Being that today is Earth Day ’08 I thought it appropriate to weigh in on this whole climate change thing that’s all the rage these days. I don’t know if you’ve heard about it or not, but apparently things are warming up around the globe (I think that’s where the term “global warming” comes from). Glaciers are melting, tropical storms are increasing, and cuddly, man eating polar bears are losing their habitat. At least according to Al Gore and who am I to argue with the inventor of the Internet. Of course there are those who would disagree with ol’ lock box Al, for a variety of reasons I would imagine. Some on political grounds, some on moral grounds, some on weather-is-cyclical grounds, some because they just don’t think too highly of the almost-President.
I’m not here to argue that global warming is real or it isn’t. To be perfectly honest I don’t know. It does appear like something may be going on, global climate wise, but is it the human impact, or, to use the trendy buzzword of the day, footprint that is causing changes or is it merely cyclical weather patterns? I’m guessing that a cyclical weather pattern goes a pretty long time before completing its cycle, making it a little tricky to accurately determine whether (ha, ha, whether) or not we’re seeing a pattern. If a weather pattern is, say, 100 years long, how accurate and scientific are the century-old records documenting the other side of this cycle? We do have something a little more reliable than some old farmers almanac I hope. Assuming we do, or even using anecdotal evidence, we should be able to get a reasonably good idea. So maybe it is just a pattern.
On the other hand, ever since the industrial revolution human beings have been spouting all kinds of gunk into the air, much of that time without giving it a second thought. With the rise of an industrial, global economy, particularly in China and India, where more and more people are able to have and drive cars and travel on jet airplanes the amount of pollutants has had to have risen even further, right? I mean, that makes logical sense. So, can we really say that all of that won’t have an impact on the earths environment? I don’t think we can. It has to be having some impact, no?
But the question still remains, how much of an impact does it have and what to do about it? I’m not an expert on any level, and I don’t keep up with all of the latest goings on in this debate, but here are my uninformed thoughts anyway. For those on the extreme global-warming-is-real-and-we’ll-all-be-underwater-in-five-years-when-the-ice-caps-melt side that want to slap all kinds of restrictions on everything that emits anything, they need to take a deep breath (of course, they’d retort that taking a deep breath of today’s toxic air is akin to committing suicide). You can’t just restrict without restraint even if your intentions are good. There are very real and very important economic issues at work here. Companies can be hurt, jobs can be lost, and if people aren’t working and don’t have money in their pockets, saving the shrinking ice caps takes a backseat to saving their shrinking waistlines. The reason the Kyoto deal was no good is that it didn’t include America’s likely economic rivals for the foreseeable future, the aforementioned China and India. If we restrict ourselves so much while those nations, and others on the industrial-economic rise, continue to spew junk from their smokestacks with impunity while they out produce us, that spells bad news. Should America be a leader on this issue? Sure, it’s almost always good for the world when America leads, but it has to lead wisely.
In the other camp, the global-warming-is-a-farce types, to them I would say, “Ok, maybe, but is recycling and finding alternative’s to polluting fossil fuels really so bad?” To which they would respond, “Well, I guess not, but we can’t cripple America’s economy by doing those things.” To which, obviously, I would agree. The problem, which I suppose is always the problem when things get political, is finding that common ground where solutions are born.
Someone I respect, and who would probably put themselves in the “farce”camp, said something interesting to me once, “The arrogance of man to think that he could destroy the planet and even more so to think he can save it.” This is a good point. No matter how hard we try, we are not capable of destroying or saving this world. That is God’s realm. The book of Genesis tells us that He decided when it was created and the book of Revelations tells us that He will decide when to destroy it. As hard as we try, we can do neither. However, the Bible also tells us to be good stewards of the earth. To use it, yes, but not abuse it. We can’t destroy it, but we could sure mess it up. We can’t save it, but we can affect how nice of a place it is to live in.
People on various sides of the debate are starting to come together I think, which has to be a good thing. It’s important to remember that just because you recycle that doesn’t make you some tree hugging, hippie and just because you prefer an economically feasible policy that doesn’t make you a fat cat, robber-baron. If we can all agree on one thing however, it’s that the color green has gotten a little overexposed.