To The Global Warming Skeptics

After writing yesterday about Al Gore joining Kleiner Perkins, I got a variety of emails from readers who either (A) Don’t believe in global warming or (B) Believe the planet is warming, but that man is not to blame. As reader Gabe wrote: “There is no scientific consensus that global warming is caused by man-made emissions… It’s just a liberal media hoax.”

Ok Gabe, let’s assume you’re right about the lack of consensus (which is accurate given the most literal definition). What that means is that some scientists believe global marking is man-made, and some do not. The question, therefore, is whether we should change our behavior based on the first possibility, or remain status quo based on the second possibility? To me, it’s an obvious choice, given the possible consequences of each decision (again, assuming that each is considered equally likely): Change our behavior.

Scenario #1: Global warming is not man-made, but we behave as if it is.
Some skeptics assume that changing our behavior means economic ruin, but there is no evidence to support such a theory. I’m pretty sure past generations heard the same thing about cutting down on factory pollution, and it seems the economy survived. If you think Kyoto is a nightmare-in-waiting, fine. Smart people can come up with something else.

Moreover, the replacement here is a new industry (cleantech) that will provide plenty of jobs and cheaper sources of energy (in the long run). Pretty sure low energy prices are an economic driver. Oh, and there’s that whole energy independence issue that could make us think twice about the next costly overseas military adventure. Again: Some short-term pain and long-term gain.

Scenario #1: Global warming is man-made, but we behave as if it isn’t.
The results here could include depleted food supplies, increased weather instability, tidal flooding and other such nasties. Lots of possibilities, and few of them very pleasant (besides sunning myself by the Charles River in December).

So of the skeptics I ask the following: Weigh the possibility of me being wrong, and you being wrong. And remove your arrogance of opinion. Then tell me which course we should take.