LETTER: Climate change deniers put us all at risk

Dear editor:

When it comes to climate change, I believe we are asking the wrong question.

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Most “change deniers” claim that climate change, if it’s happening at all, is not being created by human activity. I ask them: What if you’re wrong?

Suppose the worst-case predictions come to pass. Our failure to take action when we were warned would result in irreparable devastation to our planet and future generations.

Now suppose the climate change activists are overreacting and they force an expensive and unnecessary intervention to reduce greenhouse gases. What’s the worst case? As industry and the economy adjust, there will be some temporary negative impacts. But we’ve experienced economic challenges before and always recover. Life as we know it will continue.

Given what’s at stake, I believe we should err on the side of caution rather than continuing our pedal-to-the-metal human exploitation and expansion for short-term economic benefit.

Consider this analogy. Imagine you and 40 family members/friends are travelling on a bus in a mountainous area. You are at the top of a high pass and in front of you is a steep and windy road to the valley below. Suddenly the brake-warning light comes on. The driver stops and everyone is anxious because if the brakes fail, the bus will certainly crash and everyone on board will be killed or injured. However, stopping now would be inconvenient and disrupt some of your vacation plans.

Fortunately, you are at a truck stop with 10 qualified mechanics. All 10 mechanics examine your bus independently. Nine report that the brakes are going to fail. They have differing explanations, but are concerned enough to sign a joint letter declaring that if the bus proceeds, it will certainly crash. The 10th mechanic reaches a different conclusion. He states the brakes are fine and the warning light is faulty. He’s convinced there’s no reason for concern.

Your group decides to vote whether to continue. Will you vote against a 90 per cent consensus from qualified experts knowing that if you’re wrong, most of your group will die or be seriously injured? Or, given what’s at stake, will you err on the side of caution even though it’s inconvenient?

Time will tell who is right in this debate. But continuing our current path and discovering we were mistaken could destroy our planet as we know it. That’s not a possibility I’m willing to ignore. So ask yourself: What is at stake?

Andrew Barber-Starkey
North Vancouver

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