Monday, October 01, 2007

Dispatch Editorial page honcho says global warming is not such a big deal

Columbus Dispatch editorial page head-honcho Glenn Sheller shows his conservative colors in a column in the Sept 30th Dispatch. Paraphrasing, he says that global warming isn't really such a big deal, and that "alarmists" such as Al Gore should step aside and allow "reasonable people" to debate the "trade-offs" of global climate change.

This is not a new tactic by those on the right. As I stated in this post on my personal Blue Ohio Blog back in February, since the righties and their allies in the fossil fuel industry have failed in their attempt to convince the American public that global climate change is a myth, they have happened upon a new strategy of turning the entire issue into a giant cost/benefit analysis and concluding that its not worth fixing. That's what Sheller means by "trade-offs."

The problem with this strategy is twofold. One, we don't know what the costs and benefits will be, because every day scientists are discovering more and more effects of climate change. Two, it is extremely difficult to assign a "cost" or a "benefit" to some of the effects of global climate change. If you happened to pick up a copy of this months' National Geographic, then you know that the additional CO2 in our atmosphere is being sucked into the oceans, changing their pH, making it more acidic. Pretty soon it will be too acidic to support marine life. Guess what, kids, those things called fish we used to catch out of our waterways? Eh, their gone. What "cost" do you put on that when you do your cost/benefit analysis? National Geographic also interviews scientists (presumably not paid by the fossil fuel industry) who estimate that if left unchecked, global climate change could easily kill off 40% of the species that exist on planet Earth today. What "cost" do you assign to that? How about the human deaths caused this summer by a brain-eating amoeba that grows in warm fresh water lakes? (No, not making this up, see CNN story here) What happens if Lake Erie gets warm enough that the amoeba grows in the Lake? Sorry, Cleveland, you need a new water supply. How's that factor in to that good ol' cost-benefit analysis, there, Glenn?

What "reasonable people" would be doing, instead of performing cost/benefit analyses, is recognizing that since we're going to run out of fossil fuels anyway, and since acquiring these fuels involves either giving oodles of cash to Middle Eastern dictators (who then give it to terrorists like Osama bin Laden) or literally removing mountains from places like West Virginia to get at coal, that's time for us to move away from them. Every day, scientists are working to develop green energy. Perhaps the Dispatch editorial page should use its ink to encourage Ohio's government to invest in green energy in the upcoming energy bill, instead of suggesting we allow "reasonable people" to debate the "trade-offs" of something we don't know nearly enough about to even be discussing what to trade for what.