The kind of stark dooms-day claims being made to be caused by global warming certainly gets a person’s attention (e.g. here)
But let’s take a closer look.
1. Stark danger – Changes in climate and severe weather always pose a “danger.” This not something that can be controlled or eliminated. By using such an alarming claim the impression is give that we must act now so that the danger is avoided. This is what might be called a prejudicial conjecture. Certainly, action could be taken now but this in no way ensures that problems in the future will be avoided. Indeed, the so called “benefits” of the USEPA’s recent CO2 emissions rules are so small as to be un-measurable.
2. Immorality – To claim inaction on climate now is some how “immoral” because there may be problems in the future is arbitrary. To pass such a moral judgment requires a uniform moral standard. What absolute moral standard is being used here? Is it moral to allow people to die (or be killed) today due to energy-poverty by taking action that will have no effect on preventing injuries due to future changes in climate? It looks to me that we end up with worst of both worlds….more people die today (due to energy poverty from ineffective and costly regulatory actions) and they die in the future (energy poverty due to money wasted on actions that have no effect on future changes in climate that would happen regardless).
3. Choices – The claim is made that “humanity” has to choose between one scenario (good) and another (bad). First, “humanity” is an abstract concept, a label used to refer to the totality of the humans on the earth. As an abstract concept, “humanity” does not “choose” anything. People choose. And people choose differently. On what basis or authority do the advocates of global warming (e.g. here) believe they alone speak for and decide for all “humanity”? Is this simply government-speak for political expediency? (“We are here from the collective world governments (e.g. IPCC) to help you. Just do what we say.”) Such a claim of having universal knowledge of what all humans on the earth want or should do is nonsense. The global warming advocates can certainly have an opinion but to generalize it as a moral obligation to all humanity is a stretch too far. [In any case, the claim humanity must choose between A (good) and B (bad) is a false choice. There are many other possibilities here, including actions that do not involve ineffective regulations.]
4. Irreversible – global warming advocates claim that any and all long term changes in climate are irreversible. This may or may not be the case. But on what basis is the claim made that anything humans may do now will be able to reverse their alarming scenario? On what basis is the assumption that effects are reversible now, but will not be in the future? How do we know that effects can be reversed now? Doing something is not always better than doing nothing, especially if by doing something the problem is compounded further. Lastly, claims that future warming cannot be reversed assume that our understanding of science will progress no further than today and that there will be no further technological development between now and 50 or 100 years into the future. Is this realistic?