For those many people who believe that the case for "combating" global warming is open and shut — for those people whose jaws drop in disbelief or whose eyes roll with contempt and ridicule when they encounter someone who is skeptical about rushing headlong into action against global warming — the video that Russ posted yesterday is especially relevant. (Or, I should say instead, that video should be especially relevant.)
People in the world today — especially those of us in the industrialized, commercial, globalized parts of the world — are vastly better off than we were just a few decades ago. Vastly. Billions of ordinary people are much wealthier and healthier.
Let’s assume that every bit of the industry and commerce that generated these increases in wealth and improvements in health contributed to global warming — and let’s also assume that this global warming presents non-trivial adjustment challenges for humankind.
Is it so clear that reining in capitalism to fight global warming would improve human-beings’ prospects for healthier, longer lives? It’s not clear to me (especially because nearly all proposals for fighting global warming involve giving power to politicians). I concede the possibility; it’s the likely reality that I doubt.
What distresses me most about the global-warming debate is the general failure of many self-styled environmentalists to appreciate the gigantic, gargantuan enormity of the benefits that humans today, worldwide, enjoy from the capitalist institutions that are accused of causing global warming. This obliviousness to the towering benefits of global commerce and industry is scary; people suffering this obliviousness do not come across as trustworthy analysts of the problems that society confronts because of global warming. These persons do not come across as trustworthy stewards of the power necessary to combat global warming in the ways that many demand that it be combated.
I am not so much a skeptic of global warming. But I am indeed a skeptic of combating global warming.