Wednesday, August 28, 2019

the environment: this dude understands me

Global warming (or as it's been less specifically rebranded these days, climate change) may or may not be a serious problem depending on (1) how severe you think the problem currently is, (2) how quickly you think the problem is worsening, (3) how much you think the problem is caused directly by humans as opposed to solar activity (or other factors), and (4) how soon you think we will reach a point of no return—which some might argue we have already passed.

I think there's room for a meaningful discussion when it comes to global warming/climate change; I'm not a denialist, but I also think the problem has been utterly politicized and blown far out of proportion by the media. Movie stars and other luminaries who preach the imminent destruction of the planet nevertheless travel about in their private jets, expanding their already-outrageous carbon footprints (if you think carbon footprints are a meaningful thing and not a clever way to deny plants the food they breathe) and proving what hypocrites they are. For these rich and privileged folks, it must be fun to preach eco-austerity to the masses while practicing none of it themselves. They should all be placed on an island and forced to either live off the land for five whole years or kill and eat each other in that time.

But despite whatever significance change/warming (charming?) might have, I've long maintained on this blog that the greater threat, the more immediate and provably visible concern, is the raw amount of pollution we produce, primarily in the form of on-the-ground and in-the-water garbage, chemicals, and free-floating atmospheric particulate matter* in places like Los Angeles, Beijing, and Mexico City. You'd think that international recycling efforts might be one legitimate attempt at relieving stress on the environment, but along comes Canadian YouTuber JJ McCullough to explain that, nope, recycling is basically just a scam, and that pollution is nonetheless a more urgent issue than climate change. This dude gets me. Meanwhile, watch the video below and weep manful tears.

*The snarky among you will want to throw this in my face by noting that particulate matter is a major factor in global warming—duh! To that, I respond that I take Freeman Dyson's conjecture seriously, to wit: it could be that warming is actually a patchy, localized phenomenon occurring in some regions of the planet but not in others. At this point, we don't have the data to say for sure. So places like LA, Beijing, and Mexico City might very well be experiencing local warming because of their air pollution, but since we're about to enter a solar minimum, I think it's better to wait five years and see whether the sun affects temps/climate globally. If it does, then that data will erode the AGW (anthropogenic global warming) thesis. Dyson also notes that there's no objective reason, at this point, to believe global warming, if it's real, is automatically a bad thing: would the thawing of the Canadian tundra—opening up millions of acres of real estate and allowing myriad heretofore frozen biomes to grow and flourish—really be so horrible? (That's Dyson's example, not mine.) What's more, thinkers other than Dyson who do think AGW is real also argue that the current warming may actually be staving off an overdue ice age—which probably would be a good thing by most human measures. Wouldn't it? Or do we want an ice age?

1 comment:

John Mac said...

You have articulated my views on "climate change" with nearly 100% accuracy. And said it far better than I ever could.

Climate change has become like a religion to some, and trying to argue with the zealots is pointless. I have a friend who actually is a scientist saying the science is "settled". Science is never f'n settled! New evidence comes along and you have to re-evaluate. Nope, that would be heresy. When I point out that some of the data purportedly supporting warming has been shown to be inaccurate or even fraudulent (i.e. Michael Mann's hockey stick) I'm called ignorant or worse. Any truths challenging their religion is simply ignored.

I actually do believe in climate change. I might even concede that man-made pollutants can have a long term detrimental impact. But the Earth's climate has always been changing. To date, no one has explained why anything happening now is different than the medieval warming period (which was actually a good thing!). Many things impact climate, especially the sun. To discount those effects and blame it all on mankind is foolish and shortsighted. I also wonder if maybe we haven't lucked into avoiding the ice age science was promising back in the 1970s.