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Designed natural cycles…

February 15, 2007

One of the favorite arguments used by one type of global warming denialist goes something like this:

The Earth has experienced natural and significant climatic swings in the past; therefore the current climatic swing we are experiencing is likely natural (not human-made); therefore we don’t need to take any action.

In this view, they accept the results of paleoclimate studies (the source of knowledge of the natural cycles). This argument is typically trotted out by those who are motivated solely by a economic/political paradigm. That is, they predict that the regulation of emissions will result in global economic recession at best or a complete and total economic catastrophe (i.e., the collapse of modern civilization) at worst.

I’ve always been bothered by the mixing of discussions about scientific conclusions (i.e., the data and conclusions regarding attribution) with discussions regarding policy (i.e., what or what not to do about it). The policy debate is the true and timely discussion to be having at this point. There are legitimate concerns about how to go about mitigating problems that have global reach (and whether or not what we do will even have an impact anyway with all the feedbacks in the system). But, those who have those concerns should discuss them within the context of policymaking. Instead…they bring out the lame since-it-was-natural-in-the-past-it-must-be-natural-now routine. Why not talk about what you really want to talk about?

Anyway…so, then I was thinking about where the intelligent design crowd would fit in here. They can’t possibly believe the flucuations that have been interpreted from paleoclimate proxies (e.g., the last 600,000 years) are an ‘accident’ (i.e., not by design). Do they think the current climatic changes are designed? Does climate even fall into that paradigm? Where is the “boundary” between what gets designed and what is left to evolve naturally?

I’m not sure what my point is.
I haven’t really used this blog as a record of my stream-of-consciousness thoughts….this is probably one of the first ones.

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