Thursday, February 10, 2011

The People Who Make Sustainability Impossible, Ctd

From an article on New Scientist:
The new cadre of Republicans in Congress is packed with climate change sceptics, several of whom have promised to use their power to cast doubt on the underlying science.
Seriously? "several of whom have promised to use their power to cast doubt." I don't know about you, readers, but I never voted for an elected official yet who had "the power to cast doubt" in their job description. The obvious implication here is that not only are the scientists who have provided evidence of anthropogenic global warming absolutely wrong, but also it is the imminent duty of the Republican Congresspersons to show that wrongness (and their own righteousness rightness, by extension).
It seems to me that (in a sane world) elected officials who doubted (with or without good reason) the credibility of some scientists or the veracity of their claims should respond by either asking for more information and/or providing funding in order to further explore the topic until a strong enough consensus has been formed (both among the scientists themselves as well as the community at large) that the elected officials can write and pass reasonable legislation which both follows the recommendations of the quorum, but also leaves itself open for adjustment, if later advances in science cause the topic to be modified.

And yet, here in the United States, the general consensus has been reached. The climate change scientists, with all the alacrity they could muster, have appealed to both the public as well as the government to enact legislation. But here we are: the Republicans in Congress apparently.

So I would stop here, and say "the people who make sustainability impossible are Republicans in the House." But that would be unfair. The simple truth is that I suggested above that legislation should follow both the recommendations of scientists but also the quorum of a free society. And a sickening trend in the last three years has been the rapid rise of climate change skeptics in America. This shudder-inducing set of polls from Gallup last year points to the problem: a growing number of Americans either don't believe in global warming, or they are pointedly apathetic. Still more disturbing: a rapidly growing number doubt the credibility of climate scientists.

How do you convince 150 million skeptical people that radical changes in their way of life are necessary in order to achieve global sustainability? You don't.


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