One of my favourite movies is “Spartacus,” despite the fact that it has a rather downer ending. I like to focus on the performances: Tony Curtis, Charles Laughton and, most especially, Peter Ustinov. There is one line that Laughton says, which that often rings in my mind: politics is a practically business. Then another line about politics is memorable: politics is the art of the possible.
Politics has many parts, but something it is not, is scientific. Science understands the universe. Here’s the thing: the universe doesn’t give a damn what we want. One of my idols, the great scientist, Carl Sagan, pointed out the universe is not benign or evil, merely indifferent.
Since the issue of Climate Change became important, the GOP has been doing what politicians always do: confuse the issue with nonsense. First, they ignored it. Then, as the summers grew hotter, they used every big winter storm as unassailable evidence that nothing was wrong. They continued to confuse the issue by trying to turn the weather into the climate, which are two different things. The next talking point was that the world was getting warmer, but it had nothing to do with humans. No, it was merely the cyclic nature of the Earth’s climate. They used that one for a long while.
Finally, my favourite talking point of all time: we can’t have a debate on the issue? It’s your way or the highway.
Right, let’s have a debate about Climate Change. In fact, let’s debate a whole bunch of scientific principles and laws. For myself, I think we need to address the whole gravity issue. I don’t know about you, but thirty-two feet per second per second is just plain wrong. Gravity should be thirty feet per second per second. Isn’t that a much better value? What do you say about of Pi? I mean, come on, 3.144, ad infinitum ad nauseam. I mean, again, that’s wrong. Now, I realize that we can’t change it to a nice round number like three, which wouldn’t work. That would cause major trouble in all types of calculations. As a little side note, a state legislature once DID try to legislate Pi as being set to three. Fortunately, the bill failed to pass. There’s nothing to say we can’t at least set it to a nice easy to remember value. I say we make it 3.1416; that’s a basic value, which will work for calculations we need. Why are we wasting time calculating it out to hundreds and even thousands of places? Doing that is like passing a bill in the House of Representatives repeatedly, despite knowing that it’ll never pass in the Senate and, even if it did, the President would veto it.
My point is that debate is for politics, which is a practical business where compromise and the art of the possible are welcome. In science, we gather facts and draw conclusions based on those facts. Climate Change is not open to debate, it is taking place around us every day; we’ll see it, again, this winter and next summer.
Here’s a prediction. The winter of 2014-15 will be short and intense, whereas the summer of 2015 will be the hottest on record. Is my prediction a result of debate among my friends? No, it’s taking the best available scientific data on the issue and applying that information to our future.
I have to wonder. How much longer will we debate how to address the issue? How much time do we have to act before it is too late?
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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