For years I believed in order to solve the monumental problem of climate change I needed to convince everyone around me that it is “real”. I thought it was a debt. And like any debate or test I studied and prepared for the questions. I spent hours researching the science behind why taking black sludge out of the ground and combusting it makes our planet heat up with hundreds of resulting effects.
I learned that carbon dioxide molecules (and other greenhouse gases) have the ability to vibrate in ways other gases like nitrogen and oxygen do not, which allows them to absorb infrared radiation and release it. This vibration effectively traps heat and earns carbon dioxide the title of a greenhouse gas. Therefore, taking the oil and coal out of the ground (where the carbon has been stored for millions of years) and putting it in the atmosphere would warm the planet.
This logic makes sense right?
However, there is still a debate…a debate that I doubt will be won by science alone.
It wasn’t until I stumbled upon a YouTube video by Greg Craven that I considered a different approach. The solution to the climate change debate may be to not solve it at all. Sounds odd huh? Well, Craven’s argument is similar to Pascal’s Wager on the existence of God.
Pascal’s Wager focuses on the losses of believing or not believing in God. Pascal proposes that believing in God will either result in eternal salvation or nothingness. However, if you do not believe in God your choices are eternal damnation or the status quo. Therefore, Pascal says to hell if He’s real or not real (pun intended) my possible losses are much greater if don’t believe verses if I do.
So how does this relate to climate change? Well, Craven believes the exact same mindset can be applied with his approach. If we act on climate change and make a better world focusing on renewable energy, recycling, and lower our greenhouse gas emissions we either save the world preventing catastrophe or lose money investing in alternative forms of energy. The other alternative would be to not act on preventing climate change (or be inactive by continually debating) resulting in either civilization continuing as usual or economic, political, sociological, and environmental catastrophe. The conclusion? By acting now to prevent further climate change our possible loses are monumentally less than if we did not act or continued to debate forever!
I believe in science and science tells me that climate change is happening now. However, the general public may have different opinions. Time will tell if the climate change debate will come to a conclusion, but why wait until it’s resolved? Instead of debating let’s act, we have too much to lose.