Friday, May 30, 2008

I Hate the Debate on Global Warming

“But, Marcus,” I can hear my friends say, “aren’t you, like, some sort of environmentalist? You like to talk about saving the planet and animals and crap, shouldn’t you welcome a debate about what might be a serious environmental issue?”

You might think so. I thought so. However, lately I’ve been involved in too many discussions online and reading too many editorials and stuff. People’s views and opinions have really made me realize that this issue must be dropped from public debate as soon as possible.

No, I don’t really believe that. But seriously people; this is getting ridiculous. I have come to a point were I honestly don’t care about the debate about global warming anymore.

I personally think that man-made global warming seems to be a fact. All the most credible research suggests that it is happening, that we are causing it and that it will most probably cause a global catastrophe. But I don’t care.

The reason that I don’t care anymore are all the (apparently millions and millions of people) who are somehow outraged at every mention of global warming, as well as the people who are outraged about entirely different things and blame it all on other people’s “belief” in global warming.

As soon as oil prices are mentioned there is usually someone saying that those damned environmentalists and their myth about man-made global warming are to blame for the current prices. Whenever someone talks about research into alternative fuels it seems like it’s necessary for someone to pop up and say something like “This research is wasted money; global warming is all a lie!” And when people say anything at all about conservation there always seem to be someone willing to claim that trying to conserve resources and the environment is just wasted effort, since global warming “has been proved to be a false”.

I have seen a remarkable number of arguments along the lines of “Those environmentalist freaks conspire to bring us back to the Stone Age with their myth about global warming.”

Yeah, that’s right. You’ve found out the brilliant evil plan. It’s a worldwide conspiracy between scientists from various fields who plan to set technology back by willingly deceiving you about something they call “global warming”. I especially love the part of the plan where they want to spend more money on research on new fuels and new modes of transportation. That’s a brilliant plan to set back technological progress.

Or wait, maybe not.

The thing is, it doesn’t really matter if global warming is happening or not. It doesn’t matter if it is man-made or not. Or, well, it does matter, but not in the way those people seem to think. Today, very many seem to think that if man-made global warming is just proven false, there is no reason to be more conservative in the usage of fossil fuels. My point is however that our use of fossil fuels must be phased out regardless of global warming. Global warming does nothing more than provide some additional encouragement for that.

Regardless of global warming, usage of fossil fuels still is a large threat to the environment. Combustion of fossil fuels provides us with plenty of pollutants, like sulfur dioxide and heavy metals. It gives us an ample supply of acid rain that affects both the natural environment and man-made structures. It releases many different toxins and even radioactive materials into the atmosphere and it’s just generally very unhealthy.

Oil refineries pollute air and water. Oil drilling out in the ocean gives us a decent amount of damage to sea living organisms and oil spills from tankers and the like have repeatedly proven that they can provide even more damage. Coal mining in its different incarnations has ruined both parts of the landscape and coal miners for centuries. And I could go on and on about the environmental impact of both the extraction, processing and usage of fossil fuels.

But hey, that’s just the environment; it’s just about the air we breathe, the water we drink, the land we live on and our fellow animals that co-inhabit the world with us. People have always thought there are way more important issues than protecting such insignificant little things like that.

But those who don’t really want to worry about ecology can often worry about economy. And while humans breathe (preferably clean) air, our current economy lives and breathes oil. We have nothing but slightly educated guesses as to when our supply of oil will run out.

What if we were to find some alternative energy sources before then? What if we would try to lower our consumption already, lengthening the time our supply lasts and giving us better chances of having time to create a society that will survive even after it runs out?

Ok, I know, I know, that is just crazy ideas. A throng of Internet forum-visitors have convinced me that only crazy leftist subversives with an evil agenda want people to stop driving the most energy inefficient SUVs imaginable. Only weird, hippie-environmentalists want people to take the bike or bus once in a while. And only wasteful, narrow minded people who don’t understand the economy wants us to put a bit of effort and money into researching alternatives to our quickly diminishing oil reserves.

Of course we only promote such ideas out of evil spite. Naturally it’s because we want people to suffer by making them use smaller, slightly slower cars or perhaps even get some exercise. We want to destroy the economy by going against the large car manufactures and oil companies. We’re just evil.

Or maybe we want such things because we care about what the world will look like in the near future, not only about our convenience, pleasure and our wallets today. It’s a toss-up; it could be either one.

Either way, whatever the evil agenda of the dirty environmentalists is, I am tired, royally so, of the rhetoric of these “global warming skeptics” who always manage to make it all about global warming. They just keep on saying that every environmental issue is moot just because global warming is (according to them) a myth. Whenever someone wants them to spend even a little bit of effort or money on something that can benefit the survival of our ecology they can immediately say “Oh, you’ve been suckered into that belief in global warming too?”

I’ve seen it happen many times. The heated debate on warming has put all other environmental concerns on the back-burners of the minds of the public and that has given ample opportunities to anyone who wants to defend excessive use of fossil fuels. Whenever someone complains about fuel consumption of a new vehicle or something, someone else can throw out a “Global warming is a lie!”-arguments, and the discussion stops immediately, since everyone are so very tired of discussing global warming.

So just lay it off. I know global warming may destroy our civilization, ruin our ecology and in the extension kill more or less all of us, but talking about it sure doesn’t seem to be helping.

When I was a kid we got to see lots of pictures of animals struggling for life covered in oil, instead of charts over temperatures and sea levels. I hope we can go back to those pictures of dying animals; they always seemed to work better than this tiresome global warming debate.