Tuesday, June 26, 2007

To Act or Not to Act

A key tenet of the environmental movement is something called the precautionary principle, an inherently conservative principle that says if a course of action could result in widespread or irreparable harm, we should act immediately to avoid it rather than wait for 100% scientific certainty on the issue. Put in the context of global warming it goes something like this.....



Thanks to Debra for the lead.

7 comments:

Mike Charbonneau said...

Thanks, Odiyya. I've added this to my blog too.

Lyze said...

Yes, I saw this video as well, and made a note of it on Facebook.

It makes a lot of sense.

Cheers for finding it.

Jagdish Madnani said...

This is really good - a logical, sensible way to look at the impending crisis. I would like to be able to spread this message thru schools, etc. In many ways our (over 35) generation has less to gain by "saving the world" as compared to the young ones. Let's spread the word among our students by entwining this enviro-message within our disciplines (math, science, social studies, etc). Thanks for doing this!

Anonymous said...

What if global warming is NOT caused by human activity? It is happening, but it is not our doing. Your argument is then specious.

Peter Dodson said...

You guys are using words like logical and sensible. We are talking about humans here - we don't do logical and sensible things with foresight. We will only act if we are forced to act. Of course we all know that acting when forced too will be acting too late, but that seems to be what we have always done. I try to have faith that we will do the right thing, but given that the U.S. Senate just raised the fuel economy rates 10 miles in the next 13 years, that faith is dwindling fast.

Odiyya said...

Anon - you are ignoring the entire argument of the precautionary principle. If you don't believe that is sound strategy to follow when faced with something that could potentially cause widespread harm that is one thing, but you're not really responding to the argument at hand.

the western world also spends trillions on defence. What if we never have to go to war again? Should we be spending that money on aircraft carriers and jets?

Sue said...

This was wonderful, and I plan to make use of it in my sociology classes, but there is a flaw. The flaw is NOT in the reasoning of the argument, but in the minds of some people. I teach people, and come in contact with people on a regular basis, whose religious belief includes a deep fear of an angry and vengeful god; a god who they believe has said, "I made this world exactly as it is, I provided everything you need, and if you act as if you puny humans can affect my world (i.e. by believing in humanly created climate change and taking action to attempt to ameliorate climate change), then I will smite you." For these people, the worse case senario of the "false"(no climate change)/"yes"(significant action) is not economic collapse, it is Armaggedeon, god destroying the world, and eternal damnation for them as individuals. An individual who believes this, compares his/her own certainty of eternal damnation against the possibility of ecological catastrophe down the road, his/her choice is clear. Now, this type of thinking isn't found in the majority of Christians, or Jews or Muslims, but it is found in the thinking of a growing minority of all those religious traditions. This type of thinking is even found among some of our top political decision-makers. It turns belief in humanly created climate change blasphamey and action to prevent it a sin. And THAT is the scarest thing of all.