My mother is retired. She surfs the net daily for things to read. Before the advent of the internet she would read from the “dead tree media”. Her favourite magazines were Time and Fortune. While these two magazines had some worthwhile things to say they were somewhat biased and popular in their opinion. And being young and stupid back then (instead of now being old and stupid) I read them and was persuaded by their arguments. We all have a time or an age when we do not question.
Recently she sent me this article. In it the author had wanted to point out that there are other arguments for the cause of global warming. One of these arguments is that the sun’s natural fluctuation is the main cause of our present situation. She had wanted me to read this and be convinced by its argument. But as a son who knows his parents all too well I understood her agenda.
Sure, the IPCC has made some pretty “solid” claims, and that the article I have mentioned here points out its decision making and presentation of the report have been somewhat unorthodox. The article continues by presenting a number of scientists whose views differ from the mainstream sustainability critics.
It has a point, but I do not completely agree.
I have no doubt that the sun’s natural fluctuation can be a cause of global warming. But in all probability it may not be the only cause. This argument again works exactly the same way as in the opponent’s argument. To say that our own actions are the only cause to global warming may be as shortsighted as saying the sun is the only cause. So, to me, both camps are in the wrong.
I can understand why the “blame human activity” camp feel they need to make it so black and white – to make the problem seem more urgent. But also the “it could be the sun” camp may want to highlight that its cause may be elsewhere.
Coming back to my mother’s agenda I mentioned earlier, I have to say that she has never been very green. She brought me up to be also not very green. But as I began to live my own life I realized just what and how exactly the non-green crowd works. In taking up this article my mother had wanted me to believe that it really all the sun’s fault, that the IPCC are lying, hiding an agenda of their own. But need it be this black and white?
Sure the IPCC may have failed in taking into account of the sun, and that they may have deceived us in believing it is all us. But equally people who think they can (mis)quote the article to absolve themselves of responsibility are wrong. That is not to say my mother was irresponsible. She and most of her generation had been persuaded to believe that they were doing right by progress. They use the argument to convince themselves their actions had nothing to do the problem, by becoming sceptical optimists or do-nothing optimists.
Personally, I think the article is a good reminder of the types of hidden agendas each group puts forward to “defend the utter fragility of [their] delicately constituted fiction” as Earnest Becker put it. And because we live in an age of information overload learning to filter and make sense of it all is not quite so easy. And that sometimes living away from loved ones and seeing them or talking to them again after a break may help us see the real picture which may be not be black and white at all but colourful and confusing.