Friday, July 10, 2009

Mortal Hubris

In reading about the Group of Eight’s decision on so-called global warming, I was somewhat relieved and much amused.

I was relieved that saner heads must have prevailed, so that our leaders aren’t pledging draconian measures that would push us all back into frontier times. Has anybody ever stopped to think what a wild measure like locking carbon-dioxide emissions to 20 percent of what was emitted nearly two decades ago would entail? Has anyone tried using one-fifth of the electricity in their home that they used in 1990? Or driving one-fifth of the miles they drove in 1990? Or cutting their natural gas or heating oil consumption by 80 percent? That 80-percent-reduction talk is absolute foolishness, unless we are expected to regress drastically to live like our great-great-grandparents did--minus the wood fires.

But I was actually much amused by the political leaders’ prideful assumption that they could precisely control the world’s temperatures by government fiat. The hubris of thinking that we mortals have that much control over a vast ecosphere, that government leaders could just dial up the precise change they deem necessary—and no more! Just who do they think they are, anyway?

“Group of 8 Agrees On a Ceiling for Temperature Rise” the headline read. What will we see next?
• “Group of 8 Forbids Further Sunspots”
• “Group of 8 Outlaws Volcanoes”
• “Group of 8 Moves the Equator South”
• “Group of 8 Demands Greater Cloud Cover”
• “Group of 8 Fine-Tunes Tides”
• “Group of 8 Delays Sunrise”

It seems to me that there is a very good reason for the old quip, “Everyone talks about the weather, but no one is doing anything about it.” You can’t.

And it seems to me to be downright pathetic to wreak social and economic disaster in a foolishly prideful attempt to control the uncontrollable. “Ah, but I may as well try and catch the wind,” Bob Dylan sang.