Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What if I'm wrong...

Despite some pretty convincing evidence, there are those who do not believe we are experiencing climate changes, or that if we are, human activity has nothing to do with it. Several years ago, I was in that camp myself (or at least, I had some doubts) so I do understand that not everyone agrees. That's fine and I'd rather not debate the validity of the claims on this particular post (don't worry; I'm sure it will come up again). However, even back when I wasn't so sure myself, my thinking was that in any case, the things we should do to help mitigate anthropogenic climate change are the very same things that make our world a cleaner and more pleasant place to live. Why argue about global warming/climate change when any half-way reasonable person would have to agree that polluting the only planet we have to live on is a bad idea?

For the past couple of years I've been reading a fascinating blog - No Impact Man. The author of that blog undertook the following challenge:

For one year, my wife, my 2-year-old daughter, my dog and I, while living in the middle of New York City, are attempting to live without making any net impact on the environment. In other words, no trash, no carbon emissions, no toxins in the water, no elevators, no subway, no products in packaging, no plastics, no air conditioning, no TV, no toilets…
It was a fascinating journey to read about and he has a documentary about the experience coming out soon. I can hardly wait to see it.

Today he wrote a blog post answering a question he has received from readers:

I get emails from people, every so often, asking what I would say and feel if I was wrong about climate change. What would I say if, after dedicating years of my life to bringing attention to the problem, I found out there was no problem.

He starts by saying:

Well, first, of course, I would praise God in thanks that we have no catastrophe to contend with.
He then goes on to list a number of positive benefits that would come as a result of taking the steps necessary to deal with climate change. As an asthmatic whose children are also asthmatic, #4 was one I can definitely relate to:

#4. I am glad the millions of children who suffer from asthma can now breathe easier thanks to the fact that we aren't pumping the air full of toxins from our exhaust pipes and smokestacks.
And as a Christian who takes seriously the words of Christ to love our neighbor and care for the weak among us, I appreciate #11:
#11. I am glad that we have rejected the philosophies of survival of the fittest and competition for resources as driving philosophies and have instead embraced a philosophy of compassion and justice.

The blog post is not long and I'd encourage everyone to read it. He ends by turning the question around and asking how people will feel if we do nothing about climate change and it turns out they were wrong. As my daughter so often says, if climate change isn't real we just end up with a cleaner planet but if it is and we do nothing about it, we're screwed.


Colleen said...

No toilets? How did he do this?

Deanna said...

When he wrote that plan for his experiment, he intended to use a composting toilet. I'm not sure if he ever got that worked out but at one point he admitted that he couldn't figure out how to accomplish that in a small Manhattan bathroom so they were following the old saying, “when it’s yellow, let it mellow”.

Lisa Sharp said...

Well of course I agree. I have yet to have anyone be able to tell me why this isn't true. :)

Eco Yogini said...

Came here via your comment left on his blog post :)

I went along my way for a few years thinking "well only a small minority of crazies refute climate change", until last year. When a colleague of mine actually, strongly, does not believe. He reminds me a lot of the Rick commenter's position. He sent me a few links and i was shocked to discover that there is a whole SLEW of people out there that don't believe climate change exists.
And are voting against it.

I also thought Colin's post nicely summarized my thoughts and feelings about the issue :)

Glad to have found your blog!

Deanna said...

Eco Yogini: Other than our kids, I think all of my family and my husband's as well do not believe that climate change is occurring or that if it is, it has nothing to do with human activity. And that's fine. I just cannot understand how people can deny that we should still take steps to protect the environment because those steps make for a healthier and more pleasant place to live.