Climate change ‘deniers’ are a never-ending source of frustration and dismay to those who believe that global warming is real and already having an adverse effect. To them, the time for debating its existence is over and the conclusion inescapable—human-caused activity is altering our world in ways we never dreamed possible. Unless a comprehensive global plan to combat these effects is implemented very soon, the future of our earth, as we know it, is in peril.
It’s no longer a debate because the evidence, studied and analyzed and critiqued by scientists the world over, overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that human activity, specifically the use of fossil fuels to power almost every component of our society, is altering the planet’s climate in an adverse way.
Efforts to discredit the scientific evidence are often financed by the fossil fuel industry and multi-billion dollar corporations with a vested interest in maintaining the conventional energy industry. Consequently, the ‘denial’ movement is most often ridiculed and criticized for either its greed and self-interest or its ignorance and stupidity. Science is not, and should not be, a political football, to be altered, modified, or ignored, to suit anyone’s preconceived beliefs or prejudices.
There is an inference in this debate, that if one wants to find the heart and soul of backward, uninformed, uneducated, anti-scientific thought, one need not look further than the right-wing Christian, conservative political movement in America.
But those who invoke science as the last word cannot pick and choose its application, any more than a conservative can reject the science out of hand. While ‘progressives’ mock their conservative cousins for their climate change denial tendencies, there are some inconsistencies and contradictions–even hypocrisies— that need to be explained by them as well.
For example, one of the most respected climatologists in the world is NASA’s James Hansen. He is, to many, the Father of Climate Change. Hansen believes we must end our use of fossil fuels soon or face catastrophe. But Hansen also believes that the best way to meet our ever-expanding energy needs is to embrace nuclear power on a massive scale. In fact, most of the scientific community believes that the latest technology can make nuclear power safe and economical and help drastically reduce green house emissions. But most opposition to nuclear power comes from the same constituency that cites the science as proof of global warming.
Most scientists believe that GMOs—genetically modified organisms–as a food source of the future, are safe and, indeed, essential for a world population that may exceed 10 billion by mid-century. But opposition comes mainly from progressive environmentalists.
More…The recent outbreak of measles across the country has exposed a growing irrational opposition to vaccinations that can prevent this kind of childhood disease. The scientific community overwhelmingly, almost unanimously, believes that the resistance to these vaccines borders on insanity. Some have even suggested that parents who fail to provide vaccinations for their children should be held criminally responsible.
But where is the resistance coming from? Not from rural Mississippi. One of the lowest vaccination rates in the country can be found in Marin County, California. It is one of the most affluent and educated areas in the United States and one of its most liberal–it cast 78% of its votes for Obama in 2008.
In Portland, Oregon, one of the most progressive and open-minded cities on the West Coast, its citizens recently voted to ban the fluoridation of its water supply. Science says fluoride is safe; Portland’s progressives say ‘no.’
Clearly, when it comes to science, both sides of the political spectrum are inclined to pick and choose their ‘proof,’ depending on their own political and ideological beliefs. By embracing only the science that ‘fits’ their particular philosophies, and rejecting the ones that don’t, both sides run the risk of dumbing down any intelligent, fact-based discussion of the issues, and their own credibility as well.
Jim Stiles is Founder and Co-Publisher of the Canyon Country Zephyr.
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