My take on this has always been that we pollute far too much currently and although the science seems overwhelmingly in favour of man made global warming: does it really matter?
Businesses will get away with using as much energy, polluting as much as possible unless there is a cost attached to doing so. More than that actually, they have a duty to their shareholders actually to continue to pollute as much as possible while ever it is free to do so. So CO2, like any number of pollutants that had a cost attached via regulations/fines/taxes needs to have a cost associated. If you look back in time you’d see that any number of things have gone through this transition:
Prior to the health or environmental impact of the above triggering change it was the wild west type situation for businesses. Lead was in paint, added to petrol (gasoline for the yanks), smelters didn’t have to worry about minimising the contamination of ground water/soil around refinery/smelter operations. Then when the science and medical research came rolling in: it was either banned, phased out or required to be cleaned up (e.g. a fine last year for lead contamination). That made lead expensive to pollute with because it had to be treated with consideration to the impact on children etc.
Same deal with asbestos. It was (and still is) great for a number of things: heat proofing, building materials (the old version of “fibro cement” with asbestos was superior to the current cellulose variety (which is nowhere near as durable, strong, fire retardant or flexible.. seriously, asbestos is magic stuff). But while not as good in some ways, it doesn’t get into your lungs and cause nasty growths/cancers that will slowly kill you.
But back to global warming/climate change. What if we’re wrong about it?
I think the following cartoon sums up my thoughts on the matter:
So I’ll take the argument from point of apathy: the “do you REALLY care” option.
- Does anyone care if they drive a petrol or an electric car if they both get you to and from your destination (assuming they start making them look half decent)? What if the electric one can be charged from the sun and doesn’t pollute the air around population centres?
- Would you care if you plugged in the car or dropped in a battery pack vs filling up with petrol? Battery packs should stink less and service stations look a bit cleaner (without run-off into drains etc).
- Does anyone care (or know for that matter) whether the electrons running your monitor that you’re reading this come from sunlight via solar cells or wind via wind farm or kite or does it HAVE to come via burning fossil fuels like coal? e.g. does your ability to put food on the table depend on energy being generated from fossil fuels, and if it does: could you possibly do one of the many new jobs away from coal?
- Would anyone notice if the hot water for the morning shower was heated via a solar hot water unit on the roof or is burning coal necessary for a good scrub temperature?
- Do you care if there are millions of new jobs in green industries created as environmentally dirty jobs are phased out?
- Do I care if my amazing Triumph Daytona 675 motorcycle is superseded by something sexy and electric like the MotoCzysz E1pc?
If you don’t really care about stuff like the above then keep your coal industry fibs to yourself, shut the hell up and let the people pushing for those things get on with the job. The absolute worse thing about these misinformed twits is that they are campaigning against improving the world for no other reason than because they want to go with the “do nothing and let everything get more polluted for our kids” option.
Want to see where we’re headed worldwide: take a look at China’s worst polluted spots for some hints (it isn’t pretty).
Yeah: what if it is (by some hugely unlikely plot by tens if not hundreds of thousands of scientists) a hoax and we end up with a world that doesn’t care about oil or coal. A state of being where we can let that shitty, dirty internal combustion technology retire into being another of those strange oddities in a transport museum (along with the coal fired steam engines and those planes with flapping wings failing on takeoff). If we lose the car noise and smoky exhaust smell in the cities and have the whir of electric driven wheels (or better yet trams/trains or electric buses) instead.
I would hope that certain jobs go quietly into the night and were replaced with many others:
- coal power plant technician
- oil rig drilling engineer
- internal combustion mechanic
Perhaps “replaced” with:
- solar array technician
- recycling engineer
- electric vehicle mechanic
But I suspect the anti-green Luddites and the climate change deniers will be digging in hard for many years to come.