During the Easter holidays I often find myself at the dinner table with friends and family, discussing some of the current topics that are in the news. I always take pleasure in convincing relatives that whatever you hear on the news is often just one simplified version of someone else's truth, dumbed down and packed into whatever time slot was available for that particular news item. Global warming is a popular topic that is in the news often, and one I am particularly fond of discussing.
I always find it amusing to see a global warming advocate foaming at the mouth as they repeat the same story over and over again. Carbon dioxide is the big killer, the one cause for our imminent demise as a species and the planet as a whole. Never mind that there are greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide, gases that are more potent by several magnitudes. Never mind that just about every living organism generates carbon dioxide and has been doing so for billions of years. Never mind that a forest fire, or a mild volcanic eruption, generates more carbon dioxide than we do as a species in a year. Never mind that we only have accurate worldwide temperature data for about the last 150 years at best. Never mind that the Earth's average temperature has fluctuated enormously throughout history with the first few billion years not even a car, or a fossil fuel burning energy plant, in sight.
So in light of all this it is clear to me that this is just another way for the politicians, and other interest groups, to be able to steer the public into a certain direction. Fear of imminent demise or the risk of your children not having a future has always been a great tool in the hands of politics to get the public to do their bidding. There is an abundance of examples of this in recent history. It is especially effective when dressed up in pseudo science which the public will take for fact and thus act accordingly. Who is going to protest if a little extra tax is going to guarantee you or your children a better future? Right? Fear is a great motivator.
How about instead of wasting all our time whining and living in fear of something that even global-warming advocates have said is 'irreversible' we make an effort to reduce pollution and hence improve the environment? Many up and coming 3rd world countries are producing enormous amounts of waste, which, if left unchecked, pose a severe threat to the environment. Even if human-contributed greenhouse gases are aiding global-warming, what can we do about it in the short term? Effectively nothing, really. Alternative energy sources are either still in development but are by default economically unfeasible and years away from being so, which puts fossil fuel resources in incredibly high demand. The politicians are mostly to blame for this with their narrow minded and short sighted views. Remember that the vast majority of energy we rely on for transportation, food, water, communication, and running the PC you use to flame the author of this column has to come from burning fossil fuels.
So I am sure we can all agree the world is warming up, most likely caused by a natural global temperature cycle that takes 100s, 1000s or even billions of years and to which we as humans are not really a contributing factor, nor of any influence if we wanted to. But the fact that we are in need of an alternative, less-polluting source of energy which does not rely on consuming the Earth's natural resources is not up for debate. However, in the absence of any solutions that make economical or logical sense, or the politicians stubbornly refusing to fight the real cause of the problem, I will make my own contribution. This simply means I will continue to drive my fuel-efficient car, make sure I turn off the lights when I leave a room, will not have my PC running all day, turn the TV off when I am not watching it and generally do the kinds of energy-conserving things that we should be emphasizing. Common sense should always be a better motivator than fear, and even politicians with an agenda must realize that, even if that fact is not as economically attractive to them.