Importance of Natural Resources

The One Video to Watch on Climate, If You Have Just 3 Minutes

Let’s talk about you for a minute. When you’re
faced with a risky decision, how do you decide what to do? Nothing is certain, so often we
weigh the potential payoff vs the potential downside. We ask “Is it worth the risk?”
And that generally works well. But what if you know that the potential risk is big? Only you’re unsure whether it’s going to happen or not. Take human-caused climate change, for example.
The skeptics say it isn’t proven, so we shouldn’t risk potential economic harm by
taking action. But the activists say if we don’t do something about it quick, we risk
global catastrophe. How do you weigh the two claims of potential harm when we don’t know
either for certain? That’s where the precautionary principle
can help. It takes seriously that nothing is worth risking everything for. If losing
means catastrophe, it just isn’t worth the risk, whatever the odds. Imagine you stand to win millions and all
you have to do is take a shot at Russian roulette. Five out of
six times you’re safe! But here’s the hitch: It doesn’t really matter how good
your odds at winning are when the cost of losing is catastrophic. So would that mean the precautionary principle dictates no more driving? Or using electricity as we would need to take any action necessary to prevent a possible climate catastrophe caused by the burning of oil and coal. In fact, wouldn’t that reasoning argue for taking action against any potential
threat? No matter how costly the action, or how ridiculous the threat–like Giant Mutant
Space Hamsters? Because it’s better to go broke building a fleet of orbiting rodent
traps than to even risk the possibility of becoming Hamster Chow, right? So the precautionary
principle seems useless. Actually, no. Because the principle only applies
when there is plausible danger. And while there may be disagreement on the likelihood
of catastrophic climate change, at this point it is undeniably plausible, as evidenced by
the official statements to that effect from every major scientific institution on the
planet. So at that point, the burden of proof shifts:
rather than the activists needing to prove that climate change is real and dangerous,
the skeptics are obliged to prove that it’s not. In the meantime, it’s only prudent to take
bold action to reduce emissions, in order to avoid potential catastrophe. If you disagree with this reasoning, please
give your arguments in the comments. Because together we reach a better understanding.
But if you agree, forward this video, promote it on social media, send it to your policy
makers, do everything you can to inject this reasoning into the public consciousness. Because catastrophe just isn’t worth the

Reader Comments

  1. I AM a skeptik but this was a Very good argument in deed. I believe climate change has been used for political motivations with emotional appeal, specially by left wing organizations. And we have to beware the economic impact for climate change regulations, which can be catastrophic for poor countries.

  2. Appeal to Consensus fallacy. (Conveniently ignoring the economic motivations of the authors of said reports, natch.)
    Argument dismissed.

  3. So what if you apply the precautionary principal on itself? Doing something to prevent a perceived risk also has risks. So one can't use the principal if you apply it to itself.

    In this case – banning the 3rd world from using carbon resources will kill a lot of people – mas genocide. (People here have no problem flying off to resort areas leaving huge CO2 trails so they can pretend that they are holy). The real problem is actually overpopulation – and those that really want to do something that matters should see: – don't wait – times running out..

    Anyway – The premise is a false narrative – the risk is not huge – warming is not much over what it has been for the last 300 years. There have been periods in the past where sudden cooling and warming of 10deg C have taken place – not all species died..

  4. An extinction-level asteroid impact is not just plausible, but it has happened many times and is thus a calculable risk. What limit does the "precautionary principle" place on efforts to prevent this? None.

    The effect of ending fossil fuel use is also calculable. We can calculate the probability that human misery will only deepen as human progress is throttled, and we return to pre-industrial subsistence agriculture. Keep in mind that solar panels and wind turbines were invented in the 19th century but were only a curiosity since they were economically infeasible even then. Without cheap energy and petrochemicals from fossil fuels, the prospect of building massive quantities of them now would be ludicrous, as it was then.

    Population biologists predict that our numbers will likely not exceed 10 billion, but only if the current rate of development is allowed to continue. This will spread the prosperity that has proven to be the most reliable form of birth control. If we instead return to pre-industrial squalor, only famine, disease, and human misery will limit population growth, just as Malthus predicted. The human species will likely survive, but we will have squandered the golden opportunity to use, and thus advance beyond, fossil fuels. Our technology sits atop an infrastructure pyramid whose foundation is the cheap energy and the fertilizers and petrochemicals that fossil fuels make possible. Strip that away and civilization crumbles.

    The foolish mistake Malthus made in the 18th century with his predictions of doom, was that he assumed all invention and innovation was done, and that technology would be forever static. Ehrlich made the same mistake in the 1970s with The Population Bomb.

    We have only been making significant use of fossil fuels for about a century, so we have no justification in assuming that we will still rely on them a century from now. We can't know what technologies will dominate then, any more than scientists in 1900 could have anticipated semiconductors, superconductors, computers, air travel, automobiles, smartphones, nanotechnology, GMOs, etc. It's a mistake of Malthusian proportions to think we now know enough to forecast that a future advanced technological society, which we can't even imagine, is doomed unless we stop using fossil fuels now.

  5. What about this? You forgot to mention the people who will die because of the precautionary principle.

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