Daniel Botkin, president of the Center for the Study of the Environment and professor emeritus in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology at the University of California, Santa Barbara writes about global warming on today’s Wall Street Journal editorial page.
You can sum up his position with the first paragraph of his editorial.
Global warming doesn’t matter except to the extent that it will affect life — ours and that of all living things on Earth. And contrary to the latest news, the evidence that global warming will have serious effects on life is thin. Most evidence suggests the contrary.
I think that Botkin makes an important point when he says that we can be so focused on global warming that we are ignoring other critically important environmental issues.
My concern is that we may be moving away from an irrational lack of concern about climate change to an equally irrational panic about it.
Many of my colleagues ask, “What’s the problem? Hasn’t it been a good thing to raise public concern?” The problem is that in this panic we are going to spend our money unwisely, we will take actions that are counterproductive, and we will fail to do many of those things that will benefit the environment and ourselves.
For example, right now the clearest threat to many species is habitat destruction. Take the orangutans, for instance, one of those charismatic species that people are often fascinated by and concerned about. They are endangered because of deforestation. In our fear of global warming, it would be sad if we fail to find funds to purchase those forests before they are destroyed, and thus let this species go extinct.