Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thinking Reasonably About Reason

The technology to actively, accurately and effectively study climate change hasn't been around all that long. We can estimate, but cannot be sure of, what the Earth's temperature was like 1,000 years ago. One can look at the archaeological evidence in Jerusalem, say the Temple was destroyed, and point to the Roman victory over the Jews nearly 2,000 years ago as causes for the latter's dispersal around the civilized world, but that's because we have evidence, a lot of historical material to work with that backs this up. It's not so simple with global warming. That the Earth is warming, I'm inclined to agree with - I've stated that many times.

However, as I've also stated many times, I also think global warming is natural - how, after all, did past Ice Ages end but for global warming? Anyone who observes the planet Mars will note that the Martian polar ice caps expand and retract seasonally - is the industrial advancement of Little Green Men to blame, or natural processes affecting the Red Planet? And, hello, anyone thought about the planet Venus lately? That world is the poster-child for extreme global warming, and humanity is not even one whit to blame.

I find it incredibly funny that it is often the same people who accuse Israel of collectively punishing the Palestinians, and decry the Jewish state for this perceived slight, are the ones so inclined to place collective blame for climate change on the human race, letting Mother Earth off scot-free. If only these people held the Palestinians as collectively responsible for voting in Hamas and reaping what they've sown as they hold Israel for its defensive actions, or humanity for global warming. The world would be a much better place by far than it already is were they to do that.

There is an absence of reason in the world today. Former Vice President Al Gore, who has emotionally urged us to fight global warming by calling climate change an emergency that must be dealt with immediately (or else), is the author of a book titled "The Assault on Reason". I thumbed through it once; it seems like ages ago now, in New York. I put it down, hopefully never to open it again unless absolutely necessary, when I saw that Mr. Gore, in accusing others of the very same crime - demagoguery, scare-mongering - he is guilty of, was not inclined to admit guilt of it himself.

As I will urge time and time again, we have to think logically and reasonably about global warming, not rush to judgment about climate change. We are not experts on our world; there is still so much we do not know about it. We can take frozen cores out of Antarctic ice shelves, compare what we find in 10,000 year old air bubbles to the air and temperatures of our own time, and come to whatever conclusions we like. But while inherently correct in hard data, those conclusions could very well be wrong - because we're not looking at the world as it was 10,000 years ago from the viewpoint of 10,000 years ago. We're looking at it with our preconceived notions, our biases, of today.

Look at it this way: Those who claim to be experts about planet Earth, who are seemingly all-knowledgeable about its processes - even the ones yet to be understood - have only been around a number of decades. Widespread use of the automobile has only been around about as long; jet airplane travel is, when compared with the history of the wheel, still remarkably new. Massive factories belching out toxic smoke are, as well, a relatively recent occurrence in the long span of recorded human history. Climate-change demagogues are, furthermore, accusing those who probably haven't been alive as long as they have of being the ones primarily responsible for the ruination of our planet.

We are not the Masters of the World. We are not the Masters of the Universe. We live on the planet Earth, we wish to defend it, yes, as if it were our own Creation, but we cannot in a correct state of mind actually posit that we are the owners of it. We are merely caretakers, inseparable participants - wherever we go - of an ecosystem created for us; we influence the conditions of that environment, but we are responsible only for how we ourselves, in our own time, interact with it.

This self-flagellation regarding global warming does nothing to heal the planet, but much to polarize the people living upon it. We should not hold ourselves guilty for the "crimes" of our parents, our grandparents, or our great-grandparents; the Federal Republic of Germany may pay reparations to the State of Israel and the Jewish people for the Holocaust, but not because it is guilty of the crimes of Nazi Germany.

Like the Germans, we too can be remorseful for what past generations of our kind
have done, and "pay reparations" if we so choose (if it soothes our consciences, and helps us be mindful of the egregious mistakes humans can make), but doing so in the case of global warming only makes sense if we are mindful that when it comes to climate change, Nature, and Nature's God, are fully-engaged participants in the affairs of Man and the Earth.

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