Global Warming

If you were an investor, trying to accumulate wealth to pass on to your heirs and someone predicted that the stock market was about to collapse, would you shrug your shoulders and ignore the potential risk?  The prudent thing to do would be minimize risk and take steps to preserve as much of your wealth as you could.

Faced with the choice between having your children vaccinated against the threat of polio or taking a chance that they might never contract the disease, what would you do?  Again, the prudent thing to do would be to have them vaccinated, even if you live in a neighborhood with clean water and little risk of contracting the disease.  

In these and many other cases, prudent courses of action are based more upon the severity of possible consequences than on the statistical probability that avoidable problems will occur.  What would you think of people who carelessly disregarded such threats?

The preponderance of evidence indicates that human activity, mostly in the form of fossil fuel use, is accelerating global warming.  Even if that were not so, the consequences of global warming will include soaring food prices, mass starvation, devastating floods, drought and other disasters.  Prudent behavior regarding global warming requires that whether or not we accept the fact that we are the cause, we should take all possible steps to avoid the consequences. 

And if global warming isn’t a sufficient reason to change our behavior, the fact is that fossil fuels are what economics classifies as “scarce resources.”  As the world’s population increases, those resources will be more rapidly depleted and the prices of coal, oil and gas will increase proportionately, causing a corresponding increase in the cost of everything that is produced or transported using those fuels. 

What’s more, “green” buildings, windpower and solar energy are already saving money for families and businesses all over the world. What would you think of someone who stubbornly refused to investigate the possiblility of saving money simply because he didn’t want to admit that mankind-induced global warming is a possiblility?   And what would you think of someone who would risk having his granchildren starve for the same reason? Would you call someone like that “prudent?”

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