Thoughts on global warming - Journal of Omnifarious
Mar. 25th, 2007
01:38 pm - Thoughts on global warming
In Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth he presents a very compelling graph showing a correlation between global temperature and atmospheric CO2 levels. The only problem of course is the direction of cause and effect. Do higher temperatures typically cause CO2 levels to rise, or is it higher CO2 levels causing temperature to rise? Or maybe it's a positive feedback loop.
And since the correlation is so clear, the fact we don't know the cause and effect relationship for sure is one of the major points of people who think that human caused global warming is a myth. But I think this is a very silly point. In some sense it isn't because they're right, but in another sense it is because it doesn't matter that much if they're right or not.
It doesn't matter because we don't have enough evidence to really make a clear and incontrovertible case one way or the other, and we only have one Earth. Personally I do not want to run an experiment on the global climate to test the theories. I want to adopt a conservative approach that leads to our climate being OK in the long run whichever theory prevails. And that approach requires that we reduce the levels of atmospheric CO2 in case the pessimistic theory is the right one.
Besides, reducing atmospheric CO2 levels is just good economic sense in the long run anyway. Overall we need to have an economy that recycles everything except for energy. That's called being sustainable. It's quite clear now that any of the various resource using parts of our economy can easily run the planet out of whatever resource it uses in pretty short order if steps aren't taken to make sure that there is a cycle by which the resources are re-created from the waste.
Right now, burning fossil fuels is not such a cycle. The ecosystem has a means by which atmospheric CO2 gets recycled back into living things. It's a robust cycle that has handled many ups and downs. But right now we are very clearly overloading it quite severely. Atmospheric CO2 levels are skyrocketing. This is just not sustainable. The cycle needs to be closed.