I don’t want to be morbid, but I’m starting to lose confidence that we can find a balanced exchange of ideas any longer. That the patently unproven and risky hypothesis that humans, are creating environmental change on a global scale, is now becoming a point of agreement by some of those arguing on the left and right about how to deal with “global warming”, is alarming.
In a pair of pieces presented in the Wall Street Journal today, Ian McEwan and BjÃ¸rn Lomborg present differing perspectives on how to deal with global warming. But they are not the typical side of the discussion we’ve had in the past. The perspectives shown here are answers to the question “What should Obama do about Global Warming?”.
McEwan, well known for his works of fiction, extends those skills to the front of the Weekend Journal section. He expresses this as one of the most important things that must be acted on immediately. That after four paragraphs saying absolutely nothing about the topic itself (McEwan’s piece appears to be about twice as long as Lomborg’s). His approach is the same that our savvy liberal media uses to con us into believing theories and falsehoods as fact: just keep repeating the lies over and over again. Worse yet, McEwan’s piece is filled with anecdotal explanations, totally irrelevant (and emotional) metaphors, and contradictory arguments. For instance, while at one point pressing the criticality of shutting down any attempts to expand drilling for oil in the US, he later contends the need for aggressive spending on alternative energy sources is driven partly by the limited availability of these resources from undesirable foreign interests. His repeated assertions that Obama must act in the most extreme manner is numbing, and the piece is entirely and inappropriately fatalistic.
Lomborg, a Professor at the Copenhagen Business School, makes any opposition to McEwan sound indiscriminate and childish. He doesn’t contradict what we know to be false conclusions about temperature changes but instead accepts them. His argument callously asserts that the estimated impacts of global warming don’t justify spending money on alternative energy… but rather that by spending money on other equally non-sustainable (we’d have to pour money in year after year) programs to provide food to needy countries. Lomborg states that while global warming is real and impacts temperatures and water levels, these supposed affects of humans are manageable. If a case is going to be made to think through the budgeting angle on this effectively, it will require a little more tact than to just say that the expected impacts of global warming are acceptable.
Granted, both writers make some excellent points. Anyone who has lived large urban areas with heavy smog content probably appreciates any improvements that are made to the localized air quality by improved auto emission standards over the years. I would personally love to live in a world where my car effectively runs on electricity and my home on solar energy. Clearly, putting some substantive money into the R&D for these technologies may yield some real value in the future. However, this is the domain of business. Government can certainly put constraints in place to force business to go this direction (as it has over the years with emissions standards, safety technologies, etc.), but the best way to get there is through consumer demand. And the right kind of consumer demand.
Frankly, we are already on the way to addressing this with automobiles. I have every reason to believe that within 10 years, all of the major auto manufacturers will have hybrid vehicles as the standard configuration. As with any other major shift in technology, there is need for a trial period, which we are fully engaged in right now. As the last of the major bugs are worked out, the price of these models will drop due to volume acquisition of parts, and everyone will have had someone else tell them how great the cars are. If we’re on the right path, why would we do any different?
I have yet to see real evidence that human behavior is impacting the planet on the scale that the left continues to harp on. And furthermore, our big blue ball is just one of several locales in the Solar System that are experiencing similar issues with planetary temperature fluctuations… shall we believe that we are somehow impacting other planets now as well? I think we can stop the extreme fear mongering and start finding the out the truth.
So, all of that is well and good, but we have one key here that is lacking and needs attention. Our focus in the Conservative Sphere tends to be contradicting the contentions of the Global Warming Shouters. While that is necessary, it is even more important that we establish a solid position on what should be done to act as good stewards of the planet. McEwan began his article by poking fun at both George Berkeley (after whom UC Berkeley is named) and his philosophy of “immaterialism”, and his antagonist Samuel Johnson, who tried to contradict the theories that the physical world did not exist by kicking a large rock. We truly live in a very real world, where the consequences of our actions on a large scale (say, 4+ billion times day) can have some impact. We’ve seen the impact over the years as whales, bald eagles, and other such animals have been hunted to near extinction. We’ve watched cities become cesspools as air pollution from various sources, litter, and toxic waste have endangered the lives of the people living there. Even here in Iowa, we have had impacts from hog confinement and chemical treatment runoffs getting into our rivers and streams.
We need an overarching model that helps ensure the quality of the air, food, water, and living space on our planet for this and future generations. We also need to ensure we can provide affordable energy now and in the future. Health characteristics of local communities should be easy to find out through some type of standard evaluation. Regardless of what we think the cause may be, we should monitor the state of global changes in the weather and ensure that we have plans to address issues such as increased hurricane activity in coastal areas, land erosion in areas such as Cape Cod, and even changes in migrating patterns of air and sea life. These may at some point impact various populations and industries in ways that we should not be dealing with in an emergency fashion.
Let’s take care of the planet. Let’s do it right.