Climate change debated

 My SUV reply didn’t sit well with my Global Cooling coorespondent:


Apparently you referred to me as a skeptic of global warming.  Change happens.  The climate has changed.  Apparently it is changing.  We humans have evidence of climate change that has occurred.  However, I suggest that no one knows how the climate is going to change.  I also suggest that no one knows whether or to what extent human activity is causing climate change.  Lastly, I suggest that we humans aren’t going to “change our evil ways” (relative to how our activity might affect the climate) unless and until we are on the verge of inconvenience, discomfort, or pain.

I was recently involved in an e-mail exchange with a friend who expressed criticism of especially large and fuel inefficient recreational four-wheel-drive trucks.  Obviously, such trucks and their consumption of fuel can reasonably be regarded as unnecessary, and I didn’t suggest otherwise.  However, this friend travels several thousand miles each fall, to hunt pheasants in South Dakota, which, I suggested to him, also involves unnecessary consumption of fuel.  I got the impression that he was irritated by my argument.  Regarding the unnecessary consumption of apparently non-renewable energy, probably almost all of us humans have an ox that we don’t want gored. 

No longer a skeptic?  Indeed, change does happen. Now you are merely skeptical that anyone can predict how the change will proceed or to what extent we humans have contributed to it. Fair enough.
As for me, I’m not so fatalistic. You believe that we humans will only change our climate altering ways when we are on “the verge of inconvenience, discomfort or pain.” Well, that’s one economic expectation although the fellow who did the most to contribute to this model, Adam Smith, also apparently believed that there were some things people should do even if his invisible hand worked against them. In this he was motivated by a religious sense of duty. I’ll bet Smith would have approved of energy conservation.
As for your duck hunting friend there is a word for such people – “hypocrite.”  Even though I drive a gas stingy little Prius I too like to travel which makes me a hypocrite as well. Here’s my ethical problem. On the one hand I know that travel is good for the economy while at the same time it uses up non renewable energy. To my credit I’m not interested in ignoring this conundrum like a fatalist. Instead I would prefer to find ways to travel while limiting energy consumption.

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