Onar Åm


Onar Åm is a renowned speaker and author in Norway and writes extensively on libertarian issues.

“What if you are wrong on climate change?” Chris Wallace of Fox News asked the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt recently in an interview.

Pruitt is a climate skeptic, and a united mainstream media gleefully noted that he stumbled in answering Wallace’s questions. John D. Sutter of CNN challenged Pruitt:

If society does nothing and continues burning fossil fuels, scientists say we can expect worsening super droughts, deadlier heat waves, mass extinction in the natural world and rising seas that, as Taylor put it, will sink half of Florida as well as many coastal cities.

[…]                        

Still don’t buy any of this?

Don’t think it’s a big deal?

Ask yourself: What if you’re wrong?

This is a modern version of Pascal’s Wager.  Around three hundred and fifty years ago, the French mathematician Blaise Pascal (1623-62) told atheists they should believe in God to be on the safe side because if they were wrong about their non-belief, they would suffer an eternity in hell. Try presenting this argument to an atheist, who incidentally also believes in climate change alarmism, and see if he is convinced. Probably not.

In fact, challenge leftists to change their view on any topic they feel strongly about, based on a catastrophic alternative and see how they react. What if they are wrong on open borders? Just to be on the safe side, they should stop all immigration. Will this argument change their views? Don’t put your money on it.

To some Pascal’s Wager is old and silly, and applying it to climate change doesn’t make it any better.

Nevertheless, given that so many people take the question seriously, it is worth answering.

Before we reply to that query, let us first ask what will happen if we take global warming so seriously that the entire industrialized world commits suicide tomorrow to save the planet, and reduces its CO2-emissions by 100%. If we assume IPPC’s worst-case scenario, the world will warm by a meager 0.352°C (0.6336°F) less by 2100 compared to if we do nothing and continue with our current pattern. In short, we would be committing suicide for pretty much nothing.

Back to the essential question: what if the skeptics are wrong and there will be dramatic warming? Then we better be as technologically and industrially developed as humanly possible so that we can be prepared to adapt. It is much easier and cheaper to adapt to climate change than to stop it.

You don’t believe it? Many Dutch are currently living under sea level. No need to panic. They are doing just fine because they built dikes to keep out the ocean.

To be optimally prepared, not only for catastrophic climate change but also for any unforeseen natural disaster such as a major meteor strike, we need as rapid economic and technological growth as possible. Robots, artificial intelligence, super-materials, cheap space travel, you name it. Any improvement in our ability to transform our surroundings will help us better cope with whatever Mother Nature throws at us.

There is evidence that suggests progress is fueled by a combination of cheap energy and freedom. We, therefore, need fossil fuels to get all those fancy technologies that will help us in the future. We also need bureaucrats, politicians and regulators to get out of the way so the best innovators among us can have the peace they need to create progress.

The think tank Copenhagen Consensus Center lead by Bjorn Lomborg has engaged some of the leading experts in the world to make a list of worthy projects to invest in to save and improve lives. Stopping climate change is the worst investment possible. There are much more worthy causes in which to spend money. Indoor air pollution, for instance, kills millions of people every year because of burning wood for cooking. Clean electricity from coal could save all those people easily.

Now it is time to ask the climate change alarmists a question: why are you willing to let millions of real people die and suffer today, so you can maybe save some unidentified number of people in one hundred years?