Global … Warming?Posted: December 24, 2009
There are two views to global warming today. One is the general view that global warming is bad, it is one of the evils created by the industrialized world and it will lead humanity to disaster. The other view (can we say contrarian for want of a better word?) is that global warming is a non-starter, essentially for two reasons:
1. The data that scientists are basing their predictions on is too small to be able to predict anything like global warming.
2. Global warming would have happened anyway because its part of the cyclic phenomenon we call global climate, so it doesnt really matter what we do.
The interesting thing is there is no way you can actually debate these lines of reasoning. This is because one is based on too short-term a view and the other is based on too long-term a view. I had an interesting discussion with a gentleman today about this, which got me writing this. Whats interesting is that while one cannot debate these lines of reasoning, they do raise a few questions.
One of the questions that they raise is can we afford to err? We may be making a mistake by assuming that global warming is actually happening, or we could be making a mistake by assuming that the data we are basing our conclusions on is too limited. At this point there is no way we can say which of the two is a mistake. The question is, can we err on the side of assuming that global warming is fictitious? It would be ok if it was, but what if it wasnt? Would we be walking over a precipice with our eyes open?
The other aspect is that of these climatic phenomena being cyclical. They might well be cyclical and warming might well have happened, human activity notwithstanding. What i think, based on my limited understanding of Chaos Theory, a dynamical system like the weather may have multiple equilibrium states and the fact that it is in a particular state doesnt mean it cant move from this equilibrium to the other equilibrium state it can have. Having said that, this movement would require some amount of nudging along from somewhere, and the question this brings up is, can we afford to have human activity being the nudge for moving to an alternate equilibrium, which may include extinction of humanity? I dont think so, but then, these are possibilities.