Brian Gordon: I just don’t get it, Part 1

Brian Gordon is a Canadian Green Party member and candidate trained by Al Gore to present An Inconvenient Truth.

I used to be a climate sceptic, so I understand where people are coming from.

Image via Flickr

That much, I get. What I don’t get is why some sceptics don’t believe the science. They seem to fall into two categories:

Today, let’s deal with #1. Tomorrow, after I stop laughing, we can deal with #2 – which would be a lot funnier if people like Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn’t believe it.

Science…is never certain. Gravity is pretty definite, mind you, but most other things are not so settled. Pretty much everyone except a few quacks now agree that smoking greatly increases your risk of getting cancer. Not in everyone, of course; we all know someone who smoked until the age of 99 and then got hit by a bus. But generally, we know that smoking is like playing Russian Roulette on a longer time scale. But imagine if you waited for certainty – if your doctor warned you to quit smoking, and you replied, Hey doc, I’ll quit when I know smoking is going to give me cancer – well, that would be just stupid, wouldn’t it?

Perhaps you don’t care about yourself; you like smoking and are willing to take your chances with cancer. Suppose the doctor told you that your smoking was greatly increasing the risk of asthma in your young children? Anyone who wouldn’t quit upon hearing this, well, I don’t want to listen to.

So now we come to global warming. There are an awful lot of scientists who say that the odds are greater than 90% that humans are causing global warming, which in turn is causing climate change, which is going to be very, very bad for humanity. Thousands of scientists, in fact, from dozens of countries and hundreds of institutions from universities to NASA. And the national science academies from most countries, including Canada and the U.S.

So my question is, how much certainty is enough for you? Do you wait until the doctor tells you that you have cancer? That it has metastasized throughout your body? That you have weeks to live? When is enough for you? When you’re lying in a hospital bed, half your healthy weight, tubes running in-and-out of you everywhere? When the priest is giving you last rites?

The same reasoning applies to the climate. If you wait until there is absolutely no doubt that you have cancer/that global warming is real, it is too late.

The doctors are telling us that we have a problem. In this case, we’ve already got cancer; now it’s just a question of whether we can change in time to save ourselves and our children.

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