Pascal’s Wager and Climate Change

Choose the option that would benefit us most

Pascal on Climate Change

Industrialists, politicians and propagandists in their employ dismiss reports of destructive climate change caused by human activity as mere speculation. If you can’t conclusively prove your claims, they say, your theories are worthless and should be ignored. In order to protect their own commercial and political advantages, they reject suggestions that civilization may be severely damaged by human habits.
They are gambling with the future of humanity.

Similar Uncertainties

Blaise Pascal was an eminent 17th-century French intellectual who considered similar uncertainties about God and salvation. A mathematician, physicist, philosopher and writer, Pascal invented and marketed a functional mechanical calculator in the 1600s. His calculations influenced subsequent developments in geometry, calculus, probability theory, economics and hydrodynamics.

Pascal was a religious man who wrote in defense of the scientific method. Perhaps he is best known for what is variously called Pascal’s Wager, Pascal’s Gambit or the Pascal Option.

Pascal proposed that though many people are unsure whether God exists, their uncertainty should not prevent them from living a religious and moral life because they have everything to gain and little to lose by doing so. “Even if it should turn out that there is no God, the sheer risk of deciding against such a possibility warrants that we should take that option,” his reasoning went, according to Philosophy Online (http://www.philosophyonline.co.uk/pages/pascal.htm).

People who are unconvinced by evidence regarding climate change might consider applying similar logic. Radical climate change caused by human activity might damage civilization and cause billions of people to suffer. Progress toward cleaner, greener technology is self-protective and creates jobs. Even you’re uncertain about climate change and its causes, it make sense to choose the option that would benefit us most.


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