This week a study of the world’s surface temperatures led Richard Muller – a long time, conservative skeptic scientists partially bankrolled by a foundation connected to global warming deniers – finally got him to change his mind. It’s big news because he was a champion of those who say “There is no such thing as global warming” and “the earth naturally gets hotter and colder, human beings don’t have any impact on the environment.”
For decades, normal, smart people like me have called those people assholes. Muller’s point was that scientists need to be careful and not believe a theory as 100% concrete until there was adequate proof. As a scientist, he was right. But global warming is not “just a theory” with no practical consequences. If society had changed its environmental policy decades ago, a bright future for humanity may still have been possible. Instead, thanks to denial and the support of conservative scientists like Muller, big business and global trade have flouted environmental regulations, the Bush presidency repealed environmental safety laws, and there is a continuing controversy over whether stuff like pollution, recycling or energy even matters.
Why Global Warming Doesn’t Matter
However, the unfortunate truth is that even with Muller’s about-face, and with there no longer being any room for morons to claim that Global Warming doesn’t exist, nobody is going to do anything about it. People are far too busy worrying about the economy, banks and businesses on the verge of collapse, investments gone sour, to think about building a better future for our children. People still just want to make money and buy cool shit. Nobody is going to stop buying cool shit, buying nice cars, and doing what’s easiest and most convenient for them. The only way our habits are going to change is if somebody smart steps up, takes over and forces us to change (and nobody will, because the people who get elected are chosen by supporters who want to gain something – not because they are good for the world.)
China and India’s economies are exploding. There will be thousands of new factories popping up in the next decade. This will ensure that we keep drilling for oil and coal until there is none left. By the time we run out (20 years?) The world will have heated up so much that the icecaps WILL melt. The sea levels will rise by a few meters, and millions of coastal residents will be displaced (while at the same time, the global population keeps growing).
It’s a bleak picture. If there is an alien race watching out for earth, the best thing they could do would be to release a virus that kills 2/3 of everybody. People are just to dumb to change their own habits voluntarily. (Many, many people are changing! But not enough, and not quickly.)