Thursday, June 21, 2007

Solution to Global Warming - and Cooling Too

Joem, a recent visitor to one of my earlier posts, left this comment:

I am willing to support an advocacy campaign that is in support of global warming but I think that the issue has been muddied. Politics has taken our attention off the real issue. The issue is not whether global warming is real or not. Conserving our planet is more important than debating about the genuineness of global warming.

I replied:

Preservation of our planet can only be accomplished through the elimination of poverty. Elimination of poverty can only be accomplished by the increased production of, and the productive use of, a lot more energy than we are currently capable of producing. Meeting future energy needs will require the improved use of coal by filtering out true pollutants (CO2 is not a pollutant) and the increased use and improvement of nuclear power production.

Alternative energy sources will remain expensive diversions from meeting energy needs. Resources spent in fruitless attempts to prevent global warming (and soon, to prevent global cooling), are resources wasted that could have been used beneficially to enable humankind to do what humankind does best: adapting to a constantly changing environment.

The wealthier humankind becomes, the better it can adapt to change. Sea levels have risen over 400 feet in the past 21,000 years. Building sea walls and dikes are much more cost effective and humane than trying to freeze human development in a low-energy use mode (thereby condemning the bulk of humanity to continue living short, nasty, brutish lives).

Already we can see positive trends associated with increasing wealth: birth rates are decreasing rapidly in many developing countries, which eventually will reduce population growth and the human impact on scarce resources. At the moment, half the population of the world lives in poverty and despoils their environment because they have no alternative for survival.

Deforestation by man, not global warming, caused Mount Kilimanjaro to lose 45% of its glacier cover before 1940. Primitive slash and burn agricultural methods, not global warming, caused the spread of many deserts even during the Little Ice Age (1300 to 1900 AD).

So, Joem, in a way you are right. Global warming is not the real issue, but it is not only diverting attention from the real issues to conserve our planet, it is even driving us away from taking the steps that would actually do some good: spreading economic freedom and thereby eliminating poverty.

The Earth doesn’t need armies of Chicken Littles constantly crying panic as the Earth continues along its constant path of change. A hefty dose of capitalism and democratic governments will enable humankind to adapt to change, and to lead longer, healthier, happier, and of course, more prosperous lives.

Enlightened self interest trumps government solutions every time it's tried.

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