Is Global Warming a Delicious Nightmare?


Isadora, my newborn niece, is one of the heirs of the world we’re making right now.

The best action against the global warming is doing nothing. The next generations will just thank us for not messing their world up.

Have you ever wondered about how difficult and costly it is to do what we believe is right?

This is specially hard if we are talking about public policies.

Recently, l attended a talk by an IPCC director. He discussed the risks and costs of fighting global warming with a dramatic hypothetical scenario:

India and China are the countries contributing the most for emissions of greenhouse gases. The western countries decide to join forces to impose the Asians a reduction of CO2 emissions. The result is a world war. Question: would it be worth going to war to avoid global warming?

I have been thinking about those things lately. Right now, l confess, it’s more a random trail of thoughts than a real line of reasoning. But l decided to let you, dear reader, babysit my crawling ideas.

One of these ideas is that maybe we should not fight global warming.

The costs — even that not war — are too high. Politically is too complicated. Governments and international organizations waste a lot of time and efforts trying to deal with conflicting interests, to put forward plans whose first results would show up in an over 50 years horizon. Even if the governments managed to carry out the recommendations from climate specialists, there are no guarantees whatsoever that they would work, as they rely on simulations whose prediction power is near those of witchcraft.

This does not mean we do nothing. But instead of betting on measures that will most probably have a recessive impact on the economy of a world already stagnated, we could just let the world grow and use the surplus wealth to mitigate the impacts of the warming when they fatally come. (And they will come, be sure.)

The key idea is that not all changes are negative: in a warmer world, populations of cold regions will pay less for heating; oil and minerals buried under inaccessible frozen regions will be available; Arctic routs will be open reducing transportation costs.

We should stop being so afraid of changes. They will certainly be uncomfortable to us, but who matters the most are the next generations. Whatever we do out of our world, that world will be their home, the only home that they will know.

In the 1960’s, human population went through an unbelievable boom, growing at 2% per year. As a consequence, it doubled in the last 50 years. Policymakers could have avoided that we overcrowded the planet by imposing a Chinese-like hard-core birth control all over the world few decades ago.

The population today would be much smaller by maybe 2 billion people and many of the ecological dramas we live wouldn’t be pressing now. On the other hand, the 6-billion-people market that allowed our parents to cover the costs of the information revolution that gave birth to our world would not have existed.

We would be living today with technologies close to those from the 1970’s. No globalization, no Internet, no smartphones, no virtual social networks, no blogs. The world that’s now our granted home wouldn’t exist because our grandparents were too afraid that we wouldn’t be able to adapt. I’m glad they didn’t mess it up.

This fear of a world in transformation is a big illusion hitting from ecologists dreaming of a life near nature to cyberpunks and their eschatological nightmares; from grammarians complaining about how teens are destroying the language to educators mourning the low-level of their students; from religious fundamentalists firmly holding to a belief that the end is near to myself in my incapacity of appreciating new music.

The way to go is to get rid of utopias and dystopias and to understand that it’s not important how different from now the world is going to be in the future. What characterizes our species is our extreme capacity to adapt to new situations. We homo adaptivus, rather than sapiens, will always be at home wherever we are.

When we finally learn that the nightmare of a generation is the dream of the next, we may stop wasting resources trying to freeze the world, and focus on the only thing that really matters: to grant equal opportunities to every person independently of color, format, size, texture or flavor.


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Categories: Culture, Moral and Ethics, Scientific Culture

Tags: , , , , ,

1 reply

  1. Oi Cesar… Um magnífico artigo acompanhado do inocente sorriso da Isadora. Tudo muito bonito, cultural e gostei muito…

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