The Australian Government has recently announced revised, reduced targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. There has been some objection to this but it should not really be surprising.
Governments around the world have shown that they just don’t get it. They don’t see environmental protection and enhancement as fundamental to economic well-being. They have the traditional view that environmental conservation is a luxury that should be thrown over during times of economic difficulty.
This makes me realize that, if global warming is really happening, the question of whether it is human-caused or not is actually irrelevant. In either case, there is nothing we can do to stop it at this stage. Whether it is caused by factors actually beyond our control, like variations in the sun’s energy output, or by the sheer momentum of the world economy, which is theoretically within our control but virtually beyond it, we can’t stop global warming. So, what to do?
We urgently need a consensus on the subject, across the whole range of opinion, from extreme deniers to the most ardent Gore-believers.
Is warming happening? If so, how fast and to what extent? When will it reach a new equilibrium? What is the most likely scenario? What are the most likely consequences?
If we can establish a broad agreement about these matters, then we can start a world-wide effort to adapt to global warming. All available resources should be devoted to this end. This is a huge job. All costly projects aimed at stopping global warming should be dropped and their resources diverted to adapting to it.
This doesn’t mean that the consumption of fossil fuels will, or should, increase indefinitely. Such consumption is self-limiting. The resources are limited, their renewal rate is low and there are sound practical economic reasons for reducing their rate of consumption until it is more like their low renewal rate. Actually the idea of trying to stop global warming is a red herring, a distraction from more important and practical reasons for reducing fossil fuel consumption.
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