The Philosophy of Global Warming

If you are interested in the relationship between the human species and the rest of life on Earth, individual and collective human purpose, evolution, cosmology, the nature of reality, astrology, spirituality, and how all of this relates to global warming & the environmental crisis of modernity, then I am sure that you will like my new book 'The Philosophy of Global Warming'. In the post below I have provided the book description, the list of contents and the first two sections of the book. You can find out how to get hold of the book by clicking on this link:

The Philosophy of Global Warming

Monday, 30 November 2015

The Insignificance of Humans

You are probably aware that as I write these words the leaders of many of the world's countries are in Paris for a United Nations conference on climate change (COP21). The sole focus of this meeting seems to be either countries making commitments to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions, or aiding other countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

It is striking that all of the people involved in this conference (I assume that it is all, but at least the overwhelming majority), have a shared underlying view. It is such a common and widespread view that I am sure that you hear it on a regular basis. It such a widespread and common view that people just keep on repeating it, and it gets repeated so much that people just seem to automatically believe that it is true. When people utter this view they never, ever, seem to get questioned as to why they believe it to be true. Of course, this view is actually completely wrong! The view is, as expressed by Professor Martin Attrill from Plymouth University's Marine Institute, and concerning taking action to prevent man-made climate change:

  • "It's not about saving the planet - it will carry on quite happily when we are gone... It's about protecting society. If we don't check things within 50 years, then it will be a very difficult place to live in."      (Western Morning News, 29 November 2015, p. 7).

This view entails that the human species is totally insignificant as far as the planet is concerned. We are of no importance to the planet, to life on Earth, whatsoever. In other words, according to Professor Attrill, and all the people at COP21 who share this overwhelmingly dominant view, we are, as a species, a total waste of space and the planet will be happy when we are gone. How utterly clueless these people are!

Let us help these clueless people out a bit. The planet, specifically the planet as a life-bearing thriving part of the Solar System, would not "carry on quite happily" if the human species were to become extinct. This is the opposite of the truth. The human species, as the enabler of the technological birthing process, is the most precious part of the planet that has ever come into being. The future thriving of live, and ultimately its survival, depends on the continued existence of the human species. If the human species were suddenly to get wiped off the face of the Earth, then life would not "carry on quite happily". It would be a day of such great immense sadness, despair and depression for life on Earth, that we can barely comprehend the extent of this desperation; this day would be the death knell for life on Earth.

In the context of COP21, is the realisation of the planetary significance of humans important? Of course it is! If the planetary significance of the evolution of the human species in the context of the unfolding planet / Solar System is realised, then one will know that the deployment of technology to control the atmospheric temperature is an inevitability, and that it is a very good thing. If one comprehends the place of the human species in the unfolding planet / Solar System then one will also realise that the phenomenon of significant climate change (human and non-human) will not be averted by reducing fossil fuel emissions. So, focusing so much energy on this non-solution is a futile waste of energy.

Of course, fossil fuels will run out. by definition, so we do need to move to renewable sources of energy. However, this is a very different thing from believing that such a switch is a solution to the phenomenon of global warming, or global warming-induced climate change. Let me repeat this. As fossil fuels run out, the smooth operation of energy-intensive societies clearly requires renewable energy sources. Everyone knows this. The important thing to realise is that this switch is no solution to the phenomenon of imminent global warming and significant climate change. Not only is our planetary significance due to our ability to deploy technology to enable life to survive and thrive, but the only way to prevent significant global warming and climate change over the next 100-200 years is to deploy our technology to control the atmospheric temperature. Initially this just involves mastering the art of directly removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and returning them to underground storage.


Friday, 13 November 2015

The Conflation of Climate Change & Global Warming

You will probably be aware that there is an increasing trend for these two terms - climate change and global warming - to be used interchangeably, as if they mean exactly the same thing. Let me explain why this is slightly worrying.

Of course, both of these separate phenomena occur on the planet in the absence of human influence. Throughout the history of the Earth there has been global warming; indeed, the early Earth was too cold for life to thrive; there had to be non-human-induced global warming in order for the atmospheric temperature of the Earth to rise to a level at which life could thrive. Similarly, there has been non-human-induced climate change throughout the history of the Earth. There are obviously close links between these two phenomena - non-human-induced global warming being a partial cause of non-human-induced climate change.

In our current epoch these two terms are typically used to refer to human influence on the Earth, so let us focus on this influence. The phenomenon of human-induced global warming came to prominence in intellectual thought due to the realisation that the greenhouse gases that humans had released from underground storage into the biogeochemical cycles of the Earth, through the industrial revolution, would cause the atmospheric temperature to rise if they built up in the atmosphere to a significant extent.

The phenomenon of human-induced global warming struck many people to be a phenomenon which we should take very seriously. And these people are right.

There was possibly a worry that talk of global warming seems abstract and difficult, hard to get a handle on. The public at large might wonder how it would affect their daily life. So, talk switched more to human-induced climate change. Environmentalists like to talk about the climate changing because they can scare people: there will be droughts, there will be famines, there will be mass migration of climate change refugees, sea level rise will submerge populated islands!

So, nowadays, people typically use the terms interchangeably. Shall we talk of global warming? Shall we talk of climate change? Who cares, because they are really the same thing!

Let me explain why this is wrong; let me explain why this is worrying.

Humans can easily stop human-induced global warming. No problem, this is easy stuff. If the cause of human-induced global warming is a build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which has occurred because humans moved things (fossil fuels) from underground storage, then stopping human-induced global warming simply means that we need to put these things back into underground storage. We are already know how to do this. We also know where it can easily be stored. No problem.

But humans cannot easily stop human-induced climate change. The human influence on the planet is so pervasive in a multitude of ways, and the climate system is so sensitive, that the climate will always be influenced to some extent through human activities (even if humans do not / did not cause global warming). There can be no doubt about this. This is just something we have to live with; something we have to expect and prepare for as best as we can.

The main lesson that we can learn from this consideration is that whilst we should prepare for inevitable climate change, our main focus should be on preventing human-induced global warming through returning greenhouse gases to underground storage. If we do this then there will be no major changes to the climate due to human activity; just the inevitable minor ones which we can live with and adapt to.

It is only if we do not do this that there will be significant human-induced global warming, and the very significant changes in the climate that will result from this.

As for the futility of attempting to deal with human-induced global warming through cutting fossil fuel emissions. What a total waste of time! But I have already written about this in many places already.