Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Adaptation is the only answer

Robert Bryce has posted this thoughtful essay on the next step in the debate over climate.  Irregardless of the perspective of skeptics, Bryce suggests that the public relations war is done and dusted:
  • ...the science no longer matters, because it has become so rancorous and so politicized.
  • Anyone who dares to question the group think about global warming is immediately branded as a heretic/sellout/ignoramus or worse. Questioning the IPCC's conclusions can be a bad career move for scientists who study climate.
  • To me, the central question, and the one that few are willing to discuss in depth, is: Then what? That is, if political leaders agree with Gore and others who believe too much carbon dioxide is bad, then what are we going to do?
  • ...when it comes to global warming and energy consumption, there are three main issues to be addressed: technology, morality, and the scale of global energy use.
In so doing, Bryce forces the issue beyond the typical media hysteria and focuses his discussion on the implications that arise from any changes to climate:
  • even if we desire to, do we have the technology to control climate?
  • do we have alternative energy options that are economically viable?  Are they viable options for the poorer parts of the globe, those parts still embarking on the basics of economic development?
  • what are the moral implications of the developed world enforcing its world view on the majority of the planet still aspiring to achieve the levels of progress we now seem to take for granted and that some zealots want to demonize as cancerous?
Bryce succinctly points out that energy consumption will continue to increase throughout the near future.  For exponents of AGW the reality is that they must begin thinking in terms of adaptation strategies and not just expunging their perceived nemesis: oil.
In many ways climate change is a non-issue.  Increased levels of energy demand from developing countries will act as an added economic stimulus for energy efficiency and the innovation of technologically derived alternatives.  The distinction is whether we allow the market place to develop alternatives to lowering our carbon footprint through the creation of sustainable adaptative strategies, or if we persist in seeking to impose dogmatically sound but uneconomic, unrealistic and ultimately non-sustainable policy options that appease green sentiment but entail widespread suffering and economic hardship.
Sustainability is a response to change that is creative and empowering.  Too often it is mis-construed as conservation that mistakes piety for effectiveness.