My take on global warming is intuitive rather than scientific, based on information readily available from my brain. It goes like this:
A) There is a fixed amount of carbon on the planet.
B) Burning stored, high-carbon materials releases carbon into the atmosphere.
C) Petroleum is basically the world’s carbon bank — compressed biomatter from jungles that existed on earth hundreds of millions of years ago.
D) In the past 100 years, a very large percentage of all the petroleum that our planet has ever produced has been burned, and ALL that carbon has been released into the atmosphere.
E) Release of that much carbon into the atmosphere has to be unprecedented in at least the last several million years.
F) It’s simply counterintuitive to believe that 100 years of heavy industrial production based on the burning of petroleum would not affect the behavior of the earth’s atmosphere.
G) The way things are going, we will easily burn up every last drop of oil on the planet in the next century or two. In the next century or three after that, historians will call us the most selfish, short-sighted humans in the planet’s history because we were borrowing all that oil from future generations — with no prospect, no plan, no earthly idea of paying it back.
H) We can adapt to life with different weather, but adapting to a world without petroleum will be the far greater challenge.
I) Given all these considerations, the mandate to save petroleum by not burning it all wastefully yields the same result: less carbon in the atmosphere and reduced global warming, and more petro-chemicals for future generations, giving us more time to develop more sustainable energy sources.
- Billions of humans burning highly concentrated, carbon-based materials are bound to screw with the weather when all that carbon is released into the atmosphere.
- Petroleum is the most powerful, practical component of industrial society. It is, literally, the grease on the wheels. Without it, industry stops. We don’t want that.
- As a matter of moral principle, each of us should reduce our petroleum consumption to ensure there will be some oil left for our great-great-great-grandchildren and their great-great-great grandchildren.
Al Gore overstates the extent to which the Earth is in the Balance. If anything, Earth is looking forward to the day when we foolishly burn all the oil and resort to massive warfare and bioterror and whatever else it takes to cleanse our species from the planet’s surface. Earth gets back into balance when we’re not mucking up the place anymore.
We’re flying through resources under the mass delusion that we have a say in how things turn out, when the best we can hope for is learning to play by the planet’s rules. Cheaters get to sleep with the dinosaurs.