The earth can become uninhabitable.

It’s an unfortunate fact that arguing with an idiot, or with someone who’s disingenuous, is substantially more difficult than arguing with an intelligent person.  David Roberts alludes to this at the beginning of his disturbing presentation about climate change, (which, by the way, is not as boring as you might think):

The reason most people would prefer drinking battery acid to arguing about climate change, I believe, is that to engage in such an argument is akin to debating about Obama’s birth certificate.  The other side views it as a game and will carelessly lob one disingenuous argument after another.  Since it’s much easier to manufacture a disingenuous argument than to unpack and refute the same, this is a game with which most people will quickly tire.

Until recently, I thought that global warming, while politically impossible to forestall, would be an unpleasant reality yet one to which the human race would adjust.  Places like Miami or Calcutta might become unlivable, but Minneapolis would get less snow and Canadian crops might even benefit from a longer growing season.  Or something like that. Unfortunately, as it happens, not only could the rise in temperatures create a planet right out of science fiction, but there are also positive feedback mechanisms within the climate system — e.g. melted sea ice causes more solar energy to be absorbed by the oceans which raises temperatures which melts more ice — that, once set in motion by human intervention, can begin to self-perpetuate and amplify climate change.  In other words, there’s a point beyond which runaway climate change becomes unstoppable.

Now, I’m not a scientist and don’t have the chops to argue with a determined quack who starts spouting off about sun-spots and mini-ice-ages.  But at the same time, this problem is important enough that it shouldn’t be entirely ignored by “non-specialists” out of a misplaced sense of humility.  For an introduction to the subject, David Robert’s talk is worth seventeen minutes of your time.

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3 Responses to The earth can become uninhabitable.

  1. Brian says:

    While you are correct that anybody denying climate change is a quack, there IS a real debate among scientists about how bad the warming will be.

    Some think runaway positive feedback loops will cause disaster, others think that warming will be a few degrees C, nothing (literally) earth shattering.

  2. Brian says:

    Sorry for double post, but I should note that I have no in-depth knowledge of this subject, but the above post is the impression I get when reading up on the subject.

  3. AnonymousDog says:

    Since you have already decided which is the ‘correct’ side, and that the “other side” is composed of “quacks” who view it as a game, why bother arguing at all?

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