AGW – What would Jesus do?
Amongst Christians, it is a popular past-time to ask “What would Jesus do?” But let’s be a little more PC about this… What would Muhammad, or King Solomon, or Buddha, or Confucius do? In fact, what would Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, Rene Descartes, or John Locke do? Bringing things right up-to-date – so as not to exclude secular humanists – what would Richard Dawkins, Stephen J Gould, Carl Sagan, or Edward O. Wilson do?… [N.B. Although we certainly have not always done so, in the last 40 years the majority of people have come to accept that we do actually have a problem but, even if you do not, will you humour me for a moment; and read on?]…
In Douglas Adams’ Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, a super-computer is famously programmed to provide an answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?” If we were to programme a set of computers with the entire written records of each one of the above great thinkers, alongside a summation of the AGW problem, what answer (i.e. solution) would they come up with? Hopefully, it would be something more useful than “42”!
Let’s take the weirdness a little further, let’s say computer geeks crack the problem of Artificial Intelligence, and let’s say our computers are actually robots… What would happen if we locked them in a room and told them they had to reach a two-thirds majority decision on a course of action? What solution(s) would they propose?
One thing I think we can be sure of is this: If the marketplace of ideas had demanded that robots programmed with the thinking of people like Senator James Inhofe and “interpreter of interpretations” James Delingpole had also been allowed into the room; they would be ejected for being illogical (or blow-up trying to compute the data). So then, as before, that leaves us with all the world’s great thinkers, what course of action would they propose?
Of course, no-one can know, but one thing I am fairly certain of is this, they would not reach the conclusion that there is no cause for concern; and no need to act!
I know that it will come as unwelcome news to some (influenced by Dr. S. Fred Singer and Chartered Accountant Andrew Montford) to discover that this is in fact exactly what the IPCC was asked to do. The IPCC was not asked to come up with a plan to stall Western development, halt human progress, and facilitate worldwide authoritarian government. It was asked to try and come up with a plan to decouple environmental degradation from worldwide economic development.
Our biggest problem today remains (as ever it was) that those with a vested interest in the continuance of business as usual continually seek to water-down IPCC reports (so that they are not too challenging); and to downplay, deny or dismiss the scale or immediacy of the problem we face.
However, although the long night of deception has lasted between 20 and 40 years (depending on whether you think the campaign started in 1972 or 1992), I think dawn is fast approaching. The only trouble is that we may no longer have enough time to limit the damage in the way we once could have done. At a book launch for Requiem for a Species, given at the University of Queensland on 24 March 2010, Clive Hamilton put it this way:
“The presence of feedback effects and tipping points calls into question some of the most fundamental assumptions of climate change negotiations, including the belief that we can ‘overshoot’ to, say, 550 ppm and then work back to 450 ppm…, that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere can be stabilised at some level, and the belief that we can adapt to some given degree of warming.” (p.11 of 17)