Even assuming global warming is happening is it really such an urgent problem?
Yes, it is urgent, action needs to be taken today if we are to avoid the unpleasant future consequences of global warming.
This argument is tempting but very wrong. Just because climate change is happening almost imperceptibly on a time scale that is much longer than the lifetime of elected governments it doesn’t mean that it can be ignored by ‘burying our heads in the sand’. We all know that if a large asteroid should appear to be on a collision course with the Earth it would require much less effort to deflect it from its path at an early stage than if we should wait until the last moment. Global warming is similar except that the ‘collision’ is going to happen whether we like it or not. Humanity’s choice today is how, and by how much, to mitigate the impact of that ‘collision’.
Manmade emissions of carbon dioxide are rising inexorably and have been accelerating. The root cause is a rising global population and our ‘addiction’ to fossil fuels and their use to fuel consumer economies and raise and maintain standards of living. To stabilise the Earth’s climate at a level which gives us a chance of avoiding disastrous runaway climate change requires a limit to be placed on the absolute cumulative amounts of greenhouse gas to be emitted in the coming century; in effect a fixed budget. We can either begin to cut back now or be faced with the daunting task of much higher, and possibly unachievable, cuts later.
The Stern Review (2006) stated ‘The benefits of strong, early action on climate change outweigh the costs’. Global warming needs to be tackled urgently and if we start now it may be feasible to keep it in check.