What do skeptics gain by denying the human onset of climate change? Sure, anyone should feel free to state their opinion, but why go to such great lengths? Even if human activity isn’t to blame for the current state of our climate, the suggested solutions to offset the change would benefit society greatly.
For example, if we were to move towards renewable energy resources it would reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, which are deplorable and polluting. Society needs to establish sustainable practices to prepare for the future. Reducing dependency on oil would also diminish the fight for power over these resources, resolving several international conflicts. This change may have high initial or start-up costs, but renewable energy is much more efficient and would benefit the economy in the long run. According to this article, if we were to invest 150 billion dollars in clean energy, it would open up 1.7 million new jobs, and that excludes the jobs lost from the fossil fuel industry.
I think part of the problem is a misconception of what is required by us. Many people believe that being “greener” requires one to change their entire lifestyle, or that one person can’t make any real change. In reality, there are several simple things that anyone could do in order to make a big impact. This article shows that simply painting roofs white would have a positive effect on the albedo of large cities, sending more of the sun’s radiation back into the atmosphere. Some other easy ways to reduce our impact include recycling, using energy efficient lightbulbs, fixing leaky faucets etc.
Of course much of the blame goes to big corporate emitters of greenhouse gases and the growing population that seems to be nearing the Earth’s carrying capacity, but people underestimate the difference an individual can make.
“We need to make growth greener, to make our economic and environmental policies more compatible and even mutually-reinforcing. This is not just a matter of new technologies or new sources of renewable, safe energy. It is about how we all behave every day of our lives, what we eat, what we drink, what we recycle, re-use, repair, how we produce and how we consume” - Angel Gurria, OECD Secretary-General (May 2011)
Eliminating exploitation of poor countries, improving human health, and saving endangered species are goals that will not hurt mankind, but climate change poses a very serious threat.
“The impacts of global warming are such that I have no hesitation in describing it as a weapon of mass destruction” - Sir John Houghton, former Chief Executive of the Meteorological Office, 2003
In my opinion, it is better to be safe then sorry. When preserving the natural beauty of the planet, there is really nothing to lose.