A few days ago, an acquaintance via TechRepublic who goes by the monicker Absolutely invited me to participate in discussion threads about the global warming debate. I skimmed some of the material there, but not in enough depth yet to really grasp the main thrust of the debates at TR on the subject, and not even quite enough to be sure I know which side this acquaintance happens to support. The truth is that I haven’t really looked into the climactic change armageddon theories since the ’90s.
The major reason for that lapse in my studies is simple: I discovered that there are far more pressing concerns to be dealt with than whether or not global warming will kill us all in about three centuries. For one thing, if we don’t solve the looming energy crisis problem, or at least indefinitely delay it, within my expected natural lifetime, the human race is doomed to live out its last days trapped on Planet Earth in a steady technological decline. The most likely solutions that don’t involve free market innovations are entirely unendurable, in an ethical sense, as they would involve extermination of a vast majority share of the population of this planet, either as part of reducing and redirecting energy use or as a planned use of human lives as a (perhaps metaphorical, perhaps literal) form of fuel.
I’m pretty sure that, if we’d just cry havoc and let slip the, err, pigs of capitalism (with apologies to Shakespeare for mangling the famous quote from Julius Caesar), free market innovation would solve the problem for us in a manner entirely within the realm of ethical palatability — even according to the utilitarian ethics of many anti-capitalist collectivists. Sure, they’d just point at the writings of Marx or Mill or some other leftist, collectivist, utilitarian, or whatever, and claim that the result was just an aberration, or achieved only through the oppression of an underclass that would have been better off if we all suffered equally, or actually a function of some other (anti-capitalist, anti-individualist, generally anti-liberty) process, but I’m okay with that. I’m not so much after the end of being lauded as a hero as I am of making things work out the way they should. I just happen to think that the best way to reach that end is for everyone to get over their ideological conceits and really question their core values, and start really learning for themselves and applying some good, solid critical thinking skills.
I’ve strayed a bit. Let’s get this back on track.
Since that invitation to engage in debate on climactic crisis issues, and what humanity should do about it, and how much humanity is to blame, tra la la, I’ve serendipitously stumbled across some other sources of information on the subject that just happened to be more well-packaged to grab my attention. It helps that some of it has been appearing on economics and liberty related weblogs that I’ve been following (at least half of which, in terms of my introduction to them, are ClueByFour‘s fault). It also helps that they tend to be stand-alone short essays so that I can get up to speed quickly and without having to sift through three hundred flames in a debate thread for a few pearls of wisdom.
By far, the single most enlightening, and comprehensively bringing-it-home-ish, was a recent post in the excellent Coyote Blog, titled Check the Thermostat!. I not only enjoyed it, learned from it and its well-selected relevant links, and linked to it here, but also reddited the thing. What that information, and the corroborating data I’ve culled from other sources in my desire to check its relevance before running off on this jag, has told me is that humanity has very little control over the climate here, and anything we can do to increase global temperatures in the short run (say, the next three hundred years) will probably help us in the medium run (say, the next three thousand years) — but, more importantly, we simply cannot do enough to reliably control our environment with our current understanding of climactic processes and current levels of technology to even think about it. While we continue to study climactic phenomena and the effects of humans on them (because increasing our understanding is good), we should focus our corrective efforts on other problems, such as the very immediate concerns of rising authoritarianism and tyranny, a likely energy crisis, and the fact that both are fueled more by governmental interference in the economy than any other single, discrete factor of comparable scope.
In fact, what my increasing knowledge of climate crisis science is telling me is that our best bet for solving the problem is to advance the technological state of the art and implementation to the point that we are not dependent on the planet for our well-being as a species or (in many ways more importantly) as individuals. The quickest, surest route to that is, I’m convinced, to cry havoc and let slip the pigs of capitalism.
note: I once gave an ex-girlfriend a “Capitalist Pig in Training” t-shirt (that I had custom-made at an embroidery shop) as a birthday gift. She was in school for an accounting degree. I think I want one, as well — but only if I can figure out how to justify such a label for myself.