Global warming is not the issue here, dude. A new argument for cutting emissions.

Well, maybe it’s new.

Let’s get some things out in the open here. I accept the old arguments for the conclusion that global warming is occurring and that it is caused by humans. Ok–I feel better.

We could wrangle over the data and findings, and nay-sayers will tell you that it’s possible that the warming is not occurring or it’s not being caused by us. However, we can skip this debate and use a much better argument that should have the exact same consequences if we had all accepted the old argument for the conclusion that we should curtail our carbon emissions. The result should be that nay-sayers will accept the conclusion that thy should conserve energy and switch to renewable sources.
The new argument relies on premises that all sane people accept:

  1. Fossil fuel sources are practically finite, and they are not renewable in a useful way. We use them up at a rate that exponentially exceeds the rate at which dead things turn into oil, for example. In other words, we can’t wait around for new oil to pop up.
  2. As far as I know, nuclear materials fall in the same boat.
  3. As these non-renewable sources become scarcer, their prices will rise, and that rise is not in the self-interest of consumers.
  4. We are going to require energy sources that are renewable at a rate that keeps up with demand. This is also important for economic reasons.
  5. The sun, the wind, and wave power are all good candidates for sources presented in #3, and once the systems are in place, their carbon footprint is greatly smaller than systems relying on fossil fuels, etc. Solar energy, especially, is practically infinite. Of course, the sun will burn out, as I have discussed in OIL ON TITAN? SWEET!
  6. . So it is not absolutely infinite. But it should crank out sunlight as long as we can stick around on this planet, anyway. (And we don’t cloud the atmosphere….)

Though the technology is still in the infant stage, we should research these new systems as much as possible, and implement them as soon as possible.

Concerning 3, we will have to strike a compromise. I’m betting that systems involving solar, wind, etc., will not be able to be able to keep up with projected demand. That means that we will have to reduce demand and conserve. So, we will have to use CFLs, turn out the lights when we leave a room, inflate our tires, drive less, etc.

Here’s the kicker. Once we make the necessary switch to these “renewable” sources, we will find that our carbon emissions will drop anyway. But the new argument relies on relatively uncontroversial premises. Even if carbon emissions drop and the average global temperature happens to keep rising, we will still be in a better economic situation, because fossil fuels and nuclear fuels are practically finite and our reliance on them will become a royal pain in the economic ass.

Bottom line: it’s in everyone’s self-interest to use fossil fuels as little as possible and to make the switch to renewables. Yep–oil companies are going to get hit, but you should keep in mind that they’re going to have to play a new game, anyway. Their oil won’t last forever, and I guarantee you that they are already thinking about new investments.

Duh. They’re not stupid.

-MC Spanky McGee

2 thoughts on “Global warming is not the issue here, dude. A new argument for cutting emissions.

  1. A weak argument, IMO. I too believe that global climate change is an upcoming issue to worry about. But here’s some better points for why to take action:

    1. Conservation and increased energy efficiency save money.
    2. Sources of carbon dioxide are also sources of other pollutants and other environmental problems. For example, coal puts out alot of SOx and NOx gas, which contribute to photochemical smog and ground-level ozone (which is bad because inhaling ozone is toxic to animals and plants; we want ozone a couple of miles up), respecively. Coal is usually acquired through strip mining, which absolutely destroys entire ecosystems.
    3. If the US (or whatever country) decides to move away from fossil fuels for reason noted above (as well as your reason that it’s a finite resource), plus for the fact that it promotes foreign dependence on resources, then the US can instead come to the forefront of developing the new green technologies and make a profit by selling them to all of the other countries.

    etc.

  2. I agree with all those points.

    Make sure you understand the intent of the argument. I already agree that we cause global warming; I buy the old argument. But the skeptic cannot reasonably disagree with my points.

    So, I’m confused as to why you think it’s weak.

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