I have a simple question for everyone:
Why are we still arguing about global warming?
Specifically, why are we arguing whether climate change is caused by humans, and will lead to dire consequences? During the last election, this chestnut got dragged out again for people to argue about, and recently The Dark Side of the Blog's old friend, Media Watch, talked about an article in The Australian that said the dangers of climate change had been exaggerated. Media Watch proved The Australian was very wrong, and you'd think that would be the end of it, but then Andrew Bolt came out and slammed Media Watch for daring to be pro-climate change. Then, a little later, Alan Jones began parroting The Australian's article in his usual alarmist fashion.
Now, I've previously discussed the frustrating attitude some people have towards climate change - it basically amounts to this...
I understand that it's a part of human nature to just pretend scary things don't exist. And look, I'm not saying we all stop driving out cars and become tree-hugging luddites. However, as far as I'm concerned, there are no major disadvantages to admitting climate change exists and making some changes.
"No major disadvantages?" you might say. "What about all the people who would lose their jobs if we stopped mining, stopped burning coal, stopped buying petrol cars?" I - and, dare I say, most people - are not suggesting we shut down the mining industry overnight, that would be stupid. Yet, I think even the most ardent climate change skeptic will have to admit that one day, we will run out of stuff to dig out of the ground. Obviously, nobody knows when this day will be, but at some point in the future we WILL run out of fossil fuels.
And then what? Well, we'll need to switch to renewable sources of energy like solar and wind, or energy sources not yet widely used, like hydrogen or nuclear. Naturally, though, switching energy sources will be a difficult and expensive process if all done at once.
So here's my point: we have nothing to lose by starting to switch to renewable sources of energy now. Already I can hear the first argument against: "Cleaner energies are more expensive!". Well, sure, now they are, but I personally don't mind spending an extra $5 a week on cleaner energies. If it's really that expensive, why not have one less beer or one less packet of cigarettes a week? Just cut down on the luxuries guys, it's not hard.
And anyway, the key word above is starting. At the moment, cleaner energies are more expensive, but that's because they don't have the existing equipment, experience and marketing power that the fossil fuel companies have. If we offer incentives (such as rebates) and introduce taxes (like carbon taxes) it will help these cleaner sources of energy become more competitive. And then, as more and more people begin to buy them, they will become cheaper to produce (that's a little thing called economies of scale, in case you're wondering).
Seriously, what do we stand to lose? Even if the scientific consensus on climate change is wrong (which is extremely unlikely, but, let's face it, the scientific community has been wrong before), we will be reducing our reliance of fossil fuels in the long run. Isn't that a good thing? It may be easy to stick our heads in the sand now and say, "Well, I'm not going to have to worry about the day we run out of fossil fuels, that's hundreds of years from now", but this is a very selfish attitude. I would like to leave the world as a better place than when I entered it, not in an even worse state. Look, I even prepared a flow chart!
As I said at the end of my last rant on climate change skeptics: Australia has a responsibility as a developed nation to do the right thing. We have led the world on many then-controversial issues, such as giving women the vote and restricting the sales of guns - and we did these things not because they were easy, but because it was the right thing to do. Australia can lead the world again - we need only to stop listening to the fear mongers.
© 2013 by The Free Man
Wikipedia: Scientific Opinion on Climate Change
CSIRO: Understanding Climate Change
NASA: Climate Change Consensus