Heat and Hubris

Earth_On_StoveGlobal warming is a hot topic.  Everyone is worried about it, or so you would think by watching the evening news.

If the earth gets a lot warmer, cities might flood, farmlands will lose their ability to grow food and we’ll probably have big bugs in Chicago like folks have in the Amazon.

If the earth gets a lot cooler, equally problematic things will happen.  Either way we’re in big trouble.

So…people are calling for action:  reduce carbon emissions, shut down coal mines, get power from windmills, live more simply, cultivate gardens and don earth shoes.

The war on manmade global warming is declared.  Generals in the battle are the President, the Pope, scores of world leaders, many scientists and most of the world’s news media.

The accepted gospel is that the earth is warming and man caused it…so if we stop what we’re doing the warming will stop.  End of debate.  Case closed.  Only a fool would disagree.

OK…I don’t want to be a fool.  I’m not a scientist.  I am, however, a natural skeptic when I see oceans of political correctness flowing in the same direction.

Thus, I have my doubts that we are waging the right war.

Stop_global_warming_sign_in_blizzard_-_February_10,_2010_blizzardIt doesn’t take a degree in advanced googling to learn that ever since God plopped the earth into the universe its climate has been changing.  The world gets hotter.  The world gets colder.  Sometimes it is a welcoming place for giant lizards – other times for wooly elephants.  Most of the changes came about ages before man was doing anything that could reasonably be claimed to impact climate.

And I think we ought to ask ourselves if that still isn’t the case.  Has our love for the internal-combustion engine caused the earth to warm?  Perhaps – but as much as changes in the sun’s radiant output, orbital changes of the planets, changes in ocean currents or natural cycles of heating and cooling of our planet’s core?

We humans are an arrogant lot.  Thus, if the earth is changing, we believe we caused it and we can change it.  But what if we’re wrong?  What if shutting down every power plant in the world and trading automobiles for bicycles doesn’t change a thing – except lots of people freeze in the winter and have sore knees from pedaling?

In other words, what if we really don’t have much influence over nature and the future climate?  Just in case…we might need a Plan B that says:  “We puny people can’t stand in the way of what Mother Nature will do, so we need to think about how we can adapt to a different world.”

Instead of shutting down power plants, we might think about where everyone living on a flood plain might move.

Instead of banning cars, we might find a place for retired New Yorkers to move when it starts snowing in Miami.

Instead of destroying our economy, we might do everything we can to make it stronger so we can help people who will be in need when the climate changes.

In the Hippocratic Oath, doctors pledge first and foremost to do no harm.  When confronted with a sick patient, they first much determine what is wrong and the proper course of treatment.  They can’t just start cutting and drugging.

If we believe we humans are the doctors who can deal with the changes in the earth’s climate, we better make sure we first administer the correct medicine.  I don’t want to be standing in a flooded neighborhood with no food and a bicycle as my only means of escape.

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