December 12, 2006

The irony of climate change forecasting

According to The Telegraph, a generally conservative British newspaper,

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says there can be little doubt that humans are responsible for warming the planet, but the organisation has reduced its overall estimate of this effect by 25 per cent.

After my earlier post on the climate change issue, I was "corrected" by a couple of people near and dear to me for allegedly going over to the other side. It was suggested that I would next be hanging a photo of George "The Decider" Bush on the wall or something.

Not so fast. Here is how the issue breaks down in my mind right now:

1. Some sort of climate change is happening.

2. But is it all due to human activity, or is some due to changes in solar radiation or other factors? That, to my mind, is where the debate seems to be.

3. Even if the answer to #2 were "not all," the push towards greater conservation, less reliance on fossil fuels, etc., is generally a Good Thing, unless . . .

4. It produces suppression of dissent or some kind of horribly totalitarian society.

Never forget the Law of Unintended Consequences. For instance, non-polluting, efficient cars would probably mean more urban sprawl, as it becomes cheaper and cleaner to drive more.

Dispersed wind farms in rural areas--like those in southeastern Colorado--mean more power lines across the landscape to carry electricity to the users, who are in cities.

And I am sure there will be more.

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