A few years back, I gave my daughter a book. It was a collection of sayings, words to live by that I had been collecting since she was born. Some were quotes from famous people, others were things I came up with on my own and then there were some lessons my dad had taught me.
Once done, I liked it so much, I decided to publish it, and did so. One of the things I told her was that, although science was perfect, it was the pursuit of knowledge, of the universe, scientists were not! They were mere mortals. As such, cursed, they were, with all the weaknesses of humans: greed, envy, vanity and so on.
As confirmation of this, I offer you the following bits of history. Some years ago, gasoline had lead in it. When I was a kid, it was, “Regular” gas, as opposed to gas without lead called unleaded, which was more expensive.
Lead became a part of any number of products, paint being a common one. This was despite the fact that people have known lead is bad for them for millennia; even the Ancient Romans knew it and still used it for their pipes and cooking pots. When scientists first sounded the alarm about lead, the industry was ready. They had their own cabal of scientists to refute them. They gave lectures, wrote reports and articles, even testified before government hearings: lead was a naturally occurring element and was perfectly safe.
We now know and understand just how bad lead is and, as such, it no longer is part of gasoline, paint and other products. It took years, many hearings and many scientists doing the old Chicken Little routine, but they fought the good fight, and won. Of course, in other countries that’s not always the case. Many Third World countries have lead in their gas or petrol.
Then there’s smoking. Years ago, scientists sounded the alarm that smoking was ultimately bad for people. The U.S. Surgeon General even recommended that warning labels be put on packages of cigarettes. The industry resisted, trotted out their scientists, that is: scientists who worked for them, and they said smoking was fine. There was nothing dangerous about it, it didn’t cause cancer or any other ailments; therefore no warnings were needed.
It took years. The warning labels went from mild to downright strong. The tobacco industry voluntarily pulled its advertising from television and radio. Congress had umpteen zillion hearings; science finally won out, nevertheless.
Now, we have a similar situation. Scientists all over the world are ringing the alarm about Climate Change. The thing is there have been studies and reports on this subject for just about a hundred years!
Granted, the first studies were theories as well as few and far between but confirmed. Still, coal, oil and other industries are doing what they always do when science doesn’t conform to their desire for profit: they just change the facts, so to speak.
Once again, they have their scientists, the ones that work for them, are bought and paid for by them, say anything to confuse the issue. They also order the politicians that they own to do the same. They talk about a conspiracy, a global cadre of climate change scientists bent on world domination and the enforcement of their liberal, communist, eco-centric extremist agenda on the rest of us. The result will be destruction of our economy and the loss of jobs.
I’m sorry, but I never met a climate change scientist, I don’t think there’s even a degree in that offered at any college, even the very liberal ones. I’ve met or heard speak scientists of varying disciplines: climate, marine biology, animal husbandry, paleontology, chemistry and so on speak on what they’ve observed all over the world for decades. These scientists run the gamut on political and social views, nation of origin and their area of expertise.
One of the other pearls of wisdom I put in that book to my daughter was this. If the science behind Global Warming is wrong, everything is fine. If the corporations and naysayers who claim it’s either not happening or is unimportant are wrong, we’re all dead meat!
Call me crazy, but I say: Err on the side of caution.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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