Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Global Warming, Carbon Emissions, Fossil Fuel Use, and Ingenuity?

I had a very windy (i.e. relatively heated) debate with Funkdubie over things learned in my Global Change and Climatology Earth Sciences/Geology course when when we were asked to compile everything we had learned, filtering it into answering the simple question of "should we limit carbon emissions?”  

The majority of the debate with Funkdubie was over the science involved, the lack of long-term (think geologic timescales) data, and (to paraphrase myself) the 'grandiose thinking of humans that we know everything, can fix everything, and are the cause of everything'.  I admit, I may actually have something there.  Maybe we are grandiose?  Regardless, that's a different blog!  

When I look at all of the data that I've discovered during this class (800k years of ice core data analysis, the literal climatic history of Earth, etc) and we look at the options for "global warming" and the underlying questions surrounding global warming... being asked if we should force carbon emission and fossil fuel use limitations now is really quite a loaded question.  All of the data doesn’t give some epiphany of an answer; rather, it just prompts me to sit back and ponder even more questions.  In the end, and I’d never admit this to Funkdubie, he had a valid point that we must consider a more socioeconomic motive – no matter what the science says – which always seems to outweigh other things.  His words that actual ring true are: 

“An artificial regulation of resources doesn’t spur ingenuity like an actual shortage of those same resources.” 

While we are working towards a start to fix the carbon footprint of humanity, the pressure to do so is neither readily economically feasible nor are the means that we have “tinkered with” an end-all resolution/solution.  While I commend that we are beginning the eventual proverbial race for alternatives, our current efforts are likely more of a ‘stretching the muscles’ in preparation for the race that is forthcoming.  While we should continue to encourage carbon-emission-fossil-fuel-use-limits, the sad truth is that until we have no options (due to limited resources making fossil fuel use economically arduous), the true meaning behind “necessity is the mother of invention” will likely not transpire.