Paul M. Craig: Arguing about reality of climate change a distraction

Monday, April 17, 2017
Arguing climate change reality a distraction

President Trump tells us climate change/global warming is a hoax. I wish I knew exactly what he means.

After all, climate change melted away the glacial ice sheet that once covered the land that became his Manhattan home. Eons earlier, climate change had made life on Earth possible, and as a matter of cosmological hypothesis, changing climate was the precondition for the formation of Earth itself.

Earth, its land, water and atmosphere, evolved until life came into existence with the eventual appearance — about 250,000 years ago — of us, the new species Homo sapiens. For millennia humans had no more impact on the environment and climate than any of the other apes, monkeys or hominids. But, by about 15,000 years ago, humans created settled societies based on agriculture and cities. Human activity was becoming a new component in climate change.

We need a pie chart showing the percentages of all causes of climate change. Of course this chart would be highly speculative because we don’t understand all the factors that contribute to climate change. For example, into the mid-20th century the scientific consensus was that no life could exist at the bottom of the deepest oceans. Then the U.S. Navy went down there and found a plethora of previously unknown life forms. The deep-ocean effect on climate change is still unknown.

Arguing about the reality of climate change is an intellectually dishonest distraction. While we can’t stop the evolutionary process of climate change, we can reduce pollution — the real problem — without getting mired in a lexical swamp of climate change rhetoric.

By simply changing his mind about climate change, President Trump could encourage Congress — through research and regulation — to make real bipartisan progress on cleaning up the Earth to minimize the human component of climate change.

Paul M. Craig