Monday, December 13, 2010

Global Climate Change

I just had a conversation. Well it wasn't really a conversation, it was more like I listened and couldn't get in a word edgewise. Hence the blog post. Maybe here is a better place for dialog.

The global climate change debate seem to distill down to two major camps, one says climate change is an issue that we should be worried about, and the other says it's a big hoax. Now I'm not a climate scientist, and I don't play one on TV, so personally I have no way of knowing what is true and what isn't. I don't have the time or the background (or the desire) to research this, and even if I did I don't have the base knowledge to make a reasonable judgment on the veracity of the science. I just don't. But that's nothing new, there are MANY topics that I can't understand. So I have to figure out some way of verifying the data, even when I can't understand it. I have to use some sort of logic that can help me make sense of it all.

One way to do this is by using a SME (Subject Matter Expert). We rely on SME's all the time at work. I don't need to know about Drupal, I rely on our SME to set it up so I can use it. To me, it's the same with climate change, I need a SME I can rely on.

But according to what I read, there is great debate on who is or is not a SME, and whether or not we can trust the information coming from them. Again, I can't understand the data, so maybe a SME isn't going to help me here.

So the next thing I weigh are the pros and cons. In this scenario I don't have to know if global climate change is real or a hoax, I just need to figure out the consequences of both positions. This is how it looks to me:

Scenario One: Climate change is real and the are significant consequences to our planet if we don't begin to reign in emissions.

Scenario Two: Climate change is a big hoax and we don't have to do anything. The planet is going through it's typical weather changes, and the spikes in temp are just normal variations.

The people pushing scenario One tell us that we need to spend money and cut emissions. They say this will slow and maybe even reverse climate change. If they are wrong we will spend money we didn't need to spend and slow economic growth. However at the same time we'll make our planet less polluted.

In scenario Two, we don't need to do anything. This will save us money and keep economic growth strong.

As far as I can tell, this is the basic argument. One side says spend money and limit growth to prevent a catastrophe. The other says save money and keep growth, there's no big problem. So if One is correct, the worst case scenario is that we could really screw up our planet. If Two is correct, the worst case scenario is that we spend money that we didn't need to spend and slow economic growth. But we do get a less polluted planet. Right?

Now here's how I make my choices in life. I'm a firm believer in the old adage, "Hope for the best, but plan for the worst." Ask my kids. LOL They know these are words Mom lives by. So using my logic it seems to me that we should be treating climate change as a real threat, because the consequences of being wrong are so much worse if climate change is real and we don't do anything, than if climate change is a hoax.

What am I missing?

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