Monday, December 13, 2010

Why "Saving the Earth" is stupid

Yes, climate change exists. And, yes, most climate scientists and environmental scientists believe it is primarily caused by human activity. And, yes, we should try to do something about it. But environmentalists are prone to exaggerated language. One of those exaggerations is the idea that preventing further global warming is "Saving the Earth."

The Earth has been around for a long time. During that time it has been through quite a lot. It has been struck by multiple asteroids. It was once struck so violently that it changed its name to Rihanna a huge chunk of the Earth tore off. That chunk of the Earth is what we now call "the moon." In its early years, the Earth was so hot that rock and metal boiled.

Even during times when life existed, the Earth has been far warmer than it is today. The global climate was much warmer when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth than it is now. It was the global cooling that occurred after another asteroid strike around 65.5 million years ago that gave rise to warm-blooded mammals.

This graph shows estimated global temperatures during the Phanerozoic Eon, the period during which abundant animal life has existed on Earth. Notice that we are in one of the cooler periods.

Global warming is primarily a threat to mammals. (Remember, humans are mammals.) Under global warming, vegetation will thrive. So will cold-blooded animals such as insects and reptiles. Rising ocean levels will benefit fish as well. It is us, the mammals, who are at risk. As far as humans are concerned, it is primarily a risk to people in poor countries. Therefore, the environmentalist message shouldn't be "Save the Earth," it should be "Save the Mammals."

Minimizing global climate change may save many mammals, perhaps even humans. But fear not for the Earth! Regardless of its climate, it will continue to happily orbit the sun for billions of years to come.

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