Thursday, March 19, 2009
A Working Man's Philosophy of Climate Change
Sadly, and hockey stick graphs notwithstanding, past and present human influence on the earth’s climate, despite what you have been told has not been proved to be anything more than marginal, if even that. CO2 is not a pollutant; it is, in fact, and always has been (just as you were taught), essential to life in all its forms. CO2 levels in the earth's atmosphere have been considerably higher in the past than they are now, and will continue to vary over time, with or without our help, into the infinite and indefinite future. CO2 is a minor contributor among the naturally occurring greenhouse gases, far-and-away over-shadowed by ordinary water vapor. Sequestering carbon in the hope that in so doing, the earth's climate can be “returned to normal” is a fool's errand and is wasteful of both labor and capital. The au courant notion that worldwide climate stability is amenable to, or governable by human tinkering and tooling is a nefarious and hubristic political fiction, perhaps even an example of the persistence of magical thinking in the modern mind. Just when exactly, was the earth's climate ever "perfect", or in a steady state?
As the Greek philosopher Protagoras posited that "man is the measure of all things", so perhaps it is inevitable that people living today would assume that the condition of the climate in the time in which they live is ideal or perfect in some way. The earth and its climate, however, know nothing of our conceits. A walk under the stars on a dark night, or a trip to the new International Tsunami Museum in Thailand might be a helpful reminder of the actual scale of the natural world and our relative place in it. A proper scientific double-blind test to determine the true influence of human life on the earth's climate can never be performed, and therefore any and all estimates of our impact on the global climate can never be anything more than speculation.
What you are left with then are cherry-picked statistical correlations and earnest but evolving (and at any given time, spurious) computer models to make the case for AGW, "climate change" or whatever you care to call the phenomenon (assuming, of course, that there is such a phenomenon). As correlation does not prove causality, the underlying philosophical assumptions leave us no choice but to conclude that it is no more, nor any less, than our own received, but unexamined ontological opinions on the nature of man and of man's place in the natural world that leads us to nod mindlessly along with the breathlessly delivered reports of the elitist and anti-democratic hacks at NASA, the UN, the EU and the universities on the purported looming climate apocalypse. Ipso facto then, it is our lazy and non-committal approach to the central philosophical questions of life, and not science, that ends up determining or enabling everything regarding current climate change doctrine and economic policies....whether we care to admit it or not.
And comments are most welcome.