I admit that I have deliberately avoided coverage of global warming in my blog.
My fellow Design News blogger, John Dodge, has received enormous feedback regarding his global warming posts (see “Global warming is manmade and it’s a real problem” and “Global warming is just a media scam, right Chuck?”). In particular, John asked the engineers and scientists among his readership to comment on whether they believe in global warming. As an engineer, I was compelled to answer John’s call and jump into the global warming fray, but I didn’t. Again, I have deliberately avoided global warming in my blog. Here is why.
The trouble with blogging is that once I hit the “submit” button, my opinion on global warming (or any other subject) becomes irreversibly branded into Cyber Space, and I have little hope of ever completely erasing what was written. As a researcher, I am trained to question everything; even statements that are “facts”. (Actually, the most interesting research often proves that scientific “facts” are sometimes false.) In science, “facts” are conditional; they are only true until someone uncovers a counter-example. If my opinion on global warming turns out to be wrong, I don’t want it hounding me for the rest of my days, misconstrued as a false statement of fact.
Global warming has become an incredibly black-and-white issue: either we are slowly cooking our planet OR the whole thing is a media scam. Plus, the intertwining of politics and science further complicates the issue. If global warming is real, who do we blame, and how will we punish them? If global warming is not real, what is to be done with all the scientists who have been “lying” to us? It is difficult to be objective when so much is riding on the outcome.
The bottom line is that I am not qualified to give you my opinion on global warming, and I am appalled by some of the reader comments following John Dodge’s posts, both for and against the issue. I don’t care how many Ph.D.s you have, I don’t care how many Google searches you have performed, and I don’t care what the aliens told you about global warming when they abducted you.
I have not read an exhaustive list of all scientific papers on global warming. Since I have not read them, I have not checked those papers for errors, omissions, or other inaccuracies that might invalidate the resulting conclusions. I have certainly not conducted the research myself to validate the findings. Neither have you. So, even if you do have an opinion on the subject, it is irresponsible to air it here as fact.
Whether global warming is real or a hoax, there are other compelling economic reasons to rapidly adopt renewable energy technologies and better manage the resources of our planet; for example see my post “Energy Technology is NOT a Bubble”. Ultimately, renewable energy will prove less expensive than conventional alternatives because at some point we will exhaust those non-renewable resources. In addition, pollution induced by poor resource management will prove so costly to clean up that sustainable approaches will eventually rule the day.
The global warming debate is critical to assessing how quickly we must act and how serious an environmental mess we will leave in our wake. I want to know the answer just as much as you. However, regardless of whether global warming is real or not, there is a need more fundamental than carbon control. We must somehow become a sustainable civilization, and mitigating global warming (whether real or imaged) via CO2 management is just one part of the larger picture.