The Earth Will Be Just Fine….
Something’s been nagging at me for a while regarding climate change arguments and this seems like a good time and place to share it. This post is gonna be a little rougher around the edges than my usual style, but please bear with me.
Namely, global warming has been very easy to characterize as just another environmental issue. In fact, you’re seeing a lot of the same arguments, by the same enviro groups, pushing for climate legislation and, say, saving the whales. But climate change is a fundamentally different issue, on an exponentially greater scale. Most traditional environmental causes are laudable and well-intentioned, but frankly they aren’t that huge in the grand scheme of things. Even things as egregious and horrific as cutting the top off a mountain to get at coal deposits a little more cheaply have a negligible effect on the long-term health of the planet and its inhabitants writ large.
Catastrophic climate change is a different story. It affects the whole planet in ways that will impact all of its inhabitants, including and especially the more biologically complex ones. But what’s really bugging me is the sense of enormous hubris it takes to think we can hurt the planet. To be clear, the Earth will continue to exist unless it gets hit by a gigantic asteroid or until it is swallowed up by the Sun in 10 billion or so years. It has an incredible ability to self-adapt to changing environmental (in the dictionary sense) circumstances both internal and external. Changes in temperature and atmospheric composition happen from time to time; after all, the land was completely uninhabitable for most of the Earth’s history, but the sea has been teeming with a dizzying array of microscopic creatures for billions of years. Yes, the planet will be just fine no matter how much carbon gets spewed into the atmosphere.
No, what is at grave risk from catastrophic climate change and other forms of extreme environmental degradation is us. Humans. Catastrophic climate change would best be characterized as a mass extinction event, one which all evidence indicates is already underway since humans became the world’s dominant species. Guess what types of organism are generally most likely to be wiped out in a mass extinction? Yup, the most complex ones. Among which would be homo sapiens.
In other words, my core message on climate change is simple. The whales are nice, but stop climate change to SAVE THE PEOPLE.