Saturday, August 29, 2009

Whoops, didn't mean to do that

There is a little irony in life most folks don't consider or simply never realize. It is the 'Law of Unintended Consequences'. It's sort of like Murphy's Law; no matter what bad things happen.

The amazing thing about this law is that it can happen not only on a personal level but can also be counted on to intrude into every one's life on the grandest of scales. If you've ever heard someone utter 'didn't see that one coming', they have just been the victim of unintended consequences. Some are fairly obvious to others and you wonder how in the world did they not understand what would happen? If you've ever watched 'America's Funniest Videos' you know what I mean. Anything that involves a roof and a trampoline, well you get the point. Most of those do seem to come out of the Appalachian highlands.

But on a grander scale and over time not everything can be accounted for. Some problems may take years to develop. I have a friend who worked for a company doing environmental cleanup way back in the eighties. The first job he worked was to cover two near mountains of asbestos outside of a small town. The mountains were built over decades; I'm not sure why. He said the towns folk would actually sled down them as if they were covered in snow. Then, by gosh, all of a sudden it's a hazard and it needs to be cleaned up for the good of the town. Unintended consequences. Initially short term fixes are what generally leads to long term problems. The 'if it feels good do it' mentality is the mantra for unintended consequences.

But not everything can be measured by that philosophy. We are told much of the global weather issues are a direct result of man's influence on the planet. To some extent I may agree we play a part but I am not convinced we are the sole diabolical reason for the planet's upheaval. Since the late 1800's the industrial revolution has poured billions of tons of CO2 and other pollutants into the air. It has taken a century for man to realize what may be happening on such a scale. Again, unintended consequences. But the earth has a remarkable ability to heal itself and with our help I believe we will be able to live in a rather stable environment.

With our current technology we are able only to discern parts of trends on our globe. Are we so sure the world is warming due to our inability to control ourselves when just thirty years ago we discovered the El Nino currents in the Pacific Ocean? (These are currents within the ocean far off the coast of South America that periodically change direction and effect weather all over the globe). It was several years after that we discovered La Nina which is a similar event. We are told the temperatures are rising. Are we really sure the temperature 100 years ago in Iowa was accurately measured?

Our planet has been in a constant flux since it formed. Yes, we have contributed some hazards and it is our responsibility to keep it clean. But the planet will never stop evolving on it's own. It will get hotter, it will get colder, but mostly we're just along for the ride. Perhaps we should just buckle our seat belts.


  1. Check out the column from Jonah Goldgerg, Gee, could the sun be changing the climate? Wow, that's amazing. (Duh)

  2. Nah, the sun is simply too far away to have any effect on Planet Earth.

    Just ask Austin TX.