Yep, fair point. And there are certainly other examples - global treaties and agreements on protection of fisheries, e.g.- but it must be recognized that in each of these cases,<quoted text>
Sometimes human beings pull up an put the long term consequences over short term gains.
The latest example:
Before that, acid rain and CFCs.
Will human beings take the short term gains and screw up the environment for their grandchildren?
Well, there are plenty of greedy lying bastards who'd like to do so.
a) real and severe consequences (minimata disease, ozone depletion, dead lakes in the Northeast) were being demonstrably and inarguably experienced in the immediate present, not speculatively 50 or 100 years down the road, and
b) the "fix" was relatively simple and low-impact - remove some specific compounds from commercial use that each represented a trivial percentage of the total economy, and for which technology/product substitutions were readily available.
c) acid rain in particular doesn't represent an encouraging example of the kind of global cooperation required to address AGW, merely one of a single country - the US - mandating a readily-available technology (FGD) on power plants at minor incremental cost. Coal plants around the world continue to spew unregulated megatonnes of sulfur and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere causing acid rain around the globe in places like most of eastern Europe from Poland northward into Scandinavia, southeastern coastal China, and Taiwan.(And let's not miss the opportunity the acid rain story affords to be reminded yet again how dangerously incompetent well-intentioned Governments are in picking and mandating technology; the US government's mandating catalytic converters on autos to cut unburned HC emissions and smog has had the undesirable side effect of substantially _increasing_ emissions of nitrogen oxides,_worsening_ the acid rain problem. Not to mention increasing releases of N2O, a greenhouse gas over three hundred times more potent than CO2, as I know you're aware).
So these examples of enlightened collective action on a global scale really don't even approach the kind of leap required to address AGW to any substantial degree - asking 6 billion people to stop combusting carbon-based fuels for which no adequate substitute presently exists or is even on the horizon, and just take the hit on their living conditions and economic well-being, to avoid conjectured predictions of bad consequences generations from now?(Yes, I know you're seeing red over my use of the term "conjecture" - An opinion or conclusion formed on the basis of incomplete information - but however certain and complete the scientific community may consider the science behind these predictions re: AGW to be, they are not 100% complete or certain, and an true scientist speaking honestly with integrity must and would freely admit they are properly said to represent conjecture, albeit highly reliable conjecture. Political activists and anti-globalist ideologues riding AGW as a stalking horse for other agendas, of course - not so much ...).
All of which is just to explain why I don't find in these examples much reason to think the kind of unprecedented leap in enlightened collective human action on a global scale required to bend the global T curve down to any significant degree is within the realm of reality. Experience tells us whatever action does manage to emerge from the well-intentioned global collective is as likely to create even bigger unanticipated woes in other areas ...
So - will human beings take the short term gains and screw up the environment for their grandchildren? Yes, Virginia - I'm afraid the preponderance of all the millenia of evidence says they probably will.
And yes, sadly greedy lying bastards have always been in plentiful supply in the real world, and always will be.