I read this article on Science News (hopefully the link below will work for you) and felt motivated to comment on it.
Contrasting the concerns over climate and ozone loss
Why phasing out chlorofluorocarbons proved a much easier sell than have been moves to cut back on greenhouse gases
This is my initial comment:
Even if we accept that human activity alone is contributing to the rise in temps (not something I advocate based on my reading starting back before the subject was cool or even controversial) why is the only solution to force a repeal of the industrial revolution? Why can’t we discuss alternatives (include doing nothing)? Why is everyone so absolutely positive that doing nothing results in catastrophe while doing something saves the world? Geo-engineering is geo-engineering and I feel we are just as likely to trigger an early arrival of the next ice age (a guarantee if any of our historical data is correct) as we are to maintain a steady temp. On a related note, if we are going to set a goal of keeping the temp fixed, what would be that temp and how is it to be measured? How do you remove noise from the measurement to know if you are succeeding or failing?
It seems impossible to have any of these conversations because the subject has got so polarized and politicized.
There isn’t much traffic there, but it seems my comments tweaked a nerve so I decided to respond again:
I am sure this is a waste of effort, much as I am sure you feel the same toward me, but I will try again…
What if, as I have read in scientific journals, that rather than burning of fossil fuels, the increase in CO2 we are observing is actually the result of putting land into cultivation (cultivated land leading to a net production of CO2)? If that were the case (as I recall, the arguments were quite persuasive and correlated very well with observed trends, better than the burning of fossil fuels), then if we all stopped using fossil fuels tomorrow there would be zero impact on the rate of global warming. I would have thought that these reports (which, unfortunately, I have not been able to relocate, either on-line or find where I am sure I saved a copy) would have got a lot of attention in the conversation in global warming, but instead, the reports appear to have been totally ignored. THAT is what I find offensive, the polarization has reached the point where even scientists cannot engage in rational discussion or discuss (or engage in) new lines of research.
Regarding the comparison with the money poured into medicine, I find that a spurious argument at best. Antibiotics were so successful that they became so over used that they are now useless. How is that progress? In the US we spend more per capita on medicine than anywhere else in the world, yet so far as I know, we are leaders in no other health category. What if there were treatments for diseases that cost billions instead of trillions and were more effective (in the case of antibiotics, bacteriophages)? Would we not then be idiots to spend the trillions? I suggest that the polarization that many blame on the denialists goes both ways. The pro-warming activists seem to see the only conceivable solution is one that forces our economy to crash as we piss away quadrillions on technology that has no prayer of success in allowing us to keep our current level of civilization, let alone progress.
I am not a global warming denialist, I am a person who has extensively read about the topic for well over a decade and I see far from certainty that the only course of action is to repeal the industrial revolution. I would like to engage in discussions on the merit of various approaches to address the concept of engineering our climate (which, of course, we are doing right now, but not on purpose) where there is potential for ideas in between doing nothing and causing such a catastrophe to our economy that we are basically thrown back into the iron age (well, probably further, since iron production is a huge source of CO2). If, as I read in a research paper, it is possible for a 3% tax on CO2 fuel sources could extract more CO2 than is produced each year by humans that could allow us to continue along our current path until fossil fuels become so expensive that the alternatives finally become economic. However, none of these discussions seem possible as long as people are going to insist on making every attempt at a rational discussion into a breast beating contest.
What is fascinating (aggravating, annoying, maddening) is the apparent inability to have a civil discussion. It seems that global warming debate has achieved the levels of abortion discussions (for the record I firmly believe that unwanted children should never be forced to live a life of misery and if the anti-abortion fanatics want every child conceived to grow to adulthood, they should be running giant organizations to take on the burden of raising those unwanted children rather than preaching about other people being forced into taking on that task), both sides are so polarized that the middle ground is a bottomless gulf where any who traverse are doomed to endless obscurity (if they are lucky) or derision (if they are less lucky). I am not sure what I expect to get out of this post (or the comments I attached to the article), but felt I needed to get it off my chest.