I occasionally find John Tierney’s contrarian column in the Science section of the New York Times enlightening, but invariably when he writes about climate change I want to punch a hole through the wall.
His latest column has to do with supposed doomsayers calling for expensive reductions in GDP to combat climate change. The gist is that doomsayers have always been wrong, so people thinking the sky is falling (by warming us off the plane of existence) are both wrong and liable to hurt us in attempting to halt dangerous climate change.
Presented with this strawman, it is at this point that I bang my head against the wall.
My big questions to Tierney are: What is doomsday to him? Is it the loss of more than 80% of the world’s tropical forests? Would doomsday include a decline in global species diversity by more than 50%? Does Tierney’s doomsday scenario include drastically different rainfall patterns and the potential displacement of 1/6 of the world’s human population?
The bias in Tienery’s writing is anthropocentrism: it doesn’t appear to matter if other forms of life should be relegated to the waste bin of history, because humans will survive whatever doomsday scenario is attributed to those of us concerned about climate change.
I’ll be honest: I’m not actually that worried about humans surviving a drastically different environment on earth. We put a man on the moon, and we’ll survive temperatures in excess of their historic range. My concern is about the ability of future generations to enjoy the things that I so cherish about the current biosphere: tropical and temperate rain forests, millions of amazing and exotic species, spots on the earth that look nothing like any other spot on an incredibly small planet. These are a small part of my personal doomsday scenario, and Tierney apparently doesn’t think these things are worth trying to protect.