This may come as a shock, but I've decided that I really don't care anymore whether or not the Theory of Global Warming turns out to be a fact or a mistake. Oh, I still care deeply about protecting the environment. I just don't care about global warming. Let me explain what led me to this realization.
Over the past few months a couple of my friends have pointed that while there is consensus in the scientific world around global warming, consensus is not the same thing as proof, and that the proof will only really come over a period of a century or so. Of course, other friends have found this heresy shocking. Shocking, I tell you!
Fact: The average annual temperature of the planet is on the rise.
Fact: Species are going extinct at an increasing pace.
Theory: Human actions have hastened these two events through the burning of fossil fuels and other practices, and we can make certain course corrections to slow down the pace of climate change.
Note, global warming is a theory. The planet's temperature naturally goes up and down over the eons. It has been much warmer than it is now, and it has been much cooler. Any visit to the natural history museum dinosaur exhibit will tell you that mass extinctions have also happened periodically during the planet's long life.
What is unknown, but is presented as fact by well-meaning individuals and groups, is the exact extent to which human actions cause or contribute to these otherwise natural cycles. And, again, I don't care. Here's why:
I think that the focus on global warming has done a great disservice to the environmental movement. By putting all our attention on a problem that we may or may not be able to witness, and may or may not be able to effect, and may or may not be able to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt, we have lost focus on things we can see, things we can prove, and things we can effect.
We have the data to show the human health toll of burning certain fuels and dumping certain chemicals. We have shown that it is possible to restore habitats and clean the air and water through localized efforts. And we have the data to show the improvement in human (and animal) health when such environmental efforts are put into place.
These local efforts, where citizens can see and feel the effects of their actions - both positive and negative - are where the environmental movement should re-focus their energies. Because these efforts are real. And they add up.
If the Theory of Global Warming turns out to be a fact, then these small local efforts will combine to have the positive impact we need to slow it down. And, if the Theory turns out to have been an unnecessary scare, so what? We'll still know that we've done right by our communities.
Here's another little fact for you: Homo Sapiens will go extinct. It may be in the next ten years through our efforts at spreading democracy or God or whatever else we're fighting for. It may be in the next century by poisoning our planet. It may be in 100,000 years through the natural cycles of the planet. Whatever. But, sooner or later, we all join the dinosaurs.
Till then, the best we can do is to each take care of the little square of earth that we have dominion over. As a very wise person once told me, "Don't pi** in the water supply." Just remember that and we'll be alright.