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John Chuckman

EXPANSION OF A COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

 

“The existence of thousands of species may well depend on it.”

That is a statement which actually says nothing. It cannot be an argument for doing anything, much less launching gigantic, costly projects on a planetary scale.

We simply have not established humanity’s responsibility for climate change.

There would be no conflicts or contradictions otherwise, as there very much are.

Yes, we have climate change, just as the earth has had for the entire existence of its climate.

As for losing species, one could likely fill a large book just with the names of species which have disappeared over the last several million years, including, importantly, human-like species.

And we seem to discover new species now regularly with our improved technologies, so we have certainly have lost species we never even known existed.

The earth – like the universe – evolves, and it never stops evolving until the ultimate and unavoidable end of its own existence a few billion years from now when our sun becomes a nova and burns it to a cinder or when the Andromeda Galaxy collides with our own as it is on course for doing in a few billion years, whichever comes first.

Planets rise and fall, suns rise and fall, and galaxies rise and fall – that is the universe in which we live. It is chaotic, and the vast forces relentlessly at work take no account of any species.

The kind of thinking embedded in an article of this nature is really just an update of the same old Christian-Hebrew stuff about God having created every last species in a perpetual world of unchangeable, divine perfection. We have Noah’s creatures, marching two-by-two into the Ark to be saved from the God’s promised vengeance of flood at humanity’s misbehaviour.

The names have changed – including pretty much the dropping of God from the picture – but the view and the message are precisely the same. It all reminds me of today’s many overly-earnest young adults who believe with a religious passion that exactly what they do or do not eat is a matter of eternal salvation much resembling taking Holy Communion.

If science proves unambiguously that human actions are accelerating or disturbing the natural course of changes in climate, I will be among the first to embrace it, but science has not yet done that.

Even then, it will be important to assess the relative costs of taking vast and costly measures versus society’s simply adapting to change before launching earth-scale projects of unknown effectiveness.

Arguments about this or that species which may not survive are virtually without logical force, considering history. We’ve watched many, many species disappear just since Darwin’s day, and of course the entire population of the earth, virtually every species, has changed since the end of the dinosaurs about 60 million years ago. And a good thing, too, or we would not even be here.

Calls for massive, world-scale programs on the basis of no certain knowledge remind me of nothing so much as the proposed vast projects in the old Soviet Union to alter the courses of entire vast river systems and the like.

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Response to another reader’s comment:

I have planted a great many trees in my lifetime, but only because I love trees, not because I thought I was “saving the planet.”

 

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