17 April 2010

Our Children Deserve Compassion, Not a Cavalier Wait-and-See Attitude

As some of you know, I try hard to not read comments on climate change and climate science blogs and websites, but sometimes succumb. I'm glad I did this time, because something has finally become quite clear to me — and that is the uncompassionate "reasoning" that underlies the deniers' demand that they be allowed to not believe in the impacts of climate change.

Here's how one such person put it recently in response to an article on Grist called Tea Party supporters far less informed about climate change than general public:
The point you are missing is climate science is NOT a hard science when it comes to predicting the consequences of any warming. All of these predictions are extremely dependent on the economic assumptions made and there is no reason to believe that any of the scenarios used have any connection to what will actually happen.

My reference to the economic studies simply illustrates that it is wrong to claim that AGW will be catastrophe. It could be. We could have a pandemic or an asteroid strike too. But we cannot know and reasonable people can disagree and it is wrong to claim that people who reject the catastrophe meme are 'uninformed.'

Do you see why I keep calling for compassion? I haven't often said (or even implied) it, but I am saying that our culture relies too much on the head, on reason — and not enough on the heart. Indeed, people like this aren't even willing to use their eyes!

This fellow is right that some climate "science" isn't hard science. That's the modelling mainly (more math and statistics and mucking about with computers, it seems to me ;-) — which is constantly being shown to be underestimating what is going to happen, especially since much of what was predicted is already happening! For example, some of the climate change models don't include feedbacks or synergistic effects or even biological/ecological considerations. But the other science — the laws of physics that tell us the atmosphere will continue to warm as long as we're pumping greenhouse gases into it — that is hard science. We cannot escape the laws of the universe.

The precautionary principle therefore tells us to approach this uncertain certainty (it is NOT certain uncertainty), not with the cavalier "and an asteroid could strike us, too," but with "if there's any risk at all to our children and their future, we should be doing all we can to avoid this catastrophe."

Please, folks, let's keep the children in our hearts, and our hearts at the centre of all our deliberations on global climate change.

Disclaimer: I am not American, so I don't really understand the terms Tea Party and Tea Baggers. I used to have tea parties with my dolls when I was a girl, and my British husband could probably be called a tea bagger, he likes his tea so much. But I haven't followed US events well enough to explain these terms to those not familiar with them.

Lovely photo by Darren Minke.

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I would appreciate hearing your thoughts or questions on this post or anything else you've read here. What is your take on courage and compassion being an important part of the solution to the climate change emergency?