Common Sense: Where Have You Gone?

The world today is driven by empirical data, scientific findings, and quantifiable results that are supposed to lead us to a greater understanding of the world around us and point us in a direction that will greatly benefit us.  However, somewhere along the way, scientific findings trumped pragmatic thinking and common sense ideology that ran the world for centuries.  Why are we predisposed to disregard common sense logic?  Can things truly be scientific in their global implementation, especially on issues that have subjective sectors to the issues?  And lastly, why is it that we have this “your way or the highway” mentality when it comes to certain issues?  Can we not find some form of moderation or middle ground where both sides can be used to the greater advancement of mankind?  These are questions that are present in the minds of true policy researchers and analysts in their goal and determination to find an effective solution to global warming.

Global warming is a hot topic amongst both the scientific community and the political spectrum.  Like anything that garners political support or fervor, a logical person must gain as much knowledge about the issue to better understand the actions that should be taken and the consequences to those actions.  In the world of global warming, you have two very outspoken camps.  The first proclaims that man is causing a global temperature increase that will cause substantial and irrevocable damage to the earth and will end up causing millions of death and the possible destruction of the planet as we know it now.  The second proclaims the exact opposite.  This side states that man is not responsible for the increase in global temperature and that the warming, if any, is caused by nature herself, cosmic events, or is cyclical and should be taken in a context that is more historical than caused by man.  I posit a question that what if this is a cyclical event that does happen?  What if we are in a place where the earth is closer to the sun, or natural events have caused an increase in carbon emissions above what has previously been recorded, but man kind is not helping the situation because of our industrialization of the planet with the current economic conditions?  The object should not be whether or not one side is the true destroyer of the planet but how we can be better stewards of the planet that we live on and the only home we know.  If you believe in the Bible, then you believe God gave us this planet to be stewards of her and to take care of the plants, animals, and in totality the life that exists here.  If you do not believe the Bible, then common sense, moral choice, or logic should drive you to the conclusion that destroying where you live does not benefit anyone.  Now we take into consideration the current atmosphere of the climate debate and let us see where we are tending to get a better understanding of why people react the way they do and the possible implications of what this means for us, our children, and our children’s children.

We are given to fear antics to help garner support for causes no matter what they are or how unpopular they can be.  Former Vice-President Al Gore has spent the better part of his time since losing the election in 2000 to campaign on global climate change policies.  He has even won a Nobel Prize for his work in the field, but what most people seem willing and able to over look is that he is not a scientist nor has he ever been one or worked in the field.  He is a career politician with high political ambitions and a need for a niche in the world’s eye.  His movie “An Inconvenient Truth” was supposed to enlighten the world to the harm that mankind is doing to the environment with science backing, but the scientific backing seemed a little sparse for such a scientific movie.  As a public service announcement, it did its jobs to start the conversation but as a scientific piece that introduced real findings it seemed to lack in the essential elements.  People have since then come out in opposition to the findings and even Czech President  Vaclav Klaus openly requested to debate Al Gore on the issues to which Al Gore has not responded and is unwilling or unable to meet President Klaus’s request.  Reports of scientists being “discouraged” from speaking out against global climate change policy is starting to increase because of funding issues, loss of face in the scientific community, and the overall end to their career as a reputable scientist.  What does this sound or should this sound like to the average person?  It sounds like freedom of speech, expression of ideas, and an open scientific community is being destroyed by a political machine destined to “win the day” for its cause.  So the debate continues and we are lead to the next place in the global warming discussion/debate.

The environmentalist, scientists, and many politicians are fighting to introduce people to a problem that “will irrevocably change the landscape of the planet and destroy future generations.”  Britain is a leading supporter of global climate change policy and their most recent idea is a “carbon ration card” that each individual would carry with them so that they can make purchases.  These purchases include:  gasoline, air travel, electricity, and other oil products.  This card gives each individual a pre-determined amount of carbon credits that they use to make these purchases and when and if they run out they would have to buy more credits from other card holders who do not use all of their credits.  Let us break this down because this idea is not an old idea but something that has been reinvented for individual purposes.  The Kyoto Protocols have a similar formula for nations.  Nations are given carbon limits that they must meet.  If they go over their carbon limit, they have to “purchase” more carbon sinks from other countries that do not use all of their carbon credits.  Now understand that these carbon credits are only for the developed or industrialized nations of the world.  The countries considered developing or undeveloped are included in this group and are not subject to the same set of restrictions.  So using both examples this means that an economy must be able to meet these new restrictions and if it cannot then it must being willing and able to pay to operate in the new economic setting.  If it is unwilling or unable to play ball in this new setting then it is essentially forces out of the economic market and lost forever to the market place graveyard.  So my question is, “how is this economically beneficial to a country, society, or economy and it’s ability to provide the best living conditions it can for the people who live and work is this economy?”  Saving the environment is an admirable goal and one we should all have but doing it at the expense of the economy and the people that live in this environment is not only detrimental to them but illogical to the future of the people and the nation in question.  What it seems is that as noble as climate change policy is, politicians have found a way to create a new power base for themselves, their political party, and the people that surround them.  Power, above all things, is the one thing that government, people in government, and the people who influence government can never have quenched.  The next thing that comes with this power is the pocket book or the purse.  Government has a new tax base that they can pull from to use to invest in programs that are inefficient and in the end create more bureaucracy than is essential for the daily living of the normal citizen.

Another example is, that in the US, the current climate change legislation looks to be dead in the water because of a split in the support the legislation in the US Senate.  Companies, who are economic animals at their core, do not see the advantages to the legislation because in a time when economic reform is needed most politicians are promoting huge tax increases masking them in the cover of “saving the world” and “ending global climate change.”  People everywhere need to take a good look at what scientists, politicians, and policy experts are saying on the issue.  They need to understand that current legislation in most major developed nations is set to increase taxes in a significant manner in an attempt to solve global warming, but are these measures actually doing what they forecast?  Does the current set of legislation actually solve, or set out to solve global warming or is it just a band-aid that will only hurt the pocket book of the individual?  And the question that is never asked is, “if people understand that this is a tax, why are they so complacent to not fight this?”  As an American, the idea of increased taxes for an idea of ideology that is not essential to the benefit of my society or nation is something that should be challenged.  Which is why I do not understand people like in Britain that do not fight against global warming legislation like carbon ration cards and carbon caps on the industry in an economy.

In the debate of global warming, whether global warming is or is not happening is not the issue.  The real issue is the cause for global warming and the most expedient measures to solve the global warming issues.  At this point the only loud voices in this debate are those at the poles of the issue.  At one end you are either enlightened because you want to save the planet and believe that we should do whatever it takes to save it and in a radical manner because we are in imminent danger.  On the other end of the issue are those that do not see global warming as a threat to their life, the future of the people, or the future of the planet.  They believe that any attempts to curb “global warming” in the manner that is currently on the books will have such a detrimental effect that we will destroy the global economy and be forced to head towards a more agrarian form of lifestyle where we live off the land and only consume what is necessary for living.  Where is the middle ground?  Where are the people of “common sense” that proclaim moderation in life and how we live?  Why do these people sit quietly and watch the issue deteriorate to the point that they have to step in and solve the problem when we could be on that path already?

This world has been around a long time and she has seen a lot of things happen.  We are but a breath in comparison to what the world has been through yet we think we are so important.  Moderation in everything in consideration of how we live in this world is essential to maintaining the balance of the world and the world we want to live in.  Technology will and has garnered us great things and it will continue to from now until we cease to be.  Alternatives to the current lifestyle that we live are already being explored from hydrogen powered cars to solar powered plants that are efficient enough to work for the community as a whole.  Fears of certain power sources have seen declines in areas that we should explore and do not.  Also common sense should be used to understand that in the current world of transition that we should take care of the present while planning for the future.  Drill for the oil that we need to maintain our economic conditions but plan for a future where oil and other fossil fuels are a thing of the past.  Energy firms know that the time for new sources of energy is approaching and they are investing in these new forms.  Companies want to survive and thus will strive to move in the direction that change is approaching and in this case away from fossil fuels and towards a more “fuel efficient” society.

In conclusion, common sense has not been lost, it just does not have a loud enough voice.  Someone needs to buy it a bull horn so it can be heard because it is with this type of logic that we can change the past, to live in the present, and plan for that future that is only in our dreams and we long to live in.

By:  Jonathan Hessling

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