I blog about global warming and the reactions are hot. One commenter thinks I want everybody to believe in global warming so green tech will get more investment. My selfish reason for liking green tech: it is more likely more birds and trees will survive and I find those pleasing in almost all aspects. If green tech could be done for free that would be fine with me. Upset a lot of VCs and engineers, however.
THE "LIE BACKAND ENJOY IT" FALLACY
One commenter goes to great lengths to describe historical cooling and warming trends, many long before man's ancestors stopped dragging their knuckles. Agreed, not all hot and cool earth conditions are man-made or even capable of human engineering now.
"Why is today's temp what you consider to be the norm? Why not the temp during Eric Leaf's voyages? Why not the temp during the ice age? Why not any time but now?
"The arrogance behind this is astonishing. Not only is man responsible for today's warming trends, you think man can stop the historical global temp cycles in their tracks and whimsically choose what temp you want it to be to suit your fancy. Amazing! I didn't realize man had evolved to the Wesley Crusher state of being already!"
I don't imagine we can pick our temperature. Clearly that's already out of control. But should we do nothing we think might prevent extensive heating? When ... is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it. Somehow I think the effort is worth making. A cleaner atmosphere and burning less fossil fuel is not the end of humanity.
AH, A LIAR WHO FIGURES
Am I really a liar, or mere propagandist, who uses figures?
"I find it interesting that this 'warming cycle' we are in began before the industrial revolution (check out a graph that covers ~1000 years and you will see as much warming occured between 1700-1850 than between 1850 and 2000).
"Harry, you are right. The sample period matters. Let's just make sure to pick the 'right' one, and no the one that tells the best story for your side."
The period of 1700-1850 was when our forefathers were busy deforesting much of the northern hemisphere. Wood burning was the majlor source of heat and energy. And man was starting to really get into the coal-burning thing. Again, even if this warming cycle is caused by forces we don't control or cause, should we ignore it and wait for the millions of Bengladeshis to need homes? Why don't we stop all flu vaccines, tear down the New Orleans levees or stop hurricane forecasting? If there's any justification for technology it should improving quality of life not simply making lots of money for a few folks on top.
SECOND VERSION OF 'LIE BACK AND ENJOY IT'
"Oh, and can someone explain why Mars and Saturn are having a similar temperature fluctuation? My wife’s minivan doesn't pollute other solar bodies, right?"
Your wife minivan is clearly innocent of this particular galactic malfeasance. And perhaps you have gleaned the truth: all warming is cuased by solar storm cycles, cosmic radiation flucuations and stuff we mere mortals cannot fathom. It's gonna get really hot in here so let's not do anything that might ameliorate that, just lie back and enjoy it.
NO BIG DEAL
"Is global warming real? Sure.
"Is it man made? Maybe, maybe not.
"Has it been worse in the past? Yup.
"Is this gonna kill us? No.
"What's the big deal? Still have no idea."
Hell, there have been comets and meteorites and volcanic eruptions and climate distuptions and ice ages and mass extinctions through the earth's history. (Unless you dis-believe evolution which I guess throws all the blame and burdon onto a diety.) And this is just another cycle. No bid deal. Millions could die, some would say are already dying because of drought, starvation and the political disruption that follows from changed weather patterns. Forget them. Let the suckers live in the Sudan, low-lying atolls, sinking Arctic villages and New Orleans. I'm alright, Jack. It ain't gonna kill us, in our air-conditioned offices and cars.
DON'T DO ANYTHING
I suspect if cars were not somehow endangered by global warming, this would not be such an issue. Cars are an extension of our very being here in America so global is much more controversial here than anywhere on the planet.
We humans have arrogantly cut and replanted forests, mined mountains, dammed rivers, diked out the sea, driven numerous species into extinction, built on quake faults and volcano slopes, inhabited flood plains and paved wonderful soil. We have chosen some species to be our pampered pets, others to be dinner. We have bred special varieties of plant and animal to suit our wants or perceived needs. We despise thistle and love artichokes. We run this planet, just ask any CEO or prime minister. Yet now that we face what could be a serious global problem we should back off?
STANDARD BOILER PLATE
This verbiage will now be attached to any blog I do about global warming. It’s amazing to me that somebody who can apparently read and then post comments still wonders in public why global warming matters on a technology web site. But I am naive, always assuming everybody’s paying attention.
It’s because of money. If global warming has enough acceptance among corporations, the public and even pols, there will be more money spent on green tech, wisely or unwisely. If oil prices stay low and most people don’t care a fig about global warming, green tech will have a difficult time succeeding, regardless of its merits. Not every good idea succeeds. VCs usually invest where they think there’s best chance for a good return. In greentech as in any tech the winners will often be determined by luck, brilliance, timing, happenstance and even marketing. Behind it all will be the money and behind that: whether the evidence for global warming and curtailing pollution drive action or is written off as claptrap.