Perception: The global warming debate resembles the evolution debate with two diametrically opposed views. The radical left environmentalists [atheists] and the global warming deniers [fundamentalists].
Reality: The middle ground in this debate consists of those who are agnostic as to the causes of global warming, but question why Western societies should adopt costly environmental reforms which are unlikely to be effective.
The enjoyable Freakonomics conglomerate got into trouble in their latest book, SuperFreakonomics, by even suggesting alternatives to costly environmental reforms. One example of the geoengineering ideas they presented:
‘Stratoshield’ is the controlled injection of sulfur dioxide into the stratosphere to cool ground temperatures, which mimics the natural cooling effects of a big volcanic eruption like Mount Pinatubo
Fast forward about a year and Matt Ridley’s article in the Wall Street Journal caught my attention when it stated the following:
Abrupt climate change has been a sporadic feature of history since long before the industrial revolution, mostly in the form of cooling caused by volcanoes. Some three decades after Laki [volcano eruption], 1816 was known as the “year without a summer” thanks to a big eruption in Indonesia. Even Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 caused a brief, though small, drop in world temperatures.
Total volcanic carbon-dioxide emissions, at up to 230 million tons a year, are less than 1% of fossil-fuel emissions of 32 billion tons a year…. But then the total carbon-dioxide emissions from biological sources—animals, plants, fungi and microbes—dwarf those from fossil fuels and amount to some 800 billion tons a year. So although it is a myth that volcanoes produce more carbon dioxide than fossil fuels do, the natural world far outpaces our cars and factories. Roughly 97% of the carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere each year is from nature, not human activity.Savage lurches in the global climate will happen one day, whether by manmade warming or volcanic cooling. Cutting carbon emissions might mitigate the former, but it will not help us, and may even hinder us, in adapting to the next Katla or Laki.
So when it comes to the environment, our choices are more diverse than a lugubrious Al Gore or some TV preacher zeroing in on his fund-raising quota. It includes people like Nathan Myhrvold. I’m not not sure where Nathan stands on the Resurrection, but I am sure that his views on what to do about the environment are not tied to dogmatic leftist agendas. He’s trying to invent a way out of a problem for fame and fortune.
Now that’s something I can put my faith in.