Friday, April 21, 2017

Why the March for Science?

Truth Must Prevail
Human activity has always been in some sense an ongoing experiment. Progress is built on these experiments. But our experimentation can sometimes cause large unforeseen problems, and we sometimes find out the hard way. Toxins, radiation, and drug side effects are just a few examples.

Burning fossil fuels turns out to be another example. Subtle, initially invisible, but, as it turns out, extremely consequential. Everybody understands the immediate danger of a poisonous gas such as carbon monoxide, and we have taken steps to control it. Carbon dioxide is a different kind of danger. Carbon monoxide is an immediate and acute threat to human health. Carbon dioxide is a long-term threat to global climate stability.

But the path to understanding and dealing with these threats is fundamentally the same: through science. And so we develop an understanding of pollutants, measure them, and determine what is necessary to minimize the dangers.

This is not rocket science, but it is science. What has happened in the case of CO2, however, is that some very powerful interests don't like the prescription offered by our planetary doctors.

Their response has been to attack not only the message, but also ... the messengers. That's unfortunate for two fundamental reasons. First, it has postponed a rational timely response, which has made the threat all the more dire. Second, by attacking the very process of science itself, they have also confused the mechanisms by which we understand and address any problem. It is akin to attacking and undermining the structure of the English language to the point where communication between people can no longer take place.

This ill-advised mode of response is dangerous for the climate, dangerous for the bedrock practice of science on which our whole technological civilization rests, and dangerous for a fact-based political discourse on which our whole system of democratic government rests.

'Nuff said. More on the marches nationally and locally.

Text via The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial Is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy by Michael E. Mann and Tom Toles.

1 comment:

Rain Trueax said...

The essence of science is-- prove it. By the time mankind's involvement in this current cycle of climate change is proven, it may be past the tipping point. I think the distrust of science today, regarding climate change, is their belief that it's political not scientific. Since much of climate science is found in measuring ice, geologic and limited historical data, it's about projections. The right sees this as a partisan issue when it's really about survival.

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