Another of the Original AllThatsEvil posts. Originally published October 9, 2007.
To many people, the entire universe of environmentalism, and saving the planet boils down to one chemical, carbon. Unfortunately, that really doesn’t begin to encompass the complexity of our environment.
Our environment is affected by a large number of parameters, ranging from insolation (sunlight falling on the Earth), the effects of cloud cover to retaining heat, the effects of greenhouse gasses (note, carbon dioxide is ONLY ONE of many!), the albedo of our planet.
To try to describe all the complex interactions, with the single factor “carbon footprint” is like trying to describe every play of the Superbowl, by talking about the 3 commercials that played at the end.
Carbon footprint may be one of the metrics that is meaningful when looking at the problem of global warming, or it may not be. The important thing to understand is that global warming, if it is happening, is caused by the interaction of many complex variables. We have yet to determine which variables are most heavily weighted, which have a feedback or feedforward effect. And, most importantly, we’ve yet to prove that global warming, if it’s happening, is even effected by actions on the human scale. (I mention this point, because it’s interesting that Mars is undergoing “global warming” at a similar rate to Earth, and we’ve yet to see any SUVs on Mars!)
Now, this doesn’t mean that we should, as some conservatives claim, throw up our arms, and not worry, because after all, we couldn’t possibly affect our global environment. If does, however mean that we should consider all the variables that go into affecting our climate, and strive to understand how they interact. But, simply grasping at the single straw labeled “Carbon footprint” and assuming that straw is the KEY to global warming is short sighted and fraught with peril. By continuing to examine the processes by which our environment continues to change and evolve, we’ll be better prepared to affect those changes to our environment over which we can exert some control.
- Myths and Facts about Global Warming (wattsupwiththat.com)
- Heartland Institute has zero credibility on global warming (thegazette.com)
- Thawing Permafrost Bad News for Global Warming (planetsave.com)
- Climate Tyranny Avoids Scrutiny (papundits.wordpress.com)