For the moment, let’s assume that global climate change is real. I know, a lot of you have sent me E-mails and links to the contrary. And yes, I’m well aware of Climategate and the E-mails from the scientists that popped up on the Internet and every other news site.
But humor me, play along and pretend for a moment that climate change is a truth (for those who believe that climate change is real, I ask no change your mindset). Now that it’s real (remember, anti-climate change folks, we’re pretending) what does climate change really mean to us? How does it make us feel What does it make us do?
First, how does the idea of global warming — the idea that the globe is getting hotter and that catastrophic effects will occur — make us feel? Primarily, it scares us. No one wants the globe to heat, especially if it means that terrible things would happen — ice caps melting, Pacific islands disappearing, etc.. So where does that lead us?
This horrendous revelation leads us to an intense need to look at the reasons behind this phenomenon. And this leads us to explore carbon in the atmosphere as one of the possible culprits. In the United States, we start to break it down to fuel sources, and coal sticks out as a primary offender. At this point, we put our heads together and try to find ways to mitigate the carbon problem. If we can mitigate the carbon problem, then maybe — in this thought game that we are continuing to play — we have a chance to slow down climate change.
Because we are smart, and because we want to stop global warming, we start to look at cleaner fuel sources and start developing new ways to generate energy. This developing of new energy technology takes time, so we need to buy ourselves a couple of decades. We look at our available fuel sources and find that natural gas could be a good way to go. It’s cleaner than coal and more available than oil. Because we need the time, we start to replace coal with natural gas in electricity generation. We even consider natural gas as a transportation fuel and build natural gas “filling stations” for truck fleets. This give us the necessary leeway to build better, more affordable renewable sources of energy.
In the end, we look up (from this imaginary scenario) and realize this fear of global warming has done something really interesting. It has set us on a path to avoid this doomsday scenario and, in the end, we have advanced civilization to next generation of power creation. This drive to solve this huge problem has left us in a better place, a place where our air is cleaner, the world isn’t getting AS warm AS fast and we have an amazing shot at a bright energy future.
Now, you can stop pretending.
We’re back to the immediate present, and let’s say that these guys have totally lied about global warming and climate change. Let’s say this was a huge conspiracy to sell more windmills or an ingenious marketing ploy to get ad rates up for histrionic cable news programs. What does it really mean that we’ve sweated a phenomenon that we’re not sure about one way or the other? Is it really that bad that we’re driving hard to create a cleaner and more sustainable energy future? Is it terrible that we’re angered by coal and are now exploring natural gas and renewables as a major part of the future energy mix? Because, in the end, from where I’m standing, this game of pretending has done some pretty amazing things.