Climate change – some questions worth debating

The reason the climate debate isn’t getting anywhere is that it’s that the questions being debated don’t help us to understand and take effective action.

Here’s a few questions worth debating.

What are the underlying beliefs and values that lead us to engage in activities that cause climate change?

How can we change these values?

Is climate change worth debating at all?  Are there larger, more important and urgent issues that face our communities, that we need to focus on?  Is the climate change debate a distraction from what’s really going on around us?

Will reducing carbon emissions have any real effect on the earth’s climate, or does this strategy purely serve the purposes of political campaigning?

What are the benefits of a changing climate, to all life?

Is science a useful tool to try to understand climate change, or are there other ways to look at this issue, that would give us a different perspective? 

Is science being a bully, discrediting other views on the topic?

Should we allow politics and science to dictate how we understand and respond to climate change?

Who funds scientific research into climate change?  What are their interests?

Climate change is merely a symptom of the underlying disease of civilization.  Wouldn’t we do better to address the cause of the disease?  To treat only the symptoms will make the underlying condition worse.

If we accept the belief that carbon emissions from industry are causing climate change, then wouldn’t the obvious action be to stop all emissions immediately?  Any amount of emissions only accelerate the change in climate.  To allow this to continue, and merely reduce the amount of emissions, seems of so little value as to not be worth the effort.

Who benefits from the climate debate?

Who benefits from the renewables industry?  Is it people and Earth, or corporations and governments?

How does the manufacture and use of so-called renewables impact on human and natural communities?  I’m thinking of human health, pollution, inequality, pollution, water, forests, quality of life, biodiversity, extinctions, oppression, land degradation, justice, autonomy and all the other tangible and intangible effects that I’m not aware of.

Is generating electricity so that humans can live in comfort more important than the forests, rivers, farmland, and natural communities that are destroyed to make renewable energy in the name of mitigating climate change?

In the whole life-cycle of these technologies (solar, wind, geothermal), are they releasing more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere that the technologies they are intended to replace?  Life cycle includes research and development, extraction of materials from the Earth (oil, metals, water, and more), manufacture, transport, marketing, installation, maintenance, disposal. 

Can renewables ever truly replace conventional energy sources, or will they always be dependendent on the existing energy infrastructure?

Isn’t CO2 in the atmosphere good for plants?  Shouldn’t we just grow more plants to change atmospheric carbon levels, rather than reducing emissions?  Letting weeds grow and forests live seems like a lot less effort.

The Gaia hypothesis says that the Earth is a self-regulating organism.  By this logic climate change is a fever, a strategy to heal itself by making Earth inhospitable to the disease agent.  In this story the disease agent is most likely industrial civilization.  Would an appropriate response be to help the Earth to rid itself of this disease?

The manufacturing of solar panels releases a chemical called nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) into the atmosphere, which has 17 000 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.  Is shutting down the manufacture of solar cells on the agenda of climate change activists?

How many logical fallacies have I committed in asking these questions?

I don’t claim to have answers to any of these, and I’m sure many of them merely expose my ignorance of the issues.  I’m posing them because I find the climate change debate extremely boring, and since it doesn’t look like going away or moving forward (or moving anywhere), throwing a few questions into the melee is all I can offer.


5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by klem on June 5, 2012 at 3:23 am

    “Can renewables ever truly replace conventional energy sources, or will they always be dependendent on the existing energy infrastructure?”

    Renewables can replace conventional energy sources. Look at geothermal power for example, just drill down a few hundred meters anywhere and you’ll find free heat. Geothermal is not dependent on sunshine or wind, it can be placed anywhere and can produce hot water 24/7. So why aren’t we talking more about geothermal power? Just Google some images of geothermal power plants and you’ll know why. Geothermal plants are industrial looking, they aren’t green looking. Wind turbines are tall white and they spin gracefully, they give people a warm and fuzzy feeling when they see them spinning away on a distant hill. Geothermal plants are boxy and industrial looking, the don’t LOOK green, there is no warm and fuzzy feeling for geothermal. It’s called ‘conspicuous environmentalism’, it has to look green or people don’t want it.

    The Toyota Prius is a perfect example, there are all kinds of competing hybrid cars out there but almost no one buys them, they buy the Prius. All the other hybrids look like regular cars, they don’t look green. The Prius looks green and outsells all of the other hybrids by far. Conspicuous environmentalism also applies to geothermal. If geothermal were more green looking, we’d have a real shot at replacing conventional energy sources. Until that happens, fossil fuels will rule.


  2. Posted by Durable on June 5, 2012 at 6:08 am

    ‘Sometimes the questions tell us more than answers ever do..’ michael card


  3. Ignoring whether you find the debate boring. I would just follow the natural’s world struggle in keeping pace with the climate change struggle.


    Tony Powell


  4. Posted by Durable on June 5, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    Tony, thats fertile ground for questions as well. Are we seeing natural world respond to atmospheric gas level changes or geoengineering, chemtrails, and haarp experimentation?


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