that our efforts will afford us the pains and guilt of failing to prevent the real disasters that are unfolding on a daily basis.

Which touches on a sensitive topic: Who is actually worried about global warming? Certainly a child in sub-Saharan Africa who has lost both her parents to disease--and will herself eventually succumb to AIDS--is not worrying about global warming. Similarly, are the wealthy nations with their vast resources and innovative technologies really concerned about their future generations? Are they not confident in the resourcefulness and wealth afforded to their off-spring? In fact, global warming theorists are, ironically enough, more concerned with their impact as wealthy nations on the poor, developing world of the future.

It is not only our responsibility to save and protect future generations, but our responsibility and moral duty to save and protect our current generation.

Global warming theorists will have you believe that the problems facing the world today are by no means comparable to the eventual problems that global warming might bring. Unfortunately, their insistence has paid off, and public opinion has shifted, making the fight against global warming a top priority. The money, resources, and international public opinion needed in the fight against the real problems facing the world will slowly be reallocated to the imaginary problem of global warming. The consequences of these actions will have severe and long lasting affects on the disadvantaged societies of the world. These callous and insouciant attitudes represent a failure of mankind akin to the atrocities committed by the most tyrannical despots and sadistic leaders.

- This article was written for and provided to the Weekend Economist by Westbrook Sullivan

2 comments:

Airw0lf said...

If we believe that global warming is contributed to by human industrial activity (as all those concerned about global warming constantly remind us), then the question of global warming should really be considered as ONE of the challenges to sustainable development.

Global warming is not THE environmental problem facing us, nor is it necessarily THE problem facing mankind in general. It is part of the problem of sustainable development. In other words, how do we continue to develop industrially without polluting rivers, cutting down trees, destroying important parts of the ecosystem, creating soil erosion, etc. Global warming fits into this category of problem.

Eliminating global warming is no good if we run out of arable land, or clean water supplies. Sure, we should do our best to counteract CO2 emissions (e.g., by planting trees to act as "carbon sinks") or reduce them altogether, but it is nothing if it is not part of an integrated approach to sustainable development aimed at reducing our environmental footprint.

So sure, anti-global warming hysteria will not help save poor african children in the short or even medium-long term. However, some of the solutions to poverty in Africa that are touted are often every bit as dangerous as focussing on global warming to the exclusion of all else. For example, the petrochemical industry in Nigeria has caused considerable pollution problems there. Sure, it is creating jobs and helping reduce poverty, but it is also causing a lot of environmental damage that will be very difficult to reverse.

Having said that, my personal viewpoint is that the sooner humanity learns to colonise other parts of the solar system, using other celestial bodies for resources such as water, helium-3 or iron, the better it will be for everyone. This will help reduce our dependence on earth for all of our resources, and shift a lot of the "load" on our little planet (And this is without thinking about all the technological benefits of real space exploration.)

But if we insist on remaining on earth, an integrated approach to sustainable development is a must.

Anonymous said...

This commentary makes the false assumption that concern, action, and philanthropy are "all or none," single-issue propositions. It is a specious argument.

Of course AIDS, hunger, malaria, diarrhea (the major killer in the 3rd world), human rights, etc. etc. are important issues, and they will continue to be.

Creating a false dichotomy to discredit concerns about global warming is as illogical and misleading as dividing humans into catch-all categories like "liberal" and "conservative."