Yes, global warming has been high jacked by politicians and commercialized by big business. This is surprisingly not a total disaster because as a society we have at least moved beyond just ignoring the environment all together. I am far more worried about the way sustainable design and development have been sort of cannibalized by the global warming debate. In the last two years these have been slowly sandwiched together by the mainstream media as one concept under the global warming brand.
The problem is that even as an ardent promoter of sustainable design, I now find myself inconveniently confused by the global warming debate. Does our industrial carbon dioxide output actually enhance the greenhouse effect enough to be the major cause of climate change or are there way too many unknowns to be able to get to that conclusion in a rational way? Is the earth really running a fever or just adjusting to different variables that we are clumsily just starting to understand as we begin to direct our attention to them. At the core of the issue looms the growing disagreement on what the actual relationship between carbon dioxide and temperature really is. The more I become informed and gain perspective on the issue, the more uncomfortable and difficult it becomes to blindly embrace. There is more than enough ambiguity and disagreement between the so called experts to raise a flag of concern in my book and question if we “bright greens” have become too dependant on the proceedings and eventual outcome of the whole global warming phenomenon.
Not to compare their importance or impact but just seven years ago the hot issue was the Y2K bug. If we weren’t able to accurately predict the effects and our capacity to sort of manage a system that we created, how can we be expected to fully understand and predict the functions of a system we are just starting to discover? Historically Y2K and global warming may one day be seen in similar light in the sense that they were both massive world wide media frenzies that turned out to be based more on sensationalized out of context information than on technical understandings of the underlying problem. They both may one day be viewed as key triggers in stimulating their respective industries. The funding that was poured into the Y2K bug issue accelerated innovation in computer networks and information storage, and in response to the big global warming debate the market is equally pouring investment in more sustainable industries.
As designers, our focus should be on the road ahead and not on the speed bump coming up because like a speed bump, “global warming”