I had a recent exchange on Facebook with a friend of mine on my favorite topic of global warming, er I mean climate change. While she lost me with non-sequiturial* stories about daycare for kids, she attempted an analogy that brought an even better analogy into focus for me. More on that later.
Since the global warming alarmists don’t have much science on their side**, most debates with them end after a few rounds with a plea that “hey, there’s no harm in doing something, but if we do nothing and you’re wrong, we’re all screwed.” This is terribly flawed reasoning because, of course, there are very serious ramifications to taking unwarranted action against a demon that may or may not actually exist. Indeed, all of the policy changes liberal alarmists want would lead to considerable economic hardship, in the form of much higher energy bills, for the poor and middle class in this country. Meanwhile, over in China, they would continue to be the world’s biggest polluter while growing their economy at 5-10% p.a. Other economic policies from the left have demonstrated a clear lack of compassion for the poor, as the income gap under Obama has grown to record levels, but panicky action on global warming would hit the working poor right between the eyes. As I’ve written before, I can easily afford a doubling of my energy bill. The poor and middle class cannot. I’m simply not willing to further crush the poor and middle class without better evidence of benefit.
That brings me to her analogy. She wrote, “When a house catches fire, firemen put it out before determining what caused it.” In her sexist way (I would say “firefighters,” not “firemen”), this is a catchy way of saying, “there’s no harm in putting out the fire.” But, this analogy is completely off point. As discussed, there is considerable harm in “putting out the fire.”
And that brings me to my even better analogy. Suppose there’s an oven fire in the kitchen and there’s a good chance the residents can just close the oven door and walk safely out the back door as the fire dies out on its own. But, the fire department arrives and decides to douse the entire house with water, drowning the residents in the process, because they think there’s some chance that the fire might spread to the uninhabited house next door. I think they’d cautiously check first to see if maybe the residents got safely out and if the fire is really still burning.
*There does not seem to be an adjectival form of non-sequitur, but there should be so I made it up. My friend is a writer, so I’m sure I’ll hear about this one!
**All the have is mathematical models. These same models have failed to predict anything accurately.