Opinion: Climate debate: ‘My money’s on change now’
- Credit: Archant
‘If the ‘we can fix it’...then it’s back to the extinction option’
I am impressed by Ken Warren’s confidence that climate change is nothing to worry about (‘Keep Calm and Carry On’, Opinion, January 22). I’m not a climate science expert, so I must judge the situation as best I can, amid the welter of contradictory information. I don’t know if Ken is a betting man, but here’s my method of deciding if it’s a problem or not.
It’s not complicated - I look at the most likely outcomes, and take on board what will happen if I lose. Given that 95 per cent of climate scientists support the notion that fossil fuel emissions are affecting the global climate adversely, and 5 per cent either deny it altogether or tell us we can build our way out of it, I reckon I’ll go with the majority view. If I’m wrong and it turns out we could have carried on burning coal, oil and gas in the way we are at the moment, what damage results from altering the way we live? Except to the corporate interests who wanted to go on extracting and burning - very little. It will be different, that’s for sure, but the environment will be a whole lot better and the economy might work within the limitations of planetary resources. And the coal, oil and gas will still be in the ground.
On the other hand, if Ken is wrong - and the continued burning of fossil fuels at the rate we are really is heading us towards atmospheric changes which will render the planet uninhabitable - what’s the damage there? Working back from outright human extinction, the range of outcomes includes a series of catastrophic climate shifts which eliminate part of the planetary land area as sea levels rise, together with frequent, worsening droughts, storms and floods as a more highly energised global weather system flexes its muscles. The social mayhem as people start to move about to get out of the worst affected zones doesn’t bear thinking about. If the ‘we can fix it’ scenario is wrong too and our efforts to cobble together a human-life support system by tinkering with chaotic atmospheric systems we don’t understand, spraying sunlight deflection dust into the stratosphere, or sucking CO2 out of the air, or any one of a dozen whacko schemes to try to fix things that have got out of hand - if these don’t work either, then it’s back to the extinction option.
I hope Ken is right and I’m worrying for no reason, but for the moment my money is on changing things now, just in case he’s wrong.
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