- Is this warming anything more than occasional shifts of climate that scientists have long known about?
- Is this warming anthropogenic?
- If the answers to #1 and #2 are Yes, what will ensue if nothing is done?
- What are the ethics of corrective actions?
As for question #3, we must resist the widespread tendency to catastrophize recklessly and we must acknowledge the pitfalls of computer projections. Software models are risky business, and my skepticism about computer projections has not been dispelled. We certainly know enough about global warming to say that its consequences will be bad, but predictions that the new North Carolina beach will be at this specific place or that specific place in Onslow County are impossible.
It's the ethical questions of global warming that interest and concern me the most, however:
- What do we say to the third-world societies whom we are apparently willing to eradicate in order to preserve our first-world lifestyle? Is this moral?
- Do we deny people in second-world societies the opportunity to improve their lifestyles because the resultant growth in energy consumption would intensify global warming? Is this fair?
- Within the USA, if energy prices increase by a multiple of three or four in order to utilize green sources of energy and to discourage consumption, are we prepared to assist lower-income persons who would be priced out of the energy market? Do we consider access to a baseline of energy consumption per capita to be a basic human right? If so, will we follow through with the requisite redistribution of wealth?