How to debate with people that say: It does not hurt to be precautions, even if CO2 is not a problem...
The 'Precautionary Principle' should work both ways. If a causal relationship between anthropogenic CO2 emissions and 'climate change' is uncertain, the 'Precautionary Principle' should restrain us from making drastic and impoverishing reductions in our energy usage to reduce CO2 emissions.
It cuts both ways. If we make it harder or more expensive for people in Africa to use their coal, it means they keep inhaling smoke from wood fires; babies get lung disease; forests are razed for fuel. Meanwhile electric trucks cost more to run, and that makes fresh food more expensive; desperate people eat more monkeys–wiping out another species; children die from eating meat that’s gone off or get Kwashiorkor–severe protein deficiency. More children could miss out on refrigerated vaccines and die of dysentery as a result. At the same time in the West, money could have been used for gene therapy or cancer research but wasn’t; the delay in medical advances means over 10 years, say, half-a-million people die who wouldn’t have if we’d put that money into medical labs instead of finding ways to pump a harmless gas underground. Either way we can’t afford to get this wrong. That’s why the responsible thing to do is look at the evidence.
Source : The Skeptics Handbook from Joanne Nova
There’s a point about cost-benefit here. How many people are we willing to kill in order to protect us from the unproven threat of CO2?
UPDATE: There is a good article on WattsUpWithThat about this principal.
I particularly like the comment from this article that talk about the Proactionary principle
An ethical principle formulated as part of extropian philosophy, the proactionary principle is formulated by the extropian philosopher Max More as follows:
People’s freedom to innovate technologically is highly valuable, even critical, to humanity. This implies several imperatives when restrictive measures are proposed: Assess risks and opportunities according to available science, not popular perception. Account for both the costs of the restrictions themselves, and those of opportunities foregone. Favor measures that are proportionate to the probability and magnitude of impacts, and that have a high expectation value. Protect people’s freedom to experiment, innovate, and progress.