I was asked to fill out a survey about a week ago from the office of the POTUS asking what are the most important issues facing our country today. My answer was that there is only one really important issue which is that of our extinction. Maybe they were listening to my ranting because lately I have seen a lot more messages from the White House about climate change. But then today I was reading some link bait somewhere about the argument against climate change (a.k.a. global warming) and got angry enough at politicians and some other people that I decided to research when it was exactly that I first understood the severity of the problem man is facing. So I was looking at this timeline and trying to ballpark a year at least. I decided it must have been late '60s since by the time we landed on the moon I already was well aware of some of the published data. (Since I was basically 10 or 12 at the time I guess I was a little bit precocious but also my friends had older brothers who made us very aware of world events.) I was about to write a long blog post about all the evidence and then remembered that while I was still in grade school I had formulated one simple argument that is as perfectly valid now as it was back then. It goes like this:
Why not error on the side of safety? Even if you don't believe that we are changing the planet, why not clean up our pollution, stop our emissions, and all our other environmental effects anyway? In the '60s and '70s there was not a consensus of over ninety-seven percent of climate scientists like there is today. But whether or not humans are causing climate change is not true based on the numbers of people who believe it. It is simply true or false. And if you look at any of the hard facts you will see that we are having an impact on the planet that can be measured. Humans have a long history of being wrong even when the majority thinks they are right. But the bottom line is: Can we afford to do nothing when being wrong means a global disaster and extinction for everyone and our children?