Saturday, February 14, 2009

Climate change: debate on the Telegraph site

There is a Climate Change debate over on the Telegraph. Their environment correspondent, Charles Clover, draws an analogy between the debate over evolution and that on climate change, stressing how much pre-existing beliefs affect how we view the evidence.

The usual debate follows. One day I will count the pejorative/fact ratio used by either side. The impression is that the denial lobby rely heavily on insults. "Go to hell, you conceited fool"
is one example of a denier's debating technique.

I contribute this:

At the end of the day, fascinating though the discussion may be, this is not just an academic scientific debate, because we and our children are part of the experiment.

The consensus among scientists (yes, with a few exceptions, as is always the case in science) that we should decarbonise our economy as a matter of urgency.

Now, say we decarbonise our economy, and it eventually turns out that AGW theory is wrong? Well, we will have created hundreds of thousands of jobs in insulation and taken thousands out of fuel poverty, thus easing the severity of the current recession. Not bad, but that's not all. We will also have reduced the shock of Peak Oil and Peak Gas, both of which will happen over the coming decades. Also not bad. Also we will have reduced particulate air pollution, (with good effects on many health parameters) and will have less traffic congestion, which will be beneficial to the economy, since congestion imposes heavy costs on business.

Against all these improvements, there will also be losers, primarily the oil companies and motor car manufacturers. But that is just how the market works. If you produce something for which there is no demand, you have to contract.

In short, it is a case of Pascal's Wager all over again, but with the existence, not of God, but our children's future in the scales of judgment.

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