The precautionary principle Click: precautionary principal “The precautionary principle or precautionary approach to risk management states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is not harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action.”
There remains much uncertainty in the public mind about the subject of climate change. There is no doubt that major corporations, such as the oil companies and their owners, have paid PR companies, politicians, bogus scientific authorities and the media to persuade the public either that climate change is not happening to a threatening degree, or that if it is happening, it is an entirely natural process and therefore not susceptible to human intervention. Click: Funding denial
The fact that huge budgets are being spent to persuade the global public that there is no reason for society to change its buying habits, or interrupt corporate profit-flows, does not in itself, mean that their arguments are wrong – only that they shouldn’t be accepted unquestioningly. Amidst so many conflicting reports, it is less painful (and therefore human nature) to opt for the argument that predicts the least worrying future. That doesn’t mean that the more worrying scenario doesn’t represent the reality.
The best case scenario put forward by the climate change deniers argues that rapid climate change is not occurring, but that gradual climate change is inevitable; an entirely natural process unaffected by human activity. As the change is gradual, there is plenty of time in which to adapt to it and nothing that can be done to prevent it. There is therefore no reason for societies to put themselves to any inconvenience in regards to attempting to prepare for it or to divert its natural course.
The worst case scenario argues that rapid climate change is taking place, is caused or greatly speeded up by human activity and unless it is halted and even reversed, it poses the threat of extinction for the human species within as short a time span as one or two centuries. To stave off the threat of rapid climate change, and, should that fail, to adapt to the new conditions, painful political and economic measures have to be implemented by the human community, both at national level and in individual patterns of consumption. Reaction to the threat has already been left until the eleventh hour and the necessary measures must be imposed with the greatest urgency.
If, having studied both arguments, an individual still remains uncertain as to which scenario to opt for, there is only one sensible behaviour to adopt: they should continue to hope for the best, but would be more than foolish not to prepare for the worst.
Weigh the risks. Even if there were only a small percentage chance of human extinction resulting from human actions, that price is multiple times higher than the cost of any remedial action to reduce or negate that risk. In short, it would be irrational and immoral not to take whatever steps are indicated, even if in the final outcome, they prove to have been ineffective, or, far better, unnecessary.
Q. If, having noted the opinions of 90+% of climate scientists that climate change is influenced by human activity and causes a threat of extinction to our species, and you have also noted the opinions of the 10-% of climate scientists who don’t agree, you are sensible enough to believe that there is at least a 50/50 chance of the 90+% being right, ask yourself a question.
You are walking through the fields, when you come to a busy motorway blocking your path. If you try and cross it you think there is a 50% chance that you will be killed. But, you have heard that if you accept the inconvenience of walking alongside the motorway for a kilometre or so, there is a safe crossing to be had through a pedestrian underpass. Which option would you take?
For a bit of fun – this 4 minute U-Tube clip offers a reminder of how seemingly easy it is to make a less than optimal choice. Click: Click: Making the right choice.
There are two (heavily subsidised) schools of climate denial. One school believes that the vast majority of climate scientists are simply mistaken and that the less than 10% or so of climate scientists, who offer contrary arguments, are correct in their analysis.
The second school believe the fact that there are so many climate scientists arguing for the reality of rapid climate change, can only be explained by a global conspiracy of governments (and, at least in the western world, the corporations that control them) wishing to interfere in the lives of their freedom loving citizens and impose a dictatorial world government on all of humanity. Click: The global conspiracy on climate change
Click: Another conspiracy theory This is a long and highly illuminating article with multiple hyperlinks. It was specifically written to address the conspiracy theorist denier faction. Spend an hour or so studying it and the links it contains and you will end up with a good idea of most of the issues. Some of the readers’ comments below the article offer a good idea of the denial movement as a repository of common sense.