Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Savouring the Sacred Balance; Regardless of whether Climate Change Exists

Sometimes I notice that I've become so entrenched in this whole "eco"-ness that it surprises me when I notice other businesses or people doing something definitely non-green (like using a drive through). (the "dead zone" off of the gulf of Mexico- where no fish can live)

Another area where I find myself constantly surprised is climate change deniers. Colin (aka No Impact Man) recently wrote a post addressing the "what if climate change didn't exist?" question. It was a nice reminder that there exists an entire movement of intelligent, educated individuals who vehemently deny the existence of climate change.

My first experience with such a person was when my former colleague (an Audiologist) came to Halifax for a National Conference. As we were walking downtown I mentioned something about how warm it was this summer. B. asked why we didn't have an air conditionner, to which my reply was, of course, "Because they're bad for the environment". From there he, to my complete surprise, continued to question my answers as to why, leading to the ultimate- "Well Lisa, don't believe everything you read online, climate change doesn't exist."

Screeeeeech (cue sound effect for stopping, gaping open mouth, unsure how to respond look). This conversation spurred months of back and forth emailing, him sending me news articles, my ever increasing frustrated responses until finally I politely suggested we agree to disagree. As I've learned over these past six months, there are many degrees and versions of a climate change denier, ranging from denying that climate change exists at all to whether humans are the cause.

Now as someone who believes that climate change does exist and is caused by human activity, it is quite difficult to read accounts from very passionate deniers. However, I have come to realize that understanding the intricacies of the debate is important.

The most frustrating point, though, is it feels a bit of a waste of time to argue over the why's, or even the existance of climate change. This is why I thought Colin's post was so timely and eloquent. Regardless of whether climate change exists, or who caused it, pumping thousands of tonnes of CO2 into an atmosphere that took millions of years to evolve in order to support life over a infitismally short period of time (100 years) is not advisable. Using energy that has an expiry date, dumping chemical toxins into our precious water systems and bodies, creating huge "dead" zones where fish can no longer live, destroying our forests who are our Earth's respiratory system... these are all catastrophic actions by a civilization that claims to "know" all there is to how our planet functions.

So trying to change my mind about whether climate change exists would never change my views on the importance our changes can bring to a planet we have been bent on destroying. Or the fact that I won't ever own an airconditionner, contributing to my city's smog (and subsequently increasing respiratory diseases in it's citizens) just ain't my thing. My favourite "I'm glad..." of his list: numbers 4, 5 and 12. :)

If you'd like more information on Canada's official position on climate change please check out their site. They also include a convenient link and summary of "The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment (2007). Also, David Suzuki has an article addressing the debate on the existence and cause of climate change.

Brooks reminded me today (with her ever thoughtful posts!) on how strongly I do believe that, however naive I may seem, "Yes, together we can make a difference. That my choices, however small, are statements that my Earth matters to me. As a community, we can savour our world and help Her maintain Her Sacred Balance. That we all have potential for compassion, love and action."


Article authored by EcoYogini at ecoyogini.blogspot.com


  1. I don't mean this to be inflammatory, but I have to share: I have never actually heard a rational argument that climate change does not exist.

    Now, I have not gone out of my way to research those arguments. I have only heard the people who pop up here and there, shouting that it's all a conspiracy or something.

    I don't understand how anyone can argue it doesn't exist at all, since there is abundant physical proof that it does. This confuses me!!

    If people want to argue the scale or timeframe or cause, OK. But that it exists at all? I am baffled.

  2. Emma: sigh- B. was my first encounter to a rational argument. It went something like: the past 100 years aren't the first 'warming' or change in climate that the Earth has had, so it's not an anomaly but a normal fluctuation of the Earth's temperature-climate.
    He had a whole slew of 'scientific-y' articles and news reports for me to read (which I did) and although I found 'holes' in each- they were more rational than I expected, and well thought out. Although I don't agree, it was frustratring.
    Even the simple fact of agreeing that CO2 is not a good thing can be difficult- many 'deniers' claim that pushing people to offset their carbon emissions can result in things like cutting down rainforests to plant fast growing trees etc etc.

    what you said though, was EXACTLY how I felt last October- WTF? how can anyone argue that it doesn't exist?? lol.

  3. The way I see, you can't deny that the population is growing, that resources are limited, and there is great inequity in the use of those resources; therefore, whether or not humans caused global warming, we still can't continue on with our current way of doing things. Earth needs to be respected regardless.

  4. i get all fired up reading about things like the dead zone in the gulf of mexico. meanwhile it's so hard to convince people that every little change matters - i can't even convince my bf - as in we still have AC :-( But I agree that Colin put together SUCH a great list of why it all matters even if human-induced climate change doesn't exist (which I think it does!)

  5. Awesome post. I hear this all the time, too, and I think: Huh?! For real, you don't believe in this?

    Though, I have to confess, I have also read some pretty logical arguments AGAINST global warming. But it made me think: My greatest worry of the moment is not the polar icecaps melting. It's not global warming. It's that frogs and fish are mutating from the chemicals we've dumped into the water systems. It's the ocean that has turned into a landfill. It's the cities that live under an umbrella of toxic smog. It's deforestation, overpopulation, pollution, and a complete disregard for the earth that seems so rampant in this society.

    Now how can anyone argue with THAT? Right? ;)

  6. Julia: yup I can relate. Small steps right? especially for those near and dear to us who just aren't yet there... :)

    Greenspell: EXACTLY. That was the weird thing- I was, grudgingly, surprised at just how rational some of these arguments were. I guess it just goes to show that Al Gore was a catalyst for a movement, just like other movements, exageration and some inacuracies to motivate people to DO something :)

  7. Yes the no-such-thing-as-global-warming camp is freakishly well-argued....but they do leave out the bits where in the Earth's NATURAL history, there weren't too many people or too many cars or too many toxins or too many....etc. etc. etc.

    Quite frankly, these people have their heads jammed firmly up their arses'. Truly, does the weather not mean something? Like why is it freakishly bloody hot out west and raining every day in Ontario?!?!

    Sorry...I just get really annoyed with the people who are in denial..it's just another way to deflect blame and to cling onto their irresponsible habits....


  8. There is even an argument that global warming is all that is keeping us from entering another ice age.

    I don't think we will know the full extent and force of climate change till after it has happened. I don't think it matters - they are just details...

    What matters is that we look after this planet to the best of our ability. That we don't let thousands of years of evolution die because some **** wants to build a car park on the last piece of land some rare animal or plant lives, just so they can make some money. That we don't use all the resources of this planet in the blink of an eye. That we don't choke the rivers or fry everything around us with radiation.

    The earth will go on, with or without us but I would like for us to be here, in our rightful role as guardians of this beautiful planet...

  9. Thank you for visiting my blog and commenting on my post about this topic. Some people will never be convinced that humans are contributing to climate change so I think we need to focus on convincing them that we can take actions that will make the world a more pleasant place to live. That's what No Impact Man so eloquently shared in his post.

  10. Hi Lisa,

    I'm glad you posted about this.

    I am also a fellow environmentalist who does everything she can to intelligently reduce her impact, but I also find the "climate change is a sham" argument very compelling.

    Not so long ago, the NY Times published an article on this man called Freeman Dyson who is a very experienced scientist and also a nay-sayer of climate change (the article is here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/29/magazine/29Dyson-t.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all)

    It was the first time I read something that made me think, "Hmmmm...maybe all this green hype is a little sensationalist".

    The way I see it, practicing conservatism with resources is a good habit to cultivate regardless of any impending armageddon, so I'm not going to change my ways anyway, but this article (and others I read thereafter) gave me a bit of perspective.

    The truth is, we just CAN'T know about the future, if plants will evolve to deal with excess carbon, or if we really are doomed.

    Anyway, good to have info from both sides!

    Take care,

  11. I do believe that global warming exists, but it really doesn't matter ... the changes of a more sustainable lifestyle are worth it whether they impact the climate or not. They make life better for ourselves and others, and I don't see how anyone can argue with that.


I love hearing from you! So I don't miss a comment, I like "pre-approving" them :)
I ask only that we stay respectful.
Also, please note that this is a personal blog and not a space for advertising your company. I reserve the right to delete "advertising" comments.

**NB: The ANONYMOUS option is the BEST way to comment if you don't have a blogger or established google/gmail account.