Applying Pascal’s Wager to Global Warming
We recently watched “An Inconvenient Truth” and I was struck by Al Gore straining every fibre of his existence to make his point that global warming was actual fact and not just some fringe point of view.
I have never seen such diverse data sets put together in such a visually compelling manner and with laser sharp focus to prove a hypothesis.
His thesis is so comprehensive that I have to agree.
He has us in thrall much like La belle dame sans merci.
Yet for all the work done by Al Gore (including hundreds of road trips across the globe to spread the same message) skepticism abounds. For example, in a 2007 Gallup study, only 29% of Indians perceived global warming to be a threat. These were of course people who were aware of global warming.
Why is it so difficult to convince people using just data? Especially for something that is as critical as our very survival.
Yet humanity is more than willing to accept ideas with far less data to support them.
Like the idea of heaven and hell.
I haven’t seen any data based film like “An Inconvenient Truth” about heaven or hell. Yet I can see far more people concerned about avoiding the mythical hell as compared to a certain hell on earth if we don’t prevent the oceans boiling over from global warming.
This got me thinking about how I would have concluded my presentation on global warming.
And I found a very close parallel in Pascal’s Wager.
French thinker Blaise Pascal’s wager goes as follows
- Man cannot use reason (and data) to prove the existence of god
- Since we cannot use reason we can only wager the existence of god
- And you must wager, If you want to safeguard your future
- If you believe in god & it turns out that god exists, then you win big time. If you don’t believe in god and he indeed exists, then you are in trouble. And all hell breaks out for you.
- In the event that god doesn’t exist, it doesn’t matter either way.
- Assigning probabilities to all four events above it can be proved that you are better off believing in god.
And so it is with global warming
Even if all the data in the world does not convince you, you are better off acting as if global warming existed.
For example, start walking more instead of taking the car.
If global warming does exist, then you have done your bit.
If global warming is a myth, then the walking will at least keep you fit.