If you choose to believe me, then you are about to read an opinion from someone who is truly undecided on the issue of anthropomorphic climate change. I have studied both sides of the argument whenever I can (which is too rare, I'll admit), and I am still undecided. Here are some of the reasons why:
- There are more scientists on the "global warming is true" side, but there are
legitimate scientists on the "global warming is false" side too
- For every piece of of good scientific evidence discussed, there are a hundred ad hominem or political attacks
- Making predictions is hard, especially about the future (oblig. Yogi Berra quote)
- Autodidacts such as myself are better swayed by good, reasoned argument than by credentials
- When discussing change versus the status quo in energy production and usage, we are talking about tremendous amounts of money, and hence power. It is nearly impossible in such an environment to have a reasonable discussion without the influence of those with an agenda.
I, personally, doubt very much that real scientists have ulterior motives. However, non-scientists seem to be less bulletproof. For example, it is very hard for me to take Al Gore seriously because he is the chairman of a company
that stands to make a killing if laws are changed to reduce carbon emissions.
On the other hand, I have no love for the oil companies. The Forbes top 20 list of large companies is roughly split between financial companies (Chase, Citigroup, etc.) and oil companies. And Microsoft. They are a force to be reckoned with, and I admire those brave enough to say to them, "You are the problem." The past practices of many of the oil companies are deplorable, and I would feel little pity for them if they were to go bankrupt.
Add to this my belief that many of our (I'm American, so define "our" accordingly) problems with other nations stem from the unfathomable wealth these nations have accumulated from oil and how they have distributed that wealth. Enough has been said of this in other places that I won't elaborate here.
These two factors together are enough for me to feel inclined to stay out of the climate change debate. The inertia favors those who say it is real and want policies to reduce oil consumption. Of course, that does not make me a believer, and there is one factor that makes me hesitate: my concern for the poor.
I advocate policies that do not harm the poor. You might say I'm a progressive, but please don't call me a democrat (or republican for that matter). I have seen oil companies employ, at very good wages, those that would have no other course out of poverty. I also believe that measures that would reduce carbon emissions would drive up energy costs (domestic use and transportation) and that would affect most those with the least.