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Monday, August 23, 2010

Blaise Pascal and the Case for Climate Change

In recent news, no less a person than Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin mused about whether humankind was to blame for climate change. When world leaders are not convinced, it makes others doubt as well.

There has indeed been a division among scientists about the causes and possible effects of global warming. Although the balance seems to be leaning toward those who do believe that humankind's footprint on the planet is entirely too large, many remain unconvinced.

This may be a good time to remind everyone of Pascal's Wager.
From Wikipedia: "Pascal's Wager (or Pascal's Gambit) is a suggestion posed by the French philosopher, mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal that, even though the existence of God cannot be determined through reason, a person should wager as though God exists, because living life accordingly has everything to gain, and nothing to lose. The possibilities defined by Pascal's Wager can be thought of as a decision under uncertainty..."
The intent is to offer a position that can be held without the normal proofs afforded by reason. While there are many "proofs" for and against climate change as a result of human activity, there is no definitive view. Even the experts disagree.

Therefore, the question of human activity as a cause of global warming is a classic Pascal's Wager situation.

Instead of contemplating belief in God, let's contemplate the consequences of belief in Humankind-as-cause of global warming:
  • If it is, and we do not stop our destructive behaviour, we are in for serious trouble.
  • If it is and we DO stop, we may be able to slow, halt, or even reverse the catastrophe.
  • If it isn't, and we do not stop our destructive behaviour, we will undoubtedly experience other consequences of that recklessness.
  • If it isn't, and we DO stop, we aren't hurting anything, and in fact are minimizing our impact on the environment, which is in keeping with a more natural way of life, so that has to be good.
Ergo, whether or NOT humankind is the cause of global warming, it makes great good sense to stop the activities that are harmful to climate, wildlife, and the environment. Period.

Of course, those of us with logical minds can see that. The befuddled will continue to argue what doesn't need to be argued.

And if all we look at is the converse -- we just keep trashing the planet no matter what the effects -- one would have to be an imbecile to think that was a good thing to do.

Proving that humankind is the cause of climate change is irrelevant and unnecessary. So scientists, you can stop arguing now. In fact, everyone can stop arguing.

Let's all just be kinder to our planet, whether we're responsible for these warming changes or not. It's the smart thing to do.


At 12:55 PM, September 09, 2010, Blogger James said...

I totally agree with you! I tried convincing my American friends it doesn't matter what we argue, we should take good care of what we have, including the environment. Although they went rambling on about myths...Anyways great analogy.
Cheers from your ex-student pwr381 2007!
TJ Phan

At 11:26 PM, November 10, 2010, Blogger ds4as55 said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................


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