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
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.