the politics of global warming

The more people are being scared about global warming, the less they want to do to help stop it.

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Perhaps the most popular term of this century so far is global warming. You can’t go anywhere without hearing something about climate change, carbon dioxide, melting ice sheets and carbon footprints. And seldom a day goes by when the specter of the global warming menace isn’t being mentioned in the news alongside what bank failed in the previous 24 hours. We see evidence that our planet’s climate is starting to change and as all global events, it will take a long time for these changes to play themselves out. But to groups that have long been campaigning for new environment-centric policies across the world, that’s no reason not to use climate change to give an apocalyptic tinge to their predictions.

Global warming that’s raising the planet’s average temperature by about a degree over the last century and the global warming talked about by environmental activists seem to be two rather different things from two very different worlds. A slowly progressing climate change which will warm the planet by several degrees and allow us a century to adjust and come to terms with it, lives in the realm of science. The climate change invoked by many passionate advocates from environmental groups is like a boogeyman waiting in your home to jump out of the closet just as soon as the invisible carbon dioxide meter hits its magic mark. And if you don’t invest your money in solar energy or a windmill right here and now, then global warming will come to your house and rip your face off like a horror movie zombie. That world ending monster lives in the media world and is ominously advertised to us for political purposes.

It’s not that global warming or our neglect of the environment aren’t important issues. But an apocalyptic series of slides being rewarded by everything and anything that the entertainment industry has to offer and gets picked up by the media as a scary story to keep selling copies at the news stand or driving hits to a website is a political tool first and foremost. Al Gore and his colleagues in the environmental movement have been shouting about rampant pollution and the immense damage it could cause to the planet over the last few decades. Using the cause of global warming, they’ve found a hammer to force people and companies to make the changes they wanted to see 30 years ago, many of them beneficial, many of them clean and viable, and most of them being pitched with wild abandon and the threat of global warming being used to justify urgent investment in neglected green tech.

Usually, immediately throwing money into the first piece of technology we see isn’t a good idea because promising projects with more potential and greater ROI get neglected just because the news didn’t cover them the same day as the new tech fad. The most important reason to adapt green technology and clean energy is for the savings. Renewable sources of energy will cost a good deal less and help free the air of the noxious gasses our factories and power plants emit for us to inhale. And sometimes, technology that does pose a little risk can also be viable and a valuable step towards sustainability. In an environmental rush, nuclear powered spinoffs like a nuclear battery and fusion technology get overlooked despite their enormous potential to help us produce billions of kilowatt hours without burning coal or waiting for the sun to shine or the wind to blow. To environmentalists, this is about using the issue of global warming to get what they want and “save the planet” in their own way, consistent with their ideology.

So the next time you hear a grim prediction about global warming and its menacing potential, it might be a good idea to evaluate what environmental groups being interviewed for the story try to pitch as a solution to all our ills. Are they urging us to investigate any new technology to develop sustainable energy without the use of traditional fossil fuels or only what fits their personal ideologies about what makes for clean energy?

# science // climate / climate change / environmentalism / global warming

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