I’m not a scientist, just a middle-aged journalist with a bias in favor of common sense. What my own methodology tells me about global warming is this: If it walks like a duck, has feathers, a bill, and quacks violently when distressed, it is probably not Lindsay Lohan.
Which is to say – of course there is global warming, and of course it is changing our climate. Shovel a lot of snow in January, did you? The ten warmest years in history have all come since 1990.
We no longer have the luxury of listening to ignorant or corrupt politicians argue that global warming doesn’t exist. Well, I suppose I personally could afford that luxury; I don’t have any children and the climate will probably still be tolerable for the few decades I have left. However, I have the curious idea that we ought to try to leave this planet in good enough shape for future generations to mess up.
Consider this: I don’t think even the most hardened laissez-faire capitalist or devoted anarchist would argue that anyone has the right to spit in the city water supply. I wasn’t going to say spit, but you get the idea. We are fouling the earth’s climate. We have been doing this for decades, of course.
There are plenty of parcels of land in Detroit, or Novosibirsk, so polluted, that no one will put anything there, since it would cost more to clean up the ground than it is worth. They didn’t know better when they poured that old motor oil and those lead-based chemicals into the earth in 1926, but we certainly do know better in 2006.
For politicians, however, one thing hasn’t changed.
Future generations can’t vote yet, and they certainly can’t make campaign contributions. We could do like every other generation, and leave it to them to clean up our mess. But here’s the problem.
It will be too late. Dr. Henry Pollack is one of the nation’s most distinguished climatologists, and he tells us that the damage that will be changing our climate for the next half-century has already been done and is just cycling through the atmosphere. What we do now and in the future will damage the earth after that.
Years ago, I thought that if a tombstone were ever to be erected to the human race, it would read, “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.” Now, of course, I realize that it will say something very different. “We knew it was really stupid,” our epitaph may read. “But we went ahead and did it anyway.”