Change. Why do so many people fear it? When I was in my teens I hoped for change, in my 20s I counted on it and now, in my late 30s with two children and a loving husband, I shudder, just a little, before opening my eyes to see which direction it will take me.
I’ve always believed that life is about navigating through change with honour and facing adversity and opportunity with courage.
And today change is at the very root of the debate on global warming.
There are two opposing scientific theories to global warming. In one camp are the scientists who believe that C02 levels are contributing to global warming. Quite simply put, C02 traps the sun’s rays in the atmosphere, which causes the earth to warm up. This view is advanced in Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth. Temperature and C02 graphs, created from ice core samples, are linked, showing that they rise and fall together. The problem is that the ice core samples demonstrate that C02 increases actually follow temperature increases – at times they even lag 200 to 400 years behind temperature increases. Despite this, Gore insists that man-made increases in C02 will contribute significantly to global warming.
In the other camp are the scientists who disagree and believe that solar flares have far more impact on global warming. Solar flares create a wind that deflects cosmic rays from entering the Earth’s atmosphere where they meet water vapour and form clouds. More solar activity creates more of this solar wind and leads to less cloud formation. Without as much cloud cover, the Earth’s surface heats up. They conclude that humans actually have little to do with global warming. This view is reflected in the movie The Great Global Warming Swindle. The problem with this view is that the data for solar activity doesn’t go back very far and it seems relatively unreliable.
But while both camps believe that the Earth is warming, the most important issue is: Can we do anything about it?
What interests me is how the “climate crisis” looks through the eyes of the economists.
The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change is a report Sir Nicholas Stern released in 2006. The report supports the belief that C02 is causing global warming and it looks at what needs to be done to adapt to climate change: This is the part that matters most. Ignoring the fact that the Earth is warming will eventually damage economic growth no matter what the cause. The report insists that: “Adaptation to climate change – taking steps to build resilience and minimize costs – is essential.”
And it also looks at the need to develop new forms of energy technology. The report suggests that “Action on climate change will also create significant business opportunities as new markets are created in low-carbon energy technologies and other low-carbon goods and services.”
A home-grown green industry propelled by political activists who have turned one theory on climate change into a political ideology might be the beginning of a huge economic shift, or it could simply be the development of a new industry. Obviously, the “huge economic shift” is what people fear most. An environmental mandate in Canada could hinder our ability to compete on a global level, but then too it could also create so much economic activity here that it strengthens us globally.
The energy industry has the most to gain and, I suppose, the most to lose from the environmental movement. Both oil and uranium are finite resources, but long before they run out, the prices will go up, as is happening now. Over the years, as supplies diminish and prices increase, alternative sources of energy will become more and more viable and eventually oil and uranium will run out. It won’t happen today or tomorrow, but may happen in my children’s lifetime; which means that the seeds for alternative energy need to be planted now so that my children can enjoy the same quality of life that I have today.
The one fact that I am sure of is that the Earth is warming and – even if this wasn’t caused by C02 – there will be serious repercussion. Instead of arguing over the cause, it’s time to stand up and face the future.
Sarah Thomson’s views on global warming are constantly changing.