There are two sides in this argument and only two sides:
Side One: Climate Change caused by mankind is an absolute scientific truth that cannot be denied and to do so is equivalent to saying the world is flat. The only way to stop this is to immediately stop all fossil fuel use meaning all modern convinces must end immediately, we must return to a 1700’s pre-industrial revolution lifestyle. Anything less than that, or to even question our methods, data, or certainty is to wish to destroy all life on Earth.
Side Two: There is no such thing as global warming and never has been, any changes in the temperature are natural, all the data for global warming is falsified, and we don’t need to do anything for the environment. Alternative fuels are inefficient and always will be and any research into them is evil and wishing the downfall of human society.
Only those two. You can only pick from those two.
The other day I got into an argument about this and I was given a totally preposterous position…and I will share this delusional position with you, so you can clearly laugh at its naiveté:
Climate Change is something as complex as the millions of molecules in the atmosphere. Due to the interplay between the Earth’s crust, atmosphere and waxing and wanning levels of radiation released by the sun the climate on the planet has been in a constant state of flux. Since the end of the Little Ice Agethe world has been getting warmer. As we have noticed temperature changes in the atmospheres on Mars over the last few decades at least part of this change is clearly due to cycles within solar radiation. But as the explosion of Krakatoa in 1883 proves, if you throw enough particulate matter into the atmosphere it will affect the entire planet’s climate, but this event also shows that the effect is not permanent by any means, and as with all systems the world’s environment, climate, and ecology seeks equilibrium and recovers from outside changes if allowed to. Thus, it becomes reasonable that between these two facts the current apparent rise in temperature over the last century is probably only 20%-50% the cause human industrial actions. More specific numbers cannot be made as THERE IS NO WAY TO SCIENTIFICALLY TEST A SYSTEM AS LARGE AS THE WORLD—there is no way to run a falsifiable test to demonstrate the extent of CO2 on the atmosphere thus it is only a very weak theory supported by correlation equals causation, which is hardly a scientific fact. Scientists have tried to make legitimate measurements of the rate of global temperature and its effects, some are honest in their studies, and because they are human some are not honest. As more money is being offered to prove global warming exists, it is likely there is more data influenced by this desire for funds on the side for the greater amount of anthropogenic cause of climate change—this is not an indictment of science, this is merely a common sense understanding of human nature. This has resulted in the implications of some studies to be ignored and others to blow out of proportion; however, any reasonable person realizes that this is an idea so complex that the science will never be fully settled. But it does not matter if we take the high effect of human interaction or the low level as the practical solutions are often the same. Suggestions of cutting carbon rates through regulation or cap and trade are going to have little effect as they will only work if all nations on Earth follow them, and as developing nations seldom will follow these rules, and they are the largest producers of carbon, such moves will only have serious effects in fantasy situations.
Rather, moves in the largest nations should be to create policies that seek alternatives to fossil fuels.
We in the developed world need to change tax and regulatory policy to encourage research especially in issues of energy efficiency (cheaper more effective insulation, better batteries, etc.) along with alternative energy. Resent advances in solar cell technology for instance offer hope that very soon solar cells will finally be more efficient and cost effective than fossil fuels. Multinational-Private-Public-partnerships should be set up to offer large upfront and tax-free cash rewards for the first person, corporation, or institute to come up with major jumps in these fields on the provision that the patent will be turned over to public domain which will spur both individual and corporate R&D but only pay for the final product to ensure that once these inventions are discovered they can be quickly distributed across the globe. Given that solar power is becoming more efficient than fossil fuels, and fusion reaction technology is hopefully about a decade away, research in this area is likely to, at this point, yield valuable results. Further, those who actually care about the environment need to be rational and admit that nuclear power is currently the cheapest and cleanest form of electricity production and push for the construction of more nuclear power stations where it is safe to do so (on fault heavy areas or places where the nuclear material cannot be properly secured are not those places) to provide alternative sources of energy from fossil fuels.
Conversely individuals should look to limit their use of the products that require the burning of fossil fuels or other limited resources, not because they should feel guilty or afraid but because it is good economic sense. Proper insolation for buildings, lower levels of energy use, and effective uses of transportation options should all be engaged in not because you should feel fear of an environmental apocalypse or guilt but because these are basic long-term cost cutting measure that will in the long run improve your quality of life by trading wasteful frivolities for economic security. Further individuals should push local and state governments to raise the requirements for new construction to include better insulation, solar panels (in geographic areas where it makes sense—not Seattle, it makes no sense to be obsessed with putting solar panels everywhere in a city that never sees the sun), and other energy cost saving measures as the cost of putting these in during construction is vastly lower than having to put them onto houses individually which will thus save property owners large amounts of money for only slight increases in initial purchasing costs. This in turn through the economies of scale would drive down the prices of such products for those wishing to add them to older construction. Again, these should be done because they are reasonable, conservative, and long-term solutions.
For issues like Carbon taxes or other ways to tax such public goods which are very susceptible to the tragedy of the commons, one must realize it was capitalist Milton Friedman who first suggested the carbon-tax but for it to be effective in controlling pollution without destroying the economy its institution must be matched by getting rid of the bulk of regulations that already exist. Effective legislation/regulation can look to control the means of how things are done (regulation of major carbon producers) or they can look at the end results and let the market find the best way to meet those ends (carbon taxes)—but you cannot expect to control both the ends and the means and think that the market can continue to exist in any meaningful sense. Ends or means, pick one. One side tries to control both, the other side neither. Neither extreme will lead to prevention of the tragedy of the commons.
Both extremes in this argument, as with so many arguments in modern discourse, are irrational and devoid of facts, reason, and common sense. There is a way to provide cleaner energy at lower costs that will cause less detriment to the environment while at the same time not harm the quality of life of modern civilization, end the progress of the developing world, or stop the progress of society.
Obviously, the person who suggested this is insane, as there are only two options we can choose from.