Saturday 27 April 2013
Nigel Lawson, An Appeal To Reason
Once upon a time I thought that global warming is a fairly straightforward affair. Industrial gas emissions are making our planet too warm for comfort, humanity has to either cut down on noxious fuming or fry, end of story. Since our species' record of reasonable behaviour is not too impressive, I tend to be rather gloomy about our prospects, but that's my opinion.
Rummaging through library books I picked up two random titles on the Great Issue and learnt that global warming is not so simple after all. The picture is actually so complex that nothing is known for sure (you know, SURE sure, 100% absolutely certain sure), so everyone can believe whatever they wish. Thus, global warming shifts and mutates into whatever suits the agenda of any particular individual.
Today, we'll review a sceptic's guide to global warming.
The book (or booklet - it's little over one hundred pages) is called An Appeal To Reason: A Cool Look At Global Warning. I admit, the title alone convinced me. I do love reasonable talk!
What a shame that in this particular instance the promise was hardly fulfilled...
In simplified form, Lawson's reasoning goes more or less like this:
A) Global warming is a myth
B) If it proves not to be a myth, it is certainly not anthropogenic
C) Anthropogenic or not, it is likely to be beneficial rather than harmful
D) Even if it is harmful, trying to mitigate its effects is not a logical solution
E) Even if we wanted to choose the mitigation approach, we are not really in the position to do so
F) Let the future generations worry about global warming, because they'll be better off than us anyway
G) If mitigation is unavoidable, there's only one logical thing to do: let's tax everyone on carbon.
All of the above is delivered in an arrogant, judgemental manner. Everyone who does not share Lawson's views is by definition irrational, overreacting and absurd. On the other hand, whoever happens to agree with his theories is automatically assigned 'prominent' status. Rhetoric, rhetoric and once again rhetoric. I'm afraid the only thing it shares with reason is the 'r' at the beginning...
To add insult to injury, Lawson's figures are highly selective and his moral stance is definitely not cool. Developing countries afflicted by disasters because of our emissions? Screw them, we'll give them some aid money for flood defences while enjoying longer summer. Future generations condemned to life on a polluted, dangerous planet? Yes, well, but we are important, too, so let's focus on our comfort here and now, shall we?
About the only thing that Lawson gets right is his assessment of likelihood of global cooperation when it comes to fighting the global warming; to wit, it is extremely unlikely. The main culprits (no name calling, but YOU know who they are...) do not feel inclined to acknowledge responsibility, the future offenders don't mind offending as long as it boosts their economies and everyone prefers power struggles to collaboration.
Welcome to the planet Earth. Enjoy while it lasts...
PS. In the next post, we'll take a look at the Christian view of global warming. Check back in a day or two if you're curious.