One of the downsides to developing a strong capacity for analytical thinking is the tendency towards skepticism
that may occasionally place an unfair burden of proof on an otherwise widely accepted fact.  That carbon dioxide
emissions are accelerating the rising temperature of our planet and putting our global ecosystem in jeopardy is one
of those facts which is now almost universally accepted but which I still hesitate to use as part of for my call for
global revolution.

The science of climate change is inexact, and there are strong arguments on both sides which cast so much doubt
on the issue that I believe it is impossible to know for certain where the truth lies.  Yes, carbon dioxide does trap
heat from the sun, but it makes up such a small percentage of our atmosphere that to insist that its effects will bring
about catastrophe within our lifetime seems like alarmist propaganda.  Yes, much of the denials that global
warming is real are written by those with an interest in protecting the corporations that are the biggest polluters,
but there is also much less of a global consensus among the world’s scientists that climate change is really the
result of carbon dioxide emissions than many environmentalists would have us believe.

I was fully convinced that climate change really was our biggest threat up until a few weeks ago, when the BBC
documentary “The Great Global Warming Swindle” cast doubt upon my convictions and forced me to do some
independent research.  What I found is that global warming probably is the result of human activity, but the fact is
we just don’t know.  There are too many conflicting versions of the science from too many conflicting sources.  If
I really wanted to know for certain I would have to earn a degree in meteorology and perform my own
experiments.

But why would anyone lie about global warming?  The biggest reason I had for believing it was real is that I didn’t
believe any powerful people would have an interest in promoting an idea that would force us to change our way of
life—the way of life that keeps them in power.  Unfortunately, that’s not a good argument, and the fact is that
there is now a huge industry with an interest in getting people and corporations to “go green.”  And the more
money that pours into the hands of the advocates of climate change, the worse the crisis seems to get.  Ten years
ago, global warming was not going to melt the ice caps for at least another century.  Now it seems that the caps
will be gone in less than two decades.

Most of all, we now have George W. Bush saying in his State of the Union Address that the threat of climate
change is real.  If George W. Bush says it’s true, I’m a lot less inclined to believe it.

So maybe global warming isn’t the catastrophe that we’re all being led to believe it is.  Does that mean we should
ignore it and do nothing?  And to that, the answer is a resounding, “
Of course not!

The burden of proof here is not on those who are saying that climate change is a threat, but those who say that it
isn’t.  If we accept that it is a threat and do nothing, we may be witnesses to the worst catastrophe that mankind
has ever known.  But if, on the other hand, we accept that the threat is real and it turns out that it
wasn’t, we will
have at least given a great deal of thought to developing models for an environmentally sustainable worldwide
social infrastructure.

Because humanity
is in jeopardy whether global warming is real or not.  The natural resources that fuel our
economies are finite and they
are going to run out.  When that happens, unless we have devoted a great deal of
effort to figuring out alternative ways for human beings to live in the world, the global infrastructure
will collapse—
and none of us wants to be around when that happens.
Skepticism and the Climate Crisis
Kem Stone - December 2007