Not debating climate change is the way to extinction

Lifestyles 55 issues in the news
Dorothy Dobbie
Issues in the news

If no one ever questioned the status quo, we would still be hiding in caves, too afraid to venture out because you know for sure that there would be a bunch of people telling you all the horrible things that could happen to you if you did.

Predicting doom seems to be a way for folks to allay their fears by sharing them with everyone else. There seems to be comfort in numbers. But it is the contrarian, the curious one, the lone skeptic, responding to the opposite call of nature, who leads the way to discovery, change and progress.

So, it is with climate change and the current great non-debate. Based on observations, limited to certain assumptions, many people have concluded that increases in CO2 levels will lead us into the darkness of suffocating heat and the ultimate extinction of the human race if nothing is done to curb these emissions. Moreover, just as since earliest times, if we will only follow a simple ritual, all will be saved. In this case, we must simply stop using fossil fuels, which they maintain, are solely responsible for the changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and hence cause global warming.

Now it is true that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have risen over the past number of years if we look at the moment in time that they prescribe. The reason for concern, they say, is that carbon dioxide absorbs infrared radiation at the wavelength that is being radiated back (and in all directions) from the earth. The carbon dioxide, they say, holds on to the infrared radiation and radiates it back to the earth instead of allowing it to escape the atmosphere. This sets up a cycle that warms the earth which causes the release of more water vapour which keeps in more heat and upsets the balance of heat gain and loss. Essentially, that is the argument.

Others argue that this is a fine theory, but there are a lot of things it does not explain, one of them being that 500 million years ago, carbon dioxide saturated the atmosphere at a rate of 4,000 parts per million, eventually settling to around 280 parts per million until the industrial age. Since then, they have watched it rise to 415 parts per million, much of that rise in very recent years. This, climate change proponents say, is a clear signal of man’s culpability in contributing to global warming through our use of fossil fields, agriculture, biomass burning and other practices. 

The skeptics point to the many factors that have not been considered by the climate change modellers, including their statement that the first 20 ppm of CO2 contributes to over half the heating effect. 

So, the discussions go, back and forth, with many graphs and logical arguments from all sides. Most of the issues discussed are theoretical with little empirical evidence to back them up. That is evidenced by the many “weasel words” (may, might, can, could) in the NASA reports.

 Skeptics say that there are vast numbers of variables that have not been considered in the climate projection models. They also point to historic patterns that contradict the climate change models. They point out that CO2 is the stuff of life. Recently we were told that if we planted a trillion trees, enough carbon would be captured to mitigate the amount of carbon being released using fossil fuels and biomass burning, etc. Our Prime Minister acknowledged this by vowing to plant a billion trees, (so far, none have been planted under this directive).

And increased levels of carbon dioxide are greening the earth. NASA has reported that, “Satellite measurements found increasing leaf area index for 25 percent to 50 percent of Earth’s vegetated area over the past 35 years (i.e., a greening of the planet), providing evidence for a positive CO2 fertilization effect.” To my mind, this simply underlines the fact that CO2 is essential to life. Indeed, if levels were to drop as low as 150 ppm, plants, and consequently, all animals, would die. 

I have spent hours reading reports and hearing from my friends in the climate business and, as one told me I would, I got a headache from all the contradictory information.

But that is the whole point of this article. We need to THINK and QUESTION the premises upon which such dire projections are being made. We must have room for informed debate, because to blindly follow anyone is an invitation to one day drink a glass of poisoned Kool-Aid.

Right now, people are being told that they must invest their hearts and the proceeds of their hard work into replacing fossil fuel to “save the planet”. But so many of the proposals to do this are counter productive, in that such things as wind capture technology, solar panels and battery electrical power technologies use large quantities of fossil fuels, transforming them into products that will be hard to manage as they break down (as all manmade products do over time) and become waste.

Illogically, we are told that if you pay more for fuel (and get it back) you will somehow be contributing to a “cleaner and greener planet”. The logic of that escapes me entirely! Taxing necessities is not the way to change human behaviour.

I have no problem with exploring new ways to use energy. I think that this exploration is part of our natural quest to understand our world and to live in harmony with it. Energy is everywhere in every living and non-living thing. It assists us in making the world a better place for humans and, apparently, in reaching out to the universe in search of other homes to colonize in case our developing expertise allows the earth to become overpopulated. Thank you, Elon Musk.

The only thing that can hold us back from progress is our refusal to allow that natural curiosity, skepticism, and desire to question flourish. We MUST debate climate change and its causes.

That debate holds discovery and the key to our future.

For those of you who are looking for the other side of the argument, watch this: