There is an important discussion to be had about global warming. But we aren’t having it. A friend’s response to my last blog got me thinking about why the debate over climate change is so overheated and so unenlightening. The reason, I think, is simple: We have confused two different conversations – one scientific, the other political; one over, the other barely begun.
The scientific debate is over. There is no longer any doubt that global warming is real and that humans play a significant role in exacerbating it. Contrary assertions by corporate interests and right-wing zealots are self-serving hot air that diverts attention from the discussion we should be having, which is what to do about climate change. This is a question of politics, and everyone’s voice should be heard – even those who say we should do nothing. For there is a difference between doing nothing after debating the consequences and just sticking our heads in the sand. Perhaps, like the dinosaurs, our dominion over the earth is a transitory niche rather than evidence of our immortality, and there isn’t much we can do. Certainly, environmentalists’ admonitions that we live for the seventh generation must sound callous to those whose children are starving. Perhaps new technology will save us, or creative entrepreneurs. Perhaps we will change our lifestyles or our values. Perhaps we will simply adjust.
Just because the Flat Earth Society still exists doesn’t mean it should be part of the geography curriculum. We need to get real about climate change.