I've been watching, pondering and musing of late about the debate on whether climate change is real or not. Here in Australia, we have just witnessed the extraordinary spectacle of a political party (the Liberal Party) imploding around this issue - driven by disagreement about approaches to climate change, and strong resistance to an opposition leader who - horrors of horrors - wanted to come to an agreement with the government about an emissions trading scheme. Issues about the validity of ETS aside, the Liberal's approach was to cast the whole issue as 'a new tax', with predictable outcomes. I couldn't help thinking - again - about why politicians can't lift their sights, and help the public lift its collective sights, above the here and now. Climate change is an issue that we need to take a longer term view on, and ask the simple question, what might happen if we don't act now?
Today, I came across some comments in an email conversation by Andrew Curry, who writes at Next Wave on this very question. He writes:
For my part, it is fairly clear that the climate change bet is the modern equivalent of Pascal's wager: if they're right, and we've done something effective about the risk, we might just about get away with low enough levels of global warming to muddle through. If they're right and we do nothing, we'll be heading fast for four or five or six degrees (and I hope our kids and grandchildren forgive us); if they're wrong, and we do something, the cost will have been quite low, since we'll largely have done things which improve resource outcomes, which are an issue regardless of climate change; if they're wrong, and we do nothing ... well, that's the bet you seem to be making and you'd better hope you're right.
Emission trading schemes may not be perfect, but we need to do something now, and let's all hope and pray that the Copenhagen Summit reaches that same conclusion and agrees on some action.