MY QUEST - INTRODUCTION
I did not always “believe in” global warming. Until recently, I thought it was another environmentalists’ overstatement of a problem: everything, all the time, is an end-of-the-world catastrophe upon which action must be taken NOW.
In the 1970s I read Limits to Growth, and was profoundly affected by its portrayal of a future in which humans brought catastrophe on themselves by unrelenting increases in population and consumption of resources. Then I lived through the 80s and 90s, when there was incredible economic growth with seemingly no limits. I became a strong skeptic.
Sometime in the 90s I first heard about global warming. The sound bites in newspapers and on television did not add up.
I was dismayed by the misinformation around the subject of global warming, the incomplete explanations from the media, and by books that presented only one side of the issue.
All of the focus was on the bad things that would result from global warming, with no discussion of the trade-offs associated with fighting global warming. As an electrical engineer (and CPA), I know that there are no decisions without downsides and that there are always unintended consequences of significant actions. There was little discussion of the downsides of fighting global warming. No balance in the discussion - just shouting and asserting.
I wondered why, if fighting global warming was going to be easy and positive for the economy, we did not just do it.
Then global warming became politically correct and the probability of getting unbiased analysis from politicians and the popular press fell close to zero.
Even Al Gore, the Nobel Prize-winning, Oscar-winning evangelist for global warming, distorts facts. He is a propagandist/evangelist for global warming, no more and no less. He received his prizes for being politically correct; not factually correct.
If we cannot learn the truth, even inconvenient truths, from Al Gore, where can we find it?
To quote Daniel Boorstin, a former librarian of Congress, “I write to discover what I think.” I wanted to learn the facts about global warming, and it was important to me to be intellectually honest with myself, look at both sides and get it right.
I have spent more than a decade reading everything I could find on global warming, from scientific papers to books to internet rants - from Al Gore to Rush Limbaugh - in order to understand the issues around global warming for myself.
It is critical for each of us to understand what we know about global warming, what we do not know about global warming, what the consequences and costs of fighting global warming will be and what the consequences and costs of doing nothing will be. What are the trade-offs between action and non-action with regard to global warming?
What I found as a result of this study is that current thought around global warming mimics the blind men in the Indian parable trying to understand an elephant. (In my version of the parable) three blind men approach an elephant from different directions. One grabs the tail and says, “I know what an elephant is, it is a long rope.” The blind man at a leg says, “You are crazy; it is a thick tree trunk.” The blind man at the trunk says, “You have both lost your minds, it is a long, flexible tube with hot hair going in and out.” Even worse, the blind men describing global warming have agendas and ideologies, and have added data like, “And, it has spots and is angry and will kill us all.” Or, “The elephant looks calm, does not appear to be a danger, and is probably blue in color.”
I have boiled down all of the information I have gathered during this journey into 10 things you need to know about global warming. These 10 things will provide easily-accessible explanations, including both sides of the issue where there is disagreement – and there is a significant amount of disagreement. Actually, given the politically-correct status of global warming, there is a ridiculous amount of disagreement and raised voices over every detail, when most data are uncertain or not highly accurate.
I have attempted to take a dispassionate look at the facts and to consider the difficult choices we have to make.
If the mainstream descriptions of the effects of global warming from humans’ activities are true, humans face an unimaginably large, difficult and perhaps unsolvable challenge. These challenges would radically change our lives and threaten our existence – whether we take actions against global warming, or not.
If the mainstream is correct, significant actions must be taken immediately.
The mainstream, however, may not be correct, which makes decision-making difficult-to-impossible.
We are left with incomplete data and the inability to make a clear choice.
I would like to assure you that all will turn out well, or at least give you a prescription for steps to take to get to safety.
I cannot do that, and neither can anyone else.
All you can do is to become as informed as possible and make decisions and cast votes based on incomplete information.
If you just read the chapter titles and the bolded text, you will have a better understanding of global warming than essentially all politicians, movie stars and all of the popular media. If you read and think about the contents of this book, you will understand more than all but a small number of experts.
Along the way, you will find that almost all of my sources are in the mainstream. I have little patience with shrillness or conspiracy theories. You do not have to abandon science and rational thinking to grasp the current state of play with regard to global warming.
I will use a number of graphs to illustrate the data, however, the key points from each graph will be explained in the text, so that you can ignore the graphs, if you wish, and still understand the discussion and debate.
And then, following the data and logic where it led me, I reached a conclusion that in hindsight was obvious, but surprised me when I reached it.
This book contains a summary of the causes, implications and potential actions relating to anthropogenic global warming. My objective is to provide a comprehensive, accessible, unbiased discussion of global warming.
Join me in exploring the only 10 things you need to know about global warming.