“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”
– Danish physicist, Neils Bohr
A few posts ago I attempted to list the top environmental stories of the last decade: the Doha development agenda stall, the 2008 economic downturn, Al Gore’s Nobel prize, and others, ending with the Credit Card Reform Act of 2009. This month we’ll consider the future environmental topics in this column even though forecasting is iffy.
Look for responses to curb global warming to fall short of targets. After all, some folks like Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute call for cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 80% by 2020. Park your car now. Walk everywhere. No open fires.
As the shortfall looms larger, we should see more discussions revolving around geo-engineering, mammoth engineering projects to counteract changes in our atmosphere’s chemistry such as afforestation of the Sahara; and adapting to changes brought about by warmer climate, such as diking against higher sea levels. Current plans center on limiting GHG emissions through carbon taxes, a tax assessed on how much carbon a fuel contains; or cap and trade systems, or a payment system for forestation or forest retention, or other carbon-limiting schemes.
Our earth’s climate has been significantly higher (medieval warm period) and significantly lower (little ice age) than present within just the past 1000 years. Prior to man’s influence on the planet, climate has been much warmer and much cooler and CO2 levels increased and decreased accordingly. “Past climate changes, sea-level changes and catastrophes are written in stone,” writes geologist, Ian Plimer. Plimer, who has some 60 academic papers to his name, continues, “The [United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] process is related to environmental activism, politics and opportunism.” In his estimation, we are “currently in an ice age.”
The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) would be good to remember the words of philosophy professor Alston Chase,
“When the search for truth is confused with political advocacy, the pursuit of knowledge is reduced to the quest for power.”
Update (5 Apr 2010): Greenpeace seems to be getting frustrated and some want to kick some energy-wastrel butt.
If you’re one of those who have spent their lives undermining progressive climate legislation, bankrolling junk science, fueling spurious debates around false solutions, and cattle-prodding democratically-elected governments into submission, then hear this:
We know who you are. We know where you live. We know where you work.
Come, let us reason together…Now where did I put my tire iron?
Michael Crichton’s techno-fable, State of Fear, is looking pretty prophetic.