Behaving like ostriches isn’t going to make global warming go away
AT LEAST Mr Perkins (16 January 2024) and I can agree that it is impossible to foretell the future with absolute certainty (beyond death and taxes), and he is right that the degree to which global warming will pose a danger to life on Earth is a question which cannot be proven by debate, only by observing what happens when it happens. Unfortunately, of all the theoretical outcomes of unchecked carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution of the atmosphere, the worst case scenario extrapolated from scientific knowledge and the observation of what is already occurring, is runaway global warming which is an extinction event. Unfortunately, once it becomes this is what is happening, it will be too late to do anything about it.
Consequently, the question that can and must be answered by debate is whether the world should do something about it, and if so what? That is why this correspondence in the Press is happening. In my letter I encapsulated the known facts so that discussion on the differing interpretations of the scientific evidence was not carried out in a vacuum. Mr Perkins dismisses that as ‘the usual zero carbon rhetoric’ rather than the foreboding facts that they actually are. Minds must be made up on the basis of facts and on these the various predictions of the future are based. The path that we follow should not be decided by crossing our fingers and hoping that somebody’s soothing words will do the trick.
Of course there are other dangers to the world’s wellbeing which need to be addressed, but addressing them and addressing global warming are not mutually exclusive.
Here I can once more agree with Mr Perkins that something needs to be done about the increasing world population (which we can do something about), and that being hit by a giant asteroid is another danger, but one about which science is taking the first tentative steps to guard against. Mr Perkins pins great hope on the fact that the reign of dinosaurs on the Earth lasted for 150 million years before their extinction event occurred, but I would point out to him (if it needed pointing out) that they didn’t burn fossil fuels and so didn’t have to contend with a rapidly warming climate caused by their own activities. What did for them was the giant asteroid strike – the possibility of which we, unlike them, know about and are able to take steps to avoid. All life is resilient (as Mr Perkins reminds us) but only up to a point. In the worst case scenario of global warming gong unchecked, life (except possibly for thermophilic bacteria) would certainly not survive. We, unlike the dinosaurs, do have a chance of averting the worst of the developing crisis. Behaving like ostriches or Mr Micawber isn’t going to make the problem go away. Does any sane individual wish to take that risk?
I don’t know whether Mr Perkins is a conspiracy theorist with his suggestion that the need to take steps to minimise global warming is a construct made by ‘vested interests’ which are ‘inhibiting a proper scientific investigation of the reasons for global warming and climate change’. What is the evidence either for the ‘stifling of scientific research’ or the ‘vested interests’ (are they the wily Orientals like Dr Fu Manchu whom he envisages as rubbing their hands with glee at the West’s panic)? Answer: there is no evidence for these vested interests – they exist only in Mr Perkins’s imagination.
As for my scaremongering, I would refer you to his unfounded statement that the response to global warming ‘will quite likely bankrupt our economies and may even destroy our societies’. Talk about quandaries – as Pte. Frazer would say: ‘We’re doomed if we don’t do anything about global warming and we’re doomed if we do.’
In this case I would urge that we follow the facts and don’t risk the future of our grandchildren and their grandchildren by basing what we do on postulates which are not supported as yet by real world observational facts.
As for Mr Perkins, might I proffer the advice that he do something more useful such as be against the overpopulation in the world. That is something in which I could support him.