Let's get back to the main point. At least the point that the author was addressing.
Our planet is most certainly warming. Is it human caused and or is it caused by some so far unidentified 'natural' event that will prove to be temporary? We don't know for sure. Sure at the 100% level.
But we've got an awful lot of data that suggests that it's us and the vast, vast majority of people who study these sorts of things think that it's likely us.
Let's get back to the IPCC report. There's a strong degree of certainty that most
of the warming is attributable to us. If we assume that is correct, it follows that global warming will continue whatever we do. The only influence we could have is in slowing down
the rate of warming.
Even if we imagine the impossible, that we could completely cease all further emissions of greenhouse gasses, our contribution to those gasses already in the atmosphere, which are causing most
of the warming, is still going to hang around for a long time.
Now, some of us are selfish enough that we won't give a damn. We'll continue to drive our monster SUVs, buy huge side by side refrigerators and do all the other things that increase CO2.
In Australia, the drivers of these SUVs and other huge, gas-guzzling Totota 4x4s, are often small ladies taking their kids to school. They drive them because they feel safer in the event of an accident. The vehicles are high off the ground, built like a tank and have a huge front bumper bar to sweep away kangaroos that might get in the way.
However, let's suppose that you could persuade this insecure lady to pack her brood into a 1.5 litre Hyundai Getz bubble car, for the sake of the environment. She would then free up some wealth. She'd have more money to spend elsewhere.
How can we (or she) be sure that the freed up funds are not spent in a manner equally injurious (and perhaps even more injurious) to the environment. Perhaps she decides to build an extension to the house to accommodate an expected increase in family size. Perhaps the excavators that dig the clay to make the bricks are even greater polluters than the SUV. Perhaps the furnace that fires the clay to make the bricks is also a greater polluter than the SUV. Perhaps the builder who travels a hour each day for 3 months and carries his gear in a small truck also causes more harm to the environment than the SUV.
So this lady, who feels she has made a great sacrifice for the sake of the environment can now hold her head up high? Perhaps we are deluding ourselves.
But does it make sense to take the stance that "I'm not doing anything unless everyone else does it too?"
It may not be a recommended stance if we want to seriously tackle the global warming problem, but it certainly makes sense. No individual and no government wants to put itself at an economic disadvantage in relation to its neighbours by increasing the cost of its own energy, a cost which is fundamental to economic prosperity.
Governments can steer people in a particular direction with a range of inducements and penalties; tax breaks and subsidies for clean energy resources; implementation of carbon credit schemes etc, and that is already being done.
Is it enough? Probably not. Can we do more without taking the economy into a recession? Who knows!