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Man-Made Global Warming: the Greenification Continues, but What of the Truth?

December 13, 2009

I am by no means a hippie or any sort of eco-angel, but I have always been pro-environment. I heard the cries of those arguing the man-made global warming case and I enthusiastically jumped on the bandwagon. Numerous articles, books and videos later I was still quite happily perched on my green pedestal. Even if you found me tired, drunk, or depressed I would argue the green persuasion. The audacity of those who refused to make changes in their lives! Oh, and the Jeremy Clarksons of the world (call it hypocrisy, but I still love Top Gear)….

The thing is this… I am not a scientist. All I can do to make up my mind is read what is written and listen to what is said. As open-minded as I’ve always been and as diplomatic, I never really questioned the man-made global warming argument. We were taught about greenhouse gases and pollution already in elementary school, so it’s something I grew up believing in as ‘The Truth’… like gravity… or like religion for others. While I question many many things in life, I must admit that this is something that I never really examined; indeed I straight up, defensively (some might say blindly) refused to compromise on this.

As I listened to my mother today tell me about yet another amazing discovery (which I later emailed her the hoax-slayer article for… it’s a regular exchange we have), I thought about how easily she finds it to believe certain things and how unwilling she is to believe others. Oh… that sounds familiar. The thing is, we all do it. Whenever  we read something or listen to someone speak on something, our belief set and our previous experiences (things we’ve heard, been taught to believe, actually experienced, etc) will taint, if not outright colour, what we absorb from the source. In the simplest of phrases we can derive any number of meanings and levels of validation or dismissal.

Religion is the easiest example to give. Many of those who believe unequivocally in a god find even the mere hint of a questioning ludicrous. To a lesser degree, I guess, that’s how I felt too. I, however, have never shied away from a debate or discussion. Not to convince or convert, but merely to throw ideas around. When a belief is so entrenched in your system, however, it is sometimes difficult to see the forest for the trees, so to speak. I’m getting there though.

Recently, I had an argument with a bartender who said it was “all a bunch of crap”. Good god, he got me fired up and I shut him up well and good. Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t get irritated because we had opposing views or because he said that it was idiotic. Not at all. What irks me more than anything else, and the reason for my metaphorical slap session, is outspoken, adamant ignorance. This guy was a painter – a self-proclaimed artiste – who had not read or researched or listened to a thing on the subject outside of what one is exposed to simply by walking around in a city. Which is fine unless you think you know all the answers and start mouthing off about how stupid things are and how simply they could be rectified! I wish I could have recorded the conversation, I really do. To give you an example, this is the same individual who said (in response to the issue of over-population), and I quote, “It’s not a problem. We just need to move all the people from cities to uninhabited land”. Yeah… it’s that simple. There were no further suggestions or thoughts when I asked who should move, who should decide who moves if people don’t want to relocate, how the relocation would be facilitated and incentivised, how infrastructure and industry would be affected, etc. Have an opinion, please do… but for the love of all that is good, listen to what others have to say and don’t be arrogant when you know nothing about what’s being discussed.

Anyhow, my conclusion is and has always remained that even if you don’t believe in man-made global warming, there are most definitely certain aspects of ‘the fight’ that require less scientific knowledge/expertise that clearly are worth following through on irrespective of your stance. Is the world warming because of us? Are the sea levels really rising? I honestly don’t know. The scientists say ‘yes’, the scientists say ‘no’. I do know that there are chemicals that are harmful to both us and the environment*. I know that the destruction of various habitats and interference with ecosystems, from forests to coral reefs, is not a good thing for anyone. Littering is ugly and the killing off of species (or letting them die off, if you prefer) is not down in books.

As a last breath, I have admittedly said, “You know what? Even if this all turns out to have been for the wrong reasons… if there isn’t any warming really, or we aren’t responsible for it… is it really such a bad thing for us to believe in this and take action in something that has us living lives with less of an impact on the planet?”. I still believe that for the most part… partially because I believe that unless you light a fire under the butts of most people, they’re not going to budge. It’s that whole, ‘Eh! Let someone else deal with it. It’ll be fine’ mentality. On the other hand, if this is all just one big political/economical Climate-gate, as people are calling it, do we really want to be lied to? Would the result justify the (potential) lie? What if all the man-made global warming arguments are true? Can we act in time? What if they’re not true? How long till we’re told the truth (if that were the truth)? Would we still move forward in a more environmentally friendly way of living or not bother? Too many questions, not enough answers.

While our beliefs and opinions can and should continue to be challenged and should evolve, every moment we are making decisions about how we choose to live our lives and based on which unproven beliefs/’truths’ these decisions are founded on is up to each of us. Do we risk playing the fool and go full-on green? Do we laugh in the face of the environmentalists and politicians and risk irreversible damage to our home? Or do we tread the path somewhere down the middle and worry that this response may be too moderate irrespective of which side is right? We’ve all seen Al Gore’s movie (not saying that it’s the best argument from the ‘man-made global warming camp’, but it certainly is accessible). Below are links to a recent five-part argument from the opposition, Lord Christopher Monckton (former science advisor to ex-PM Margaret Thatcher). I enjoyed it, hope you do too!

Lord Christopher Monckton on the Michael Coren Show: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 & Part 5.

Finally, I’d like to leave you with what I believe the best advice is… a message from a science teacher who, despite his geeky presentation and somewhat simplified arguments, makes a damn good point. I hope you watch it!


*Okay, I’m not sure about every chemical… again, how do we know if what we are told is true? In the case of chemicals, surely it’s best to play it safe, right? On the other hand, listen to Lord Monckton’s point about DDT, as an example, and then google DDT yourself; opposing arguments everywhere! Damn politics… well, we’ve got to pick something to believe in.

N

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. TSwain permalink
    February 2, 2010 04:15

    Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again – taking your feeds too now, Thanks.

  2. February 3, 2010 00:09

    There’s good info here. I did a search on the topic and found most people will agree with your blog. Keep up the good work mate!

    Robert Shumake

  3. February 15, 2010 20:00

    Thanks guys! Much appreciated.

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