Chinese philosopher Liezi once described a story about a man from the Kingdom of Chi who was so worried that the sky would fall down that he was losing sleep and appetite and generally the will to live. The phrase “Qi Ren You Tian”(杞人忧天) has then evolved into a generic idiom describing a big fuss over nothing, used typically in negative connotations. After the global warming theory came into fashion, now once again, people are worried about the sky falling over!
In the 1970s, Soviet scientists were claiming a global cooling based on the fact that Leningrad was one degree colder than it had been in 1940. To this claim, Chinese climatologist Zhu Kezhen commented: “Qi Ren You Tian!” In terms of climate shifts, this debate occurred not that long ago, yet Bernard Shaw is right: we learn from history that we learn nothing from history.
In the ongoing Copenhagen conference, politicians are discussing whether to keep global temperature increase within 2 degrees or 1.5 degrees. I am wondering why they think they can bend the climate one way or the other in such small, precise increments? Who do they think they are?
As an ordinary citizen, I would like to share my 2 or 1.5 cents’ worth, if only to provide a different perspective on the issue. This is the finals week in many universities, so let me use an analogy: if a student turns in a final paper making vague generalizations without making the causes and effects more specific, or without controlling for confounding variables, he or she gets a very low score or even an“F” from the professor. Why, then, can scientists and politicians generalize about the climate change construct in such grandiose terms that will make even the director of 2012 blush? Recent email exchange among scientists accidentally released seemed to indicate that there is something that we in the public are not told about. I would not claim that the whole global warming idea is a hoax, but this should at least have been a more open debate before it is used as a fact upon which much of the Copenhagen discussion is based.
If there is indeed irrevocable evidence proving the trend of global warming (I am open to this result), how should humanity cope? We may be left with more things than fear and panic. Some islands may go under water, but some land will surface from glaciers. Some deserts may become green with more moisture released. The land may become more fruitful with increased heating.
With the current state of the things, I am afraid this is what it is going to come to: People talk about it, sign a general agreement, take a few group photos, smile and then each going back to the way things always are. Unless heads of states have some secret climate buttons in their bedrooms to cause all of our indoor heating to drop, I do not see how they can cause change to happen while keeping the key stakeholders out of the door: the people. There is a little trick about people: each wants to have a better life, which includes the purchase of cars and the installation of air-conditioning. There is no way you can stop that, especially if you base your reasoning upon claims that they may not buy into.
Indeed, too much focus on global warming may take priorities away from more serious issues that threaten humanity, such as poverty and wars, and yes, pollution! Most people, including those who doubt global warming, care about the environment. We are all guardians of this wonderful creation. Everyone wants to leave a world better, or at least not much worse for his or her children and grandchildren. Why not focus more on global polluting rather than global warming? Global warming is dubious in its construct, causes, effects and maneuverability, while global pollution is harmful, real, tangible, and controllable. Water contamination. Oil spills. Nuclear waste. These are issues that government can do something substantial about. So why not stop pretending to be magicians to pull numbers from hats, to focus more on pollution control and prevention? There it is more likely to get people involved to produce a real impact.