Yesterday, a reader calling himself "Richard Miller" left behind a critical comment about my meeting with Congressman Nadler in which I will ask him to sponsor a "Sense of the House" resolution calling for climate change policy based on what is scientifically necessary rather than just politically possible.
Richard asked, "How are you going to feel in a few years when your pet causes are proven to be hoaxes and frauds?"
I thought it would be fun, in today's post, to answer that question:
First off, almost no one serious, except for oil industry spin doctors (and welcome, "Richard," even if you are one), discounts climate change anymore. Even the current Administration accepts that it exists.
Indeed, most political observers agree that the real attacks on science pointing to climate change come from people and organizations who don't like the regulatory implications. They find it easier to try to obfuscate the science than to fight the resulting legislation on its merits (though, "Richard," if you would like to actually discuss the merits here on the blog, you would be very welcome).
Only yesterday, in fact, New York's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, called attention to the anti-regulatory attempts to manipulate science. According to Andy Revkin of the New York Times blog DotEarth, Bloomberg compared climate-change naysayers to tobacco-industry spin-merchants:
[Bloomberg] focused on smoking, reviewing how the tobacco industry spent decades sprinkling doubt into discussions of science showing links between smoking (and secondhand smoke) and cancer and other illness. While many wealthy countries have moved to constrain and tax smoking, the world, Mr. Bloomberg said, is still on a path toward a billion smoking-related deaths in this century.
He then shifted to climate and energy, describing how science has been distorted not only by industries and anti-regulatory groups, but also political operatives working within government agencies. The latest example, Mr. Bloomberg said, was the ongoing politics-driven push to subsidize ethanol from corn. [Read the text of Bloomberg's speech here.]
But to return to your question, "Richard," since many of the measures needed to deal with climate change have a lot of positive benefits, if it turns out to not exist, I will first praise God in thanks and then I will think:
- I am glad we created 5 million or more new jobs here in the United States in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable generation.
- I am glad we created a culture that relies less on foreign oil, so that our children can live secure lives, knowing that the energy rug can't be pulled out from under them.
- I am glad we have found a way to save people and industry billions upon billions of dollars by making the use of energy more efficient.
- I am glad the millions of children who suffer from asthma can now breathe easier thanks to the fact that we aren't pumping the air full of toxins from our exhaust pipes and smokestacks.
- I am glad that, by no longer burning oil and coal into our air, we've put an end to acid rain and the devastation of our aquatic life.
- I am glad that we created good, reliable, fun-to-use public transportation system so that families no longer have to raid their budgets to pay for cars and gas.
- I am glad we've stopped building suburbs, which make people unhappy and are designed for cars not people, and instead build villages where people can have strong community bonds that help make life fulfilling.
- I am glad we now have fuel-efficient automobiles.
- I am glad that we've learned as a culture to get off the work-more-to-spend-more treadmill which gobbles up resources and leaves us unfulfilled and instead turned to a way of live full of meaning and purpose.
- I am glad we developed local, fresh food systems that care not just about filling bellies but what we put in those bellies.
- I am glad that we have rejected the philosophies of survival of the fittest and competition for resources as driving philosophies and have instead embraced a philosophy of compassion and justice.
- I am glad that we have understood that a sustainable society cannot work without supporting all of its people and that we looked for and found ways to improve the lives of everyone.
- I'm glad that we've come to see people rather than things as our most valuable resource and that, in embracing the respectful and loving principles of not wasting, we have learned not to waste youth in prisons but instead to get them help for their drug addictions and alcoholism.
- I am glad that, in realizing our resources are limited, we have come to use them to do what is important and to help each other rather than compete with each other.
- I am glad that we have come to see education as the ultimate in sustainable industries.
- I am glad that we have developed distributed, renewable energy technologies that allow kids in all parts of the world to have electric light so they can learn how to read.
- The list goes on and on, but in short, I am glad that we have embraced the opportunities presented by the crisis of climate change in order to improve our society in ways we should have done anyway.
Now, a question for you, "Richard." Since I've answered your question honestly, I hope you'll do the same with mine.
What would you feel if we went your way and you turned out to be wrong? What would you feel if we all assumed, as you do, that we need not do anything about climate change, but then that it turns out that we should have? What would you feel if we buried our heads in the sand, ignored the problem, and then irreversibly damaged the planetary habitat that we depend upon for our health, happiness and security?
Image courtesy of WrongWay.org.