Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Global Warming: the whole thing is hooey?

Naturalist Paul Brook wrote in The Art of Seeing Nature, How much we see depends on what we bring to the encounter.

Many perceive the environment only aesthetically. While it’s important that environmental values should be seen in light of aesthetic significance, it is also, and more important that it be seen objectively and pragmatically: its effects on the health of our civilization, economy, personal health, and the health of the cosmos are very significant and far reaching.

Furthermore, Paul Brooks wrote in The Pursuit of Wilderness, We shall never understand the natural environment until we see it as a living organism.

For too many Americans, the environment is seen as being essentially a political, as well as a dollar and cents issue. Until we take politics and profit out of environmental considerations and judge environmental contamination as akin to poor health in the same way we view cancer, heart attack, diabetes …we are going to drive the quality of life and the prospects of a viable environmental evolution down into a deep abyss from which we will never be able to climb out -- if we neglect our environment, it could come to a point at some future time where bringing the environment back to good health simply may not be possible.

The natural environment, of which Paul Brooks speaks, encompasses all that is living and non-living that exists on earth and in the cosmos. It consists of all natural mass, energy, and forces. It is comprised of all organisms, air, water, rocks, soil, climate, all natural phenomenon, and their ecologies. It’s the totality of circumstances and the combination of external physical conditions surrounding an organism or group of organisms that affect their growth, development, and survival. Our environment should be considered to include even the social and cultural conditions affecting the nature of an individual or community. The natural environment is also inclusive of our consciousness. Each influences the other and interacts with each other symbiotically in such a way as to maintain a very delicate ecological balance.

Put all together, the natural environment is a vibrant structure of all existence that is not manmade: a universal space consisting of interdependent, sophisticated, infinitely complex, and profound properties. All mass and energy of the natural world is in fact a very fragile, sentiently alive organism.

However, the much-publicized issue of Global Warming is what has taken center stage in the environment debate. It is this concern that 130 nations have gathered in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the United Nations Climate Change Conference on the 7th to the 18th of December 2009. Although control over climate change and its cause -- excessive emissions of green house gasses -- is important to a very delicate ecosystem, the global concern must be more inclusive than increases in average temperature of the earth's atmosphere and its affect on climate change.

Understanding what our environmental evolution should achieve -- any journey must have a knowledge of its destination -- is essential to achieving it. What must be achieved beyond Global Warming encompasses the concept of ranking civilizations as Type I, Type II, and Type III, which according to the Kardashev scale theorizes that civilizations may be ranked by their energy consumption. Accordingly, we must do all we can to achieve the lofty goal of a Type III civilization. Machio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York, explains in his Star Makers essay, that a Type III civilization is capable of harnessing all of the power available from a single galaxy.

(It is interesting to note that in the estimation of Carl Sagen, at sometime prior to 1996, he determined that our civilization on the Kardashev scale should be ranked at around .07.)

In this light, the goal of a Type III civilization essentially must include the hypothetical process of terraforming as an achievable goal. Terraforming does not happen by placing controls over green house gasses alone. It must be inclusive of advancing technologies so we can deliberately modify atmosphere, temperature, and surface topography in such a way as to advance, evolutionarily and viably, civilization.

Additionally, in order to accomplish this goal we must understand the metaphorical concept of the Butterfly Effect of chaos theory, which suggests that a single small event can ignite a whole series of seemingly unrelated other events that have an affect holistically on our planet. In a global society, that is an important understanding, since any micro or macro environmental event in any nation or territory produces at some level a consequence for the global community.

Global warming or not, it should not matter. To be skeptical, yes, but let’s not take our eye off the ball. Our concern should not be as to whether Sarah Palin is correct when she says Polar Bear populations are on the upswing in defiance of the Environmental Protection Agencies claim that they are diminishing. Nor when Palin says in an opinion piece for The Washington Post, entitled Copenhagen's political science, calling for a boycott of Copenhagen because, she believes, the whole thing is hooey. Nor whether or not Global Warming is nothing but quack or quasi-science, or as CNN describes it as either Truth or Trick, or Climategate, as some have called it. Nor whether Global Warming is a political exercise, or a moneymaker for the free market capitalist, because to one degree or another it is all of these. However, despite all of these arguments, we cannot be a day late and a dollar short if manmade Global Warming turns out to be true.

So, my concern is not with the authenticity of catastrophic climate change, manmade or not, but rather with the globes concern for the natural environment in understanding that it is in its totality a living organism, and, for that reason, we should take care of, and be responsible for our earth’s environment in the same way we take care of our personal health needs and that of our loved ones, through treatment, and preventively by being proactive. If this were authentically understood, we would not have these meaningless, contentious debates.