Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Some like it hot...

I need to seriously pause and re-examine a lot of things that I believed in.

I never ever thought, even for a minute, that my belief in global warming would be shaken... from its very roots!

Ever since I watched "An Inconvenient Truth", I began to believe, with every particle of my being, in the concept of global warming. I kept telling myself... "I can see it for real happening around me! The weather has changed so drastically over the years! Must be because of global warming!"

Except there was one slight problem... places I have lived in have been getting cooler and cooler :-/ Thats kinda like the opposite of global warming! (and not something I am really complaining about)

But then again, people say "global warming" is not the right terminology. Overall, there will be warming, but there will also be cooling in some places. Hmm... well... okaaay... I guess I can accept that...

Then just a few weeks back, I read Michael Crichton's "State of Fear". That turned my whole world upside down! He says global warming is just a myth! And what's more... for the first time, in a novel, I saw citations of papers from journals like Science and Nature (for the non-science folk, those are two of the most reputed journals... kinda like gold standard for scientists). Al Gore didn't give any citations in "An Incovenient Truth". He just kept saying thats "scientists" say.... but no hard proof. After looking at the citations in the novel, I was wondering... is global warming really a myth?

I did what I do best when I'm confused. I checked the citations. They were all valid papers. Not science fiction. Then I checked what people in general had to say about the book. After all, a book by a famous author claims that global warming is a myth. He must have stirred up some controversy. I read through those reviews. The authors of some of the cited papers claim that Michael Crichton has "misinterpreted" their results or deliberately drawn wrong conclusions to support his claim. Some industry gave him an award and the environment support groups screamed foul play. Now I am in a fix. What the heck do I believe???

My city is getting cooler. And from what I heard, so are many other cities in this country. But ice is melting from the poles of this planet. Carbon dioxide levels are increasing in the atmosphere, but we have such insufficient knowledge about weather patterns on this place, how do we know that all this is interconnected? Too much conflict in the evidence. I am still confused about what to believe.

I guess at the end of the day, I realise that I am not naive enough to think that human beings can never have a visible impact on the planet and its atmosphere. I know we are more than capable of altering the climate of this planet. Whether we are doing it right now or not, is another matter all together. I know for a fact that we are running out of fossil fuels. And we don't have an alternate energy source that can be used to completely replace fossil fuels in our lives. So I am aware that a little bit of conservation can go a long way.

I must admit though, Al Gore's documentary was pretty scary. It scared me enough to push me to say no to plastics as much as possible, to save water, to recycle etc etc. Lets assume for a minute that global warming is a myth... just a hypothesis... if ultimately the belief in global warming manages to motivate people like me to actively conserve energy, is it really so bad for us to believe in something that may or may not exist?

P.S.: I must also admit that the last line in the author's note made me raise an eyebrow... Crichton says... "Everybody has an agenda. Except me." What am I supposed to make of that? :-/


Confused Soul said...

As far as I know global warming has a greenhouse effect on the earth - hence making hot places hotter and cool places cooler?

Anonymous said...

global warming is real, i do yell abt it sometimes like this ->

i think only awareness could make a change
long live mother earth!

Clueless said...

Wow, I thought I had commented on this. I've definitely read it and I remember forming a comment in my head, but I guess I didn't put it down on ... well, the 'net. Weird.

I don't know what to believe wrt global warming (I do believe that people have agendas, though, and this could just be one of those cases), but I do know that it's important nonetheless for us to protect the environment. At this point in time, we're certainly causing more harm than good, and whether that will immediately result in global warming is anyone's guess, but somewhere down the line, things are going to bad if we keep it up. As always, prevention is better than cure.