Agnostic. That’s where I am at when it comes to the climate change debate. One of the reasons for this is that the whole topic has been so politicized that it’s difficult to find objective information about it, and I have yet to find that golden thread of logic running throughout the main pillars of the idea as to be able to commit one way or the other.
I spent the last week which I had taken off from work on research into climate change, and it could be quite accurately characterized as a largely fruitless search through endless reams of speculative non sequiturs littered with political bickering, arrogance, and censorship, the kind of stuff that left me wishing I had spent my vacation time on something else. By the third day spent searching, I gave up none the wiser on the details of the theory (though, given the information I found, hypothesis is likely more apt of a term). Perhaps I shall have better luck next time, if there is a next time.
Not knowing whether there is a real and actionable climate problem is not the same thing as saying there isn’t one, however. And even though I do not have enough information to commit one way or the other, I am not saying people making the such claims are daft. There might be something there. They just can’t seem to organize the evidence in a way that makes their conclusions appear reasonable to someone with an undergrad physics and earth science background. I am not an expert by any means but am not completely uneducated either, while I am completely aware of the danger in accepting arguments that I don’t understand at face value; and I got stuck at square one trying to validate the effect of atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
None of this means that I can’t be cooperative where it makes sense, however. Because at least the bottom-line usefulness of the entire climate debate is that whether one can agree with any of the claims made about climate change and its cause, we all should be mindful of our impact on the world around us. We only have one planet and we need to take care of it.
But being cooperative means lots of different things to different people. If I were to take the climate claims at face value, would I agree that the government should have a carbon tax, or that subsidizing electric cars, and taxing certain industries out of business, all while spending hand over fist on dinosaur infrastructure, roads and bridges to nowhere, and making people pay lots more for energy to discourage use or spying on them with smart thermostats among other things are the right things to do to solve the problem? No, I wouldn’t, but only because I have an entirely different perspective on how emissions could be reduced that apply policy principles of leaving everyone better off while building them up instead of tearing them down. Carrots and persuasion are much better than sticks, and many of the policy proposals and implementations made thus far are simply first reaching for the sticks.
Unfortunately, in the name of climate change, most of the political class have started with energy generation as the low hanging fruit to meet emissions reduction targets (how do we measure this – really??), while working on the largest body emitters, gasoline-powered automobiles, in a more gradual way in the form of subsidizing electric car development. And I think that those of us who have been around for a while understand that we have not yet heard what a shortsighted idea that turned out to be because of what is ultimately done with spent batteries. But we most certainly will.
What if we could change this just by looking at the reasons there are so many cars on the road? I think we’d find that most of them are commuters. What if all the commuting is largely unnecessary?
I spent years going to the office every weekday to do a technology job that I could do just as easily from home. I know that I can because as things go, the company whose building we were using for office space did not renew their support contract, and those of us who were not on that contract had nowhere to go. So, for the last six months, I have been working from home and will be doing so for the foreseeable future. And this has opened a whole new world to me that I am liking very much for lots of different reasons, many of which have to do with money, but not all. I just wish I had known that my workplace arrangements would change before I signed a lease on a new Mazda. I’ve had it for a little over a year and it has only 6.5k miles on it so far!
So, the way I look at what has been happening around forced changes in the energy supply that have driven a whole raft of changes in the way people live from being on the colder side of cold in their homes all winter, and uncomfortable all summer, to washing clothes in cold water, and having the government control their thermostats in some cases just makes people miserable on top of the slavish commutes many face every day (not even getting to the huge cost driver this policy is that people are paying without realizing it). And honestly, I don’t think it has to be that way when we could get lots of cars off the road by building the right kinds of infrastructure, digital, and incentivizing its use for remote workforce capabilities and remote learning to be the rules rather than the exceptions. We have the technology to save ourselves in a way that would make millions of people feel much happier to be alive, and we just don’t build it or utilize it as if the future depends on it in more ways than one.
If we can’t do this, for whatever the reasons are, the climate problem isn’t use of fossil fuels or even the fossil fuels themselves. Rather it’s the stupidly unnecessary things we do to ourselves without ever solving any problems at all., and in any case, we are doomed economically whether we do anything or not.