The precautionary principle

Source: BBC News

The amount of media coverage on global warming in recent years hasn’t really extended beyond more than a trickle, but in the aftermath of the New Orleans disaster, the possibility that climate change could have an impact on national economies (even that of the most powerful nation of earth!) seems to have permeated the mainstream consciousness. A week or so ago, BBC World News even went as far as to lead with a story on global warming, and the dranatic impact it is having on the Arctic ice cap. The sceptics continue to spout their usual drivel that there is no conclusive evidence that the ice melting can be linked to global warming, and that it is all part of some natural cycle. Yes, it is true that 800,000 years ago there was no ice in the Arctic, and it is conceivable, therefore, that this may be the case again in the future. However, this is hardly sufficient reason to continue churning tonnes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere willy-nilly. The fact is, there is no conclusive evidence that the melting ice caps are part of a natural cycle either. If in doubt, isn’t it better to play safe? Application of the precautionary principle has to be the optimal solution because of the danger of irreversibility. There will be no gloating on the part of the environmental movement if they turn out to be right because, by then, there may be nothing any of us can do about it.