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< Back to question What should we do about climate change? Show more Show less

We are in a climate crisis. People and natural systems around the world are feeling the impacts of a warming globe, from more intense heat waves, more intense storms, heavier rainfall, melting sea ice and retreating glaciers, etc, etc. No part of our world is left untouched, and the current rate of warming suggests things will only get worse. So what can we do to mitigate global warming? What would be most effective? Can we stop and repair the damage to the climate that has been done?

There is nothing that we can do to address climate change Show more Show less

The earth systems are just too big to affect, and any efforts we undertake would be futile.
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The Earth has been around for millions of years - we can't change it

In the grand scheme of the earth's existence, humans have been around for a very short period of time. It is arrogant to think that our existence was so impactful, it changed the nature of the earth's climate forever. The earth has survived countless threats and will continue to do so for a long time, regardless of the human race’s effects on it.
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Proponents


Context

According to most scientific estimates, Earth has existed for about four and a half billion years. Mankind, on the other hand, only came into existence around six million years ago. Some people think that humanity's relatively short stay on earth is too insubstantial to dramatically change the climate.

The Argument

One of humanity's greatest downfalls is its arrogance, especially within the last few centuries. Our concept of global warming clearly displays this hubris, which casts us as the key players in what may simply be a naturally-occurring event. According to mainstream science, human development, especially farming and industrialization has led the earth to warm at a rapid and unnatural rate. However, this claim rests on the assumption that the existence of the human race has enough of an effect on the earth to cause any perceptible changes. After all, any global warming we see today may be caused by natural factors. It is arrogant to assume that our human development is its root cause, especially when comparing the age of the earth to that of the human race. While mankind has only existed for around six million years, the earth has been around for a whopping four and a half billion. During this time, it has undergone massive changes, from the creation of the ozone layer to the Cambrian explosion to the extinction of the dinosaurs. It has even undergone massive climate changes such as ice ages. Throughout all these many changes, the earth, as well as the life it fosters, has remained standing strong. Thus, it is illogical to assume that the development of the human race, which has only existed for a tiny fraction of the earth's lifespan, would be enough to substantially damage it, especially when other major changes on earth occurred for so much longer than our intrusion as a species. If it is arrogant to assume that mankind is significant enough to alter a fundamental part of the earth, then it is also narcissistic to imply that we could consciously change it back through science and policy. Such attempts to regulate a naturally-occurring event are unnecessary and overbearing. After all, the earth has been here long before us, and it will be here long after us because our presence here on earth has not been long-lasting or impactful enough to make any major change.

Counter arguments

Though brief, humanity's existence on earth has damaged it dramatically. We have polluted the atmosphere, cut down forests, over-irrigated for agriculture, released CFCs into the ozone layer, and drastically increased CO2 levels. All of these things contribute to rising global temperatures. The length of our existence on earth has nothing to do with the damage we have succeeded in causing during our stay. While it is true that countless other catastrophes have rocked the earth before, mankind has created unique issues. Though many try to rationalize humanity's existence as just another "natural event" altering the earth, the damage we have caused to the climate is anything but natural. It is misguided to assume that we can do nothing to change the earth's climate when the vast majority of scientific literature claims otherwise.

Premises

[P1] The earth has been around for billions of years. [P2] There have been countless changes and catastrophes during those billions of years, but the earth has survived. [P3] Humanity has only existed for a few million years. [P4] It is illogical to assume that our brief, insignificant existence could have any major impact on the earth's climate.

Rejecting the premises

[P1] The earth is much younger than that, so human life constitutes a far greater portion of its history. [P4] Though short, humanity's stint on earth has had a greatly destructive impact.

References


    This page was last edited on Tuesday, 16 Jun 2020 at 00:29 UTC

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