I believe the planet is getting warmer. And I believe human beings are partly responsible for it. More accurately, I believe the scientists who say those things. It’s just a belief: I don’t know anything. I have to take someone’s word for it. Forecasting the climate, and its effects, is something no layperson can do. There seem to be way more “it’s getting warmer” scientists than “no, it isn’t” scientists. So I'll go along with them.
Here’s where I disagree with a lot of New York liberals. Those brave souls, who summon up the daily courage to have the same opinions as everyone around them.
The planet is getting warmer. But… does it really matter that much? Is it consequential? There’s a lot of alarmism out there. Here: (http://www.carbonneutralearth.com/global_warming_statistics.php) is a typical example. Over a third of all plant and animal species could be extinct by 2050! We’ll lose a fifth of all forests! We’re killing the planet: this is ecocide!
That’s a horrific scenario. People say terrifying things like this all the time. But my approach is always this: ignore what people SAY, watch what they DO. It’s easy to talk about your fears for the planet. But reversing climate change would require very large political, economic and social shifts, some of them uncomfortable for a lot of people. What are most people who claim to care actually DOING about climate change? Sure, they go on a few protest marches. They post worried things to Facebook. A few of them even write to their elected officials. They certainly tell pollsters and people at dinner parties that they are “very concerned” about climate change.
It’s all very polite and safe. In many ways, that’s the default left-wing position: vocal disappointment in people who don’t agree with them, and a kind of passive despair for everyone and every thing. That position is so easy. And so lazy.
Are any climate change activists closing down power plants with sit-ins? No. Are they sabotaging dirty, CO2-spewing planes? No. In fact, I think only a handful of people who SAY they care about climate change would support stuff like that. Why? Because people would be seriously inconvenienced. Airports would clog. Electrical power to schools and hospitals would be threatened. And those would be, naturally, bad things.
But bad compared to what? Aren’t we talking about the imminent end of the planet here? Aren’t we talking about mass population shifts? And Miami sinking into the Pacific? And Bangladesh ceasing to exist etc. etc. (whatever the “doomsday scenario” of the week). Why aren't people sacrificing everything to stop this existential menace? Where are the true eco-warriors?
In 1963, some people were so committed to saving the nation of Vietnam, they set themselves on fire. For 30 years, the IRA bombed, shot and hunger-struck to change the political fate of Northern Ireland (a place roughly half the size of metro Seattle). I’m not endorsing those actions, but you have to admit: they put their money where their mouth was. They put some skin in the game. They gave up life and liberty for their cause, and a lot of people risked jail and humiliation to help them.
So here’s my gut feeling.
Not even climate change protestors believe in the doomsday scenario. They think it “could” happen. But they harbor large, unspoken doubts. They definitely think climate change is “bad”, in the same way they think a whole raft of abstract stuff is “bad”: like capitalism, heavy industry, multinational corporations, and all that stuff. But they don’t believe that the situation is so bad, that they have to actively sacrifice their current happiness to change it.
And THAT is how you measure how bad things are. Not on any set scale, but on how much you’re willing to give up in order to change it. Judging purely by their actions, (not words) most climate change protestors believe stuff is “bad, but y'know, not end-of-the-world bad”. When they start really messing stuff up, I'll be worried. Until then, I won't.