Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Climate change: More thought is needed!

The Blowfly, like many other mere mortals around the globe, has been struggling with the climate change issue. He has been searching for a new angle to help him clarify his perspective.

Insect’s brains are not the largest instruments in the world. Nonetheless if small things are used effectively then a lot of pleasure can still be generated. Sometimes size does not matter!

Let’s imagine for a moment that you are the Earth’s atmosphere.

From space you are seen as a thin layer that returning astronauts must negotiate at just the right angle otherwise they are cactus.

Millennia ago you were substantially hotter. Over the years quite a bit of the vegetation and other carbon-based life was buried and is now being re-cycled as oil and coal. This is recycling carbon back into the atmosphere.

Some say that this is making me warm up.

However, others say that I am cooling.

There does not seem to be consensus. Scientists can’t seem to agree as to whether I have a problem and, more recently, it’s the economists that can’t agree on how to solve my problem.

When scientists can’t agree that is bad enough (remember the struggle that my inhabitants had when a scientist suggested that the earth might have been round instead of flat).

But when economists can’t agree that could be diabolical (remember the economic debate that ensued about the best way to fix the Great Depression----some economists prescribed cutting back public expenditure and yet John Maynard Keynes suggested putting people on the public payroll and injecting funds to keep the economy moving).

It’s a bit like a human body that is presented to a number of doctors for a diagnosis. Several, possibly conflicting, diagnoses are predictable. And , depending on the diagnosis provided, there would be several courses of treatment that could be prescribed.

It is extremely difficult to measure whether I am cooling or warming. There are many parts and places to me. Some parts of me are hotter and some parts are cooler.

Thermometers were only invented in the late 16th century so we don’t have temperature measurements before then. And there weren’t enough thermometers around the globe until 150 years ago to get enough measurements to get an average.

And some people have been using these new-fangled things called computer models to predict whether I’m getting hotter or colder-----on average!

It’s difficult enough to get a good assessment of my health when scientists and economists can’t agree. But imagine the complexity of determining a proper diagnosis and getting a good outcome when politicians have the levers.

Some politicians tell the people that a carbon tax is just what the doctor ordered. Others say that a carbon tax will cause the sky to fall in and the patient will expire.

For me, the Earth’s atmosphere, it is a rather simple exercise. I feel best when I am out in the sun-----and sunlight is free!

The Blowfly is only a simple creature but he is able to recall the words of Bertrand Russell: ”Even when the experts all agree, they may well be mistaken.”

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