Blaise Pascal’s famous wager was the if you believe in God and turn out to be incorrect, you have lost nothing — but if you don’t believe in God and turn out to be incorrect, you will go to hell. Therefore it is foolish to be an atheist.
In a column published in the Sydney Mornibg Herald, Barry Jones, former quiz champion and politican and now professorial fellow at the University of Melbourne, has proposed a new variant of the wager:
- “If we take action on climate change and disaster is averted, there will be massive avoidance of human suffering.
- If we take action and the climate change problem abates for other reasons, little is lost and we benefit from a cleaner environment.
- If we fail to act and disaster results, then massive suffering will have been aggravated by stupidity.
- If we do not take action and there is no disaster, the outcome will be due to luck alone, like an idiot winning the lottery.”
“We have nothing to loose and much to gain, action is in the national interest.”
He points out that Australia’s failure to act on climate change has not only delayed action on the issue but has produced “political mayhem” and reduced Australia’s international influence. In order to regain some international moral authority Australia needs to propose higher targets, develop new research programmes into ways of replacing fossil fuels and work constructively with the United States, Europe, China, India and Indonesia.