My basic question is: Can anyone name a grand-scale human intervention in nature that did not lead to unintended consequences that were on a par with the thing we were trying to "fix"?
- Soil erosion? bring in Kudzu, Russian Olive, and Salt Cedar
- Wildfires? Fight them and allow a fuel inventory to build up so large that when the forests catch fire today they burn so hot that they sterilize the soil and spread so fast that they can't be contained.
- Hole in the ozone layer? Ban the most effective refrigerant ever developed, ban effective propellants in spray cans, then find that the ozone layer is patchy and has always been patchy and the R-12 and spray cans had nothing to do with the hole (and the original data was fabricated in the first place).
- Floods? Install dams and find that the Grand Canyon is filling in with silt because it needs floods. So do farmlands. I'm not saying that flood control is bad (but many environmentalists are saying exactly that), but we have to accept the unintended consequences.
- Eliminate predators? The prey animals lose their fear and congregate closer to rivers, eating the plants that stabilize the banks, turning rivers into swamps.
People frequently say "what if you are wrong and ACC is real? We have to do something" My answer is always "engineers can deal with conditions that develop, our track record with proactive interventions is so bad that that is really the best we can do."
David Simpson, PE
In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist