I try to stay away from answering “Ask a Scienceblogger” when it strays too far from my areas of expertise. This week, the question is the following:
I read this article in the NRO, and the author actually made some interesting arguments. ‘Basically,’ he said, ‘I am questioning the premise that [global warming] is a problem rather than an opportunity.’ Does he have a point?…
I don’t really think I need to be an expert to respond. The article in question seems to have been written largely as a joke. Al Gore suggests that New York would be underwater as a result of rising sea levels. The author’s retort: “get with it Democrats, where is your traditional love of public works? Rising ocean levels will keep the government in the sea wall business for decades.”
I agree, that could be an interesting problem to solve. Unfortunately, the world isn’t run by liberals. So when a real climate crisis occurs as a result of global warming, such as the drought in Darfur or Hurricane Katrina, real people die, in the thousands and hundreds of thousands.
How will the citizens of Canada feel about millions — possibly billions — of refugees seeking the land of plenty that the article’s author thinks will be created there by global warming? Somehow I doubt they’ll be welcoming them with open arms. If one country, the Sudan, can’t peacefully handle the societal impact of global warming, what will happen when the entire planet is reeling from its effects? Is it really easier to relocate billions of people than to accelerate our search for renewable energy sources?
Clearly the author doesn’t believe global warming will really occur, or he would display a better understanding of the science behind it. From using non-words like micobiotic to the idea that global warming will create rainforests (actually the Amazon rain forest will be one of the first casualties of global warming), he simply doesn’t have the foggiest notion what global warming will really be like.
But even if he’s 100 percent right on the science, there’s one other huge flaw in the author’s argument. Eventually we’ll run out of fossil fuels, and the earth will begin to cool again. Not only will we have to repeat the massive relocation of the world’s population, again, but we’ll have to make the transition to renewable energy sources anyway.
Why not make the transition now, and save ourselves not one, but two massive, bloody relocations of most of the world’s population?