“With the evolution of megacities, we now seem to feel that we are powerful enough to change the environment at our whim.”
Dr. Fred Michel in the National Post
The problem of climate change is not one of changing the environment “at our whim;” the problem is that we have been changing it inadvertently. Which means the question is not whether we are powerful enough to affect the environment around us (by, say, dropping a lit cigarette into a dry forest or by increasing the ratio of CO2 in the atmosphere to a level 30 per cent above anything that has been seen on earth for 650,000 years). The question is whether we are smart enough to stop.
Dr. Fred Michel, part of a small group of Ottawa scientists (also including Tim Patterson and Ian Clark) acting on behalf of the energy-industry front group the Natural Resources Stewardship Project, argues in this piece in the National Post that climate change is inevitable and unrelated to human activities on the planet. He says “climate is constantly changing and will continue to change no matter what we do.” And he advocates, therefore, that we do nothing.
At least, he would prefer that we attend to “air, water and land pollution, the loss in biodiversity, and urban sprawl.” Of course, reducing our consumption of fossil fuels would have an immediate beneficial effect on all kinds of pollution. And containing urban sprawl is one of the most effective ways to reduce extravagant energy use, as well as being helpful in preserving biodiversity in the regions overwhelmed by indiscriminate suburban development.
It leaves you wondering: when even ExxonMobil acknowledges the truth of anthropegenic climate change, what precisely is Dr. Michel's objection to sensible (and cost-effective) environmental consciousness?