Climate Change is a Symptom, Human Induced Environmental Degradation is the Disease

Pogo's message for the original Earth Day, April 22, 1970

By designating CO2 induced climate change as public enemy #1 we've fallen into the trap mistaking a symptom for the disease. All types of environmental degradation are caused by human intervention in natural processes. The real enemy, as Pogo clearly saw way back on the first Earth Day in 1970, is humanity itself. Confusing symptoms with causes has allowed the entire environmental movement to be hijacked by one controversial debate - the role of human CO2 production in today's observed climate change.

Please don't misunderstand my point. Though there are some notable scientists who have made statements that conflict with the mainstream scientific understanding of global warming they are a small minority. In fact most climate scientists argue that mainstream estimates are far to conservative and that they err on the side of least drama in order to avoid being labeled as alarmist.

My point is that science is by definition never able to produce indisputable conclusions when those conclusions are based on models. The sciences that rely on simplified models of actual reality do so either because there are to many variables or because there is no way to have a 'control' to judge their results against - environmentally speaking have only one Earth. So the precautionary principle has to apply.

Once upon a time, however, mainstream scientists agreed that the earth was flat, that leeches were the best medical intervention and that DDT was a miracle.  DDT first synthesized in 1874, its insecticidal properties were discovered in 1939 and in 1948 Swiss chemist Paul Hermann Müller was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his for his work with DDT as a poison for troublesome insects. As far back as the early 1940's a small minority of scientists questioned the safety of DDT but they were mostly ignored until the bestseller Silent Spring was published in 1962. It argued that DDT was poisoning wildlife, the environment and endangering human health. The public's reaction to Racheal Carson's classic launched the modern environmental movement. So keeping an open mind about the conclusions of 'experts' is always a good idea.

The modern environmental movement was/is about the disease our human over-consumption of the planet's limited resources was/is causing, not about any one particular symptom, including either pesticide pollution or CO2 pollution. Now, half a century after Slient Spring's publication, the necessary widespread environmental disease debate has been hijacked by the narrow human induced climate change topic. mr. mud wonders why?

Is it because it's simple? It isn't. Is it because it and Al Gore are sexy? Hum... Or that obscuring the real issue of our over-consumption allows the wheels of capitalist commerce to keep churning? Or is it that there's lottsa money to be made by pedaling panic? Remember it was Ken Lay of Enron who originally argued for a cap-and-trade scheme and Goldman Sachs has had by far the highest profits from the carbon trading bubble.

The environmental movement must be about the disease of capitalism with its impossible demands for endless growth when we have only one Earth with limited resources. That larger topic is what is being obscured by allowing ourselves to be trapped by the narrow debate around climate change.