If you've been reading Mapawatt Blog for awhile now you may have noticed that we don't discuss Climate Change all too often. Our goal is to give solid advice for the causes of energy and water conservation, clean energy production, energy efficiency, and sustainable living. We do this because we believe in the merits of tackling these issues. If the earth was cooling, rotating the opposite direction, or inhabited by zombies we would still give this same advice.
The point here is that we try and stay outside the Climate Change debate because sometimes people get too caught up in the debate and can't see the forest through the trees (this is especially true if they have plans on cutting the trees down).
The advice we give adheres to the three principles below:
- Save energy and water because it saves you money
- Save energy and water because it improves the environment (with or without Climate Change, this is true)
- Live more sustainably because it improves your life, the lives of those around you, and the lives of those yet born (side note: The original post had "yet unborn" and here is my sister's response: "so are you talking about future zombies". Thanks for the heads up sis!)
These are facts. There is no debate about these principles.
You may be a Sustainability Scrooge and say "Bah Humbug" to living sustainably. If this is you aren't the type of person for this blog, you are probably an unhappy person, and there is a chance the emptiness you sometimes feel inside of you is due to the lack of connection you feel with those around you and the earth. But I digress....
Here is what we will say on Climate Change: There are few natural systems that we know of that will continue to operate in harmony when an external force is acting on them. The climate is a natural system. The CO2 and other greenhouse gasses we are pumping into this system are an external force. This has or will eventually cause the climate to deviate from its natural state. We are not defining "eventually" nor quantifying "deviate". We are only saying that we believe in the laws of nature and also believe in the Butterfly effect (no, not the movie with Ashton Kutcher).
But if you will agree that deviation from natural equilibrium occurs when an external force is continually acting on a system, you may also agree that this is a problem. We are introducing an unnatural amount of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, and this will have an some kind of affect on the climate. This much is fact. This is our stance on Climate Change.
This same line of thought was written about by Thomas Friedman on Wednesday in his column for the New York Times titled, Going Cheney on Climate. In the column he says:
This is not complicated. We know that our planet is enveloped in a blanket of greenhouse gases that keep the Earth at a comfortable temperature. As we pump more carbon-dioxide and other greenhouse gases into that blanket from cars, buildings, agriculture, forests and industry, more heat gets trapped.
What we don’t know, because the climate system is so complex, is what other factors might over time compensate for that man-driven warming, or how rapidly temperatures might rise, melt more ice and raise sea levels. It’s all a game of odds. We’ve never been here before. We just know two things: one, the CO2 we put into the atmosphere stays there for many years, so it is “irreversible” in real-time (barring some feat of geo-engineering); and two, that CO2 buildup has the potential to unleash “catastrophic” warming.
When I see a problem that has even a 1 percent probability of occurring and is “irreversible” and potentially “catastrophic,” I buy insurance. That is what taking climate change seriously is all about.
There does need to be a debate on how aggressive we need to be in tackling Climate Change and what the available solutions are. Mapawatt Blog will continue to dole out sound advice related to energy and water conservation and efficiency and sustainable living no matter the outcome in Copenhagen (COP15) or if the world suddenly entered into an ice age.
The quantities and time-frames are still debatable, but it is fact that our (humans living on the earth) actions are having some sort of impact on our climate. As soon as we can accept the notion that a natural system is impacted by external forces, it becomes easier to frame the debate of what to do about it in a new light.