"I'd like to see [opposing sides in the global warming debate] use definitive, scientific proof bolstering their opinions as opposed to them making quotes about statistics we have no way of proving. In the end, I really do not know which side to side with. I want to think global warming is real so we can get off our ass and react to changing it, but the skeptic inside me wants to disbeleive anything that may be politically driven."Shawn came back with this:
"To me, that really confuses what ultimately should be a simple argument that needs no very special episode of Nightline to resolve: do you want to do nothing and hope there is no such thing as global warming, or do you want to make an effort just in case? ... We don't need a real debate, because there shouldn't even be a debate! Special interest groups have made a no-brainer decision into something that somehow makes people conflicted..."Hinesy wrote: "the problem is, [global warming] isn't a dramatic effect, like the tsunami a year and a half ago. It's just this slow creeping death that is easy to ignore...so we ignore the shit out of it. It's silly."
Papadeas weighed in with: "How politicians play this is a different ballgame. I believe they are very biased and, on one end, side ideologically with industry, and on the other play Cassandra without hard data and stats to show the ignorant public."
Craig wrote: "There should be no debate. Pollution is bad, whether or not it's starting hurricanes and whether or not doom is imminent. Let's clean it up, a-holes."
Finally, Heath posed this question: "My point is, if the lines being drawn on what is considered adequate and accepted amounts of pollution, which they most certainly are, who gets to decide. You know, I've heard answer number zero everytime I ask this, yet I see everyone tap dancing around it while flaunting their ideas of absolution. Then who, pray tell, decides? WHO?!"
For me, I think the government decides. It's the government's job to protect the public from things like this, so it's their duty to get educated on the issue of global warming (which is where climatologists come in) and work to fix the problem. If the folks in charge (i.e. Bush) are only talking to one side on the issue (i.e. Michael Crichton), and censoring people in their own government when the message is different than theirs, than we Americans are, once again, dealing with dangerous incompetence. I mean a NASA climatologist came out and said something drastic needed to be done in the next 10 years or global warming's end run would be irreversible, and the central sentences in his conclusions were rewritten by some 25-year old Bush flunkie to make them more equivocal. Just because our government is being horribly run at the moment, doesn't mean we should revel in its current weakness and say it should forever be ineffectual. When the American government works well, it is a great thing.
To offer a taste of the opinions being offered on the conservative side of this issue, I give you this: On "This Week with George Stephanopolous", George Will cast aspersions on the global warming uproar by a) citing America's supposed panic about "global cooling" back in the seventies and early eighties, and b) complaining that if something like the Kyoto treaty were signed onto by all of the industrialized nations, the world expenditure would be one trillion dollars for something that, according to him, may or may not have any basis. Will says that, at any point in planetary history, the earth is either warming or cooling. I think the climatologists would agree with him, but what I think Will is conveniently omitting from his pithy observation is how fast the planet's temperature's rising. That's what's got all the eggheads in a tizzy. I think spending 1 trillion dollars worldwide to get ourselves out of danger on this issue, isn't that big a deal, especially considering that, all by ourselves, we've spent a quarter of a trillion dollars on the Iraq war. Our old friend and teacher Dr. Lacy poo-pooed the idea of global warming by citing the fact that on a timeline of planetary history, the length of time humans have existed is relatively microscopic, and the length of time we've been capable of measuring the temperature worldwide barely atomic. Obviously, Lacy was taking the long view of things by saying, in essence, the planet can take whatever we dish out. (Which begs the question, "But can we humans take it?") But I can't imagine that all of these climatologists shouting dire warnings at us are taking the short view. I read recently that about 187 million years ago, global warming was not only a real thing, but killed off nearly every living thing on this planet -- making the dinosaur extinction pale in comparison. Average temperatures were well into the 100's. What the geologists/paleontologists don't know is what caused the warming.
I think part of the reason doubt still exists about global warming is the media's often abyssmal record on accurately predicting global-scale calamities. I remember when acid rain was going to change the landscape of this country. Made the covers of Time and Newsweek. Supposedly, the acid rain would wreak havoc by defoliating trees and doing bad things to my skin if I was ever caught out in it. More recently, I was told by all so-called responsible media outlets to stock up and take shelter for 'Y2K'. Neither ever materialized. Maybe I'm being short-sighted and naive by suggesting global warming transcends this kind of bad reporting from the media, and a group-think herd mentality on the part of scientists, but I suspect I'm not. I think global warming's a very real thing.
To correct the problem, the onus is on governments to regulate businesses. Fareed Zakaria suggested (on the same "This Week" show I alluded to earlier), taxing the amount of carbon a plant puts into the air. The more carbon a plant puts out, the more they have to pay the government. If the government offers businesses the choice: operate cleanly or give us money, I guarantee you the company will start operating cleanly. Heath asks "who decides the acceptable level of pollution?" and the answer is, again, our government, or at least they should. And if the government shouldn't have the power to decide acceptable levels of pollution, than who should? No one? Should that question be left to the free market?
Anyway, I love reading everyone's opinions on this issue. Keep 'em coming. More tomorrow.