What if the tree huggers are wrong? What is the harm?

Estimated peak oil production,
and when the oil runs out:



First, this is not meant to be a thread to hash out whether or not you believe we are wetting our own bed on a global scale and whether or not wetting the bed has an adverse effect on it's health. Most of us believe it does. Some believe it doesn't. Been there, posted that, getting redundant. Due to the lack of a storeroom full of scale-model test planets on which we can directly infuse with CO2 and see what happens, the believers will never be able to prove it to the satisfaction of the deniers. Nor will the deniers convince the believers that the big ass brown cloud of smog over every major city is just a coincidence and isn't hurting anything. 

My question is this: What if we, on a global scale, reduce our trash output and CO2 to a minimum, switching as much as reasonable to recyclables, renewables, and clean energy, and it turns out to have been totally unnecessary? 100 years from now someone invents a giant climate-O-meter and says, "Oops. Turns out all that smog and hypoxic zones and the continent-sized flotsam fields in the oceans weren't hurting a thing." 

How have we hurt ourselves/what have we lost by going green?

Because whether one believes in Anthropogenic Global Warming or not:

- We have a finite supply of what is the bulk of our energy. Not finite as in thousands of years, but in terms of decades. A century or two at best. 

- There is little argument about the human health hazards of living in a major city engulfed in smog, or having a coal plant in your backyard.

- We are putting out trash faster and in greater volumes than it takes the planet to decompose it. I'm not exaggerating about those trash fields being the size of a continent.

Yes, the initial cost to changeover from coal to wind, oil to solar or geothermal, that initial cost is high. It takes time for new tech to start paying for itself. But in the long run it pays for itself. Shell out the money to buy in bulk today ... save over the long term. Simple math. 

Yes, recycling has hardly been streamlined here in the U.S. at least. In some cases it costs more to recycle a widget than it does to chuck it and make a new one. But that too is growing in efficiency. 

So as best as I can tell, if us tree huggers are wrong, the worst that's happened is that the oil mogul's great-grandchildren's trust funds won't be as big. In the short term we spent some extra bucks changing to green energy, but we would have had to do that eventually anyway.

Oh, and Al Gore got rich off some books. That seems to be the number one what-we-have-to-lose that I hear from the anti-AGW crowd. Because it is just such a global disaster for Al Gore to sell books. 

Can anyone else tell me how I am bringing about the demise of our civilization by recycling my plastics and going solar?

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Perhaps you're correct Susan. Then we'd have to discuss "the Green Revolution" that occurred between 1945 and 1970. Newly developed wheat and rice varieties, coupled with techniques such as monoculture, increased the yield in places like India, Mexico and Africa by 8-10 times. The populations of those areas had been under threat of famine. 20 years later they were exporting food.

This significantly increased the "carrying capacity" of the Earth for people. Population more than doubled in 50 years and is expected to increase by another 3-4 billion by 2050.

If we're to avoid mass famine/disease/war we need to limit the population and also to repair the damage we've done to the environment. The population can increase only as a function of reducing the standard of living. That does not appeal to me.

I do agree that we should reduce our carbon footprint and simultaneously increase our use of quickly renewable energy. However, it will make no difference if we do not stop population growth. CO2 problems are a symptom, not a primary cause.

Regards,
GaryB
I think Mr Hitchens sums up this issue quite well.

Watch what he said here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDj6WechLhw

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