Sanity Injection

Injecting a dose of sanity into your day’s news and current events.

Posts Tagged ‘tipping point’

There is no environmental “point of no return”.

Posted by sanityinjection on October 26, 2009

Amid all the discussion about climate change, one point that is made frequently by the global warming hysteria lobby is this: The earth will soon reach a “tipping point” or “point of no return”, at which time the amount of damage that has been done by man to the earth’s ability to self-regulate its climate will be beyond the possibility of repair and our planet will be irrevocably doomed.

That’s a pretty effective argument in favor of taking hasty action without thinking it through, because there’s no time. (You may recall a similar argument being used when the economic stimulus package was rammed through Congress.) This is an emergency, so just do what we tell you and don’t think, we are told.

 But in fact, if you *do* stop and think, the argument makes little sense. We are being asked to simultaneously believe that 1) Man is so powerful a force for change that we can easily overwhelm ecological systems that ran for billions of years before we arrived, and 2) Man is not powerful enough a force that we can reverse the effects that we ourselves supposedly have caused.

It is in this context that I offer you the inspiring story of the resurrection of the Aral Sea. For those not well versed in geography, the Aral Sea was at one time the fourth-largest inland sea in the world, located smack in the middle of Central Asia. However, the Soviets diverted the waters that fed the sea for irrigation, creating a man-made desert and destroying the area which used to depend on fishing.

In recent years, however, part of the Sea is coming back and with it the fishing industry, thanks to a dedicated program of environmental reconstruction including water diversion. There is still a long way to go, since not all of the Sea’s neighbors are cooperating. But the instructive point is that the rate at which the damage is being reversed is faster than the rate at which it was caused. In just three years the total fish catch has risen from 52 tons to 2,000 tons!

Al Gore’s crowd will object that the example isn’t valid because the Sea never disappeared completely (only about 90% of it vanished), so it wasn’t necessary to start from scratch. True – but our climate isn’t 90% destroyed, either. They will also complain that the Aral Sea project is much too small to provide relevant lessons for global climate change. But in fact, the AP article explains how both the death of the Sea and its rebirth have had a significant effect on the local climate. And by normal standards, it’s not small – we are talking about an original sea area the size of Ireland and a surrounding climate zone bigger than that.

What I take from this is that even *if* anthropogenic causes are exacerbating global warming to a degree that will ultimately be problematic – and so far the evidence suggests otherwise – even then, the suggestion that we must hurry up and act NOW without calculating the potential impact of our actions is not supported by the actual experience we have with environmental restoration and climate change. You wouldn’t sign a contract without having read it, but they would have our legislators sign environmental legislation without undertsanding what it will do either environmentally or economically.

Ultimately, it’s independent thought, and not runaway global warming, that the hysteria lobby fears most.

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Posted in Foreign Affairs, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »