First of all, I do believe global warming is, regrettably, a very real problem that will eventually lead to some horrific obstacles to our culture’s way of life. As far as I can tell, the science is irrefutable and denying it seems to simply be a way to justify our damaging habits. That said, what I’m curious about is how the existence or absence of global warming became such a point of contention, and what it is exactly that doubters intend to accomplish by disproving it. When's the last time someone watched a documentary on global warming, immediately decided to change some daily habit because of what they learned, and was then ridiculed for the damaging new practice they'd acquired. Most such lifestyle changes in fact, are not only likely to help slow global warming, but often have several other positive side effects. So, if these changes are all good and positive, what exactly are we arguing over? Since this is a blog, not a book, I’m going to highlight just a couple commonly discussed issues which are often brought up in the context of global warming:
Reduce Meat Consumption?: It has been claimed that approximately 18% of all greenhouse gases are related to livestock, due partially to methane's effectiveness (20x that of CO2) in trapping heat in the atmosphere. This knowledge, coupled with health and animal rights movements, has helped reduce the average American's meat consumption by 10% since 2004 (keep in mind our population continues to grow, so this does NOT translate to a 10% reduction in gases produced).
Environmental Benefits: Reduced greenhouse gases
Other Benefits: Reduced risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses, Financial benefits
Downsides: Less stuffing our faces with animals
Buy Local?: Shopping local should be a no-brainer (at least when possible). This applies to goods far beyond food, and is generally preached in regard to bolstering the local economy. Shopping locally is important with food specifically because local very often means Fresh. So much of our produce is picked from the plant far before it's ready, and ripened with calcium carbide and ethylene gas, among other methods. These methods not only limit the food's vitamins and nutrients, but have not been proven to be completely safe either. The best way to avoid this is by shopping from local, organic producers whose produce you know is fresh.
Environmental Benefits: Reduced greenhouse gases via decrease in shipping distances
Other Benefits: Boost to local economy, More nutritious and flavorful food
Downsides: Sometimes more expensive than mass-produced alternatives
SUPPORT NEW ENERGY, NOT OIL?: This is where we get into much bigger government policy and funding issues, lobbyist interference, foreign relations etc. The intricacies of which are admittedly above my pay grade. The simple truth however, is that fossil fuels are finite. Any politician is aware enough to at least provide lip-service to the idea of developing means of alternative and sustainable energy. Unfortunately, we are a culture that needs immediate results, and a policy change that would result in greater funding for new energy while increasing fuel costs would be far too much of a political risk. Even if the masses were capable of understanding and supporting such a change, oil companies have far too much leverage for that to happen. Basically, everyone knows we should, but not enough of us are willing to make sacrifices in the meantime.
Environmental Benefits: Reduced greenhouse gases, Cleaner air, Less polluted oceans
Other Benefits: Future economic security by leading new energy development, Increased health via less exposure to pollutants, Lower energy costs in long-term, Maybe even more exercise from not driving your car when gas prices go up
Downsides: Possible increase in energy costs in short-term (gasoline, heating etc.)
If all of the steps we can take to reduce our impact on global warming are resoundingly positive changes on several fronts, how about for once we focus on what we all agree on rather than our differences? Hoax or Truth, efforts to slow global warming will be beneficial environmentally, economically, nutritionally, and socially.
Conversely, if in fact global warming were proven to be a hoax, the fallout would be nothing but detrimental. People would feel less responsibility for their own actions, momentum behind developing alternative energy would decline, and the entire environmental movement would suffer a tremendous setback, leaving future generations with a horribly polluted and dying world that we had a chance to save.
Let's focus on the future, rather than this pointless, fruitless witch-hunt.