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The Unproven Global Warming

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I had an interesting argument with someone a few days back about global warming. The said person was of the opinion that global warming is all myth, perpetuated by special interest groups.

This post if basically a snapshot of my reply.

It surprises me when someone argues about proof of global warming. We cannot have airtight proof that global warming will destroy us. Because then we will be dead.

We have only one atmosphere to live with. And yes, global warming is a theory so far. With pretty good support from lots of data and simulations, but still a theory. Yes, that’s true.

But considering the danger it poses to humanity if true, up to what point you are willing to push your luck? You can wait till the theory is proven beyond doubt. But by that time the damage to earth’s atmosphere will be so catastrophic that the winner and loser in the argument will not live too long to reminisce in victory or come to terms with the loss.

With given scientific research, where do you put the probability of global warming to be true? 100% , 70%, 30%, 10%?

And now on a separate note, where do you put the probability of you having another car accident in next month? I am sure less than 10%, Where do you put probability of your country getting attacked by another big army? I am sure less than 10%. But yet we buy car insurance. And we support a hundreds of billions of dollars of expenditure on new fighter planes and boats.

Considering the catastrophe global warming can cause, and considering that most of the scientific community is in agreement of it’s seriousness, shouldn’t we be a little more concerned?

On this the individual pointed me out to a news clipping that said “there is not appreciable variation in earth average temperature over a last couple decades.”

Yes, there has not been appreciable variation. But the extreme temperatures are being more extreme. From livability of this planet point of view, average temperature does not tell the whole story. If your head is in a furnace at 140 degree f and your feet are in a freezer at 0 deg f, then average temperature of your body is 70 deg f. But that hardly means you are comfortable.

Growing up in India, I have personally witnessed tremendous expansion of cities and I believe that is happening all over the world. From the dawn of industrial age, which is barely 200 years, humans have managed to wipe out half the forests on this earth. And this has got to give in somewhere.

In India and I believe in most other countries, the push to counter global warming comes from conservative part of society. Because conservatives are more responsive to threat perception. But surprisingly it’s opposite in USA. In USA, the conservative part of society seems to be more opposed to the idea of action against global warming.

Why? The feeling you have while defending your country is “It’s my country and it’s the only country I have. I must protect this”. Why does this feeling not scale to the planet. It’s our planet and it’s the only planet I have at least so far. Why people are more responsive to the threat to their religion or country but not to their planet?

When you think of leaving your kids some wealth, do not forget to leave them clean environment. Otherwise  the piece of property and the fat bank account are of no use when there is no air to breathe.



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