Who can you trust? Reading some of the global warming-related sites, it is easy to see that a majority of articles and arguments are from people with “an ax to grind”. Some are “warmers” or even “members of the eco-Reich”, while others are “deniers”, and sometimes the political rhetoric and blind conservative hatred for global climate change proponent Al Gore and others are palpable. Is all this flap and fury necessary? Where is it coming from? Must it continue to cloud or color the science involved?
Politics are inevitable in human affairs. In fact, I am getting quite sick of the unscientific and emotional tone of a lot of the discussions. I guess it is inevitable that, whenever people get interested in something, opinions will vary and personal agendas will be triggered and enter into the fray. The saddest part is the polarization, mirroring the huge cultural split in the U.S., between conservatives and liberals. Not that I know what either of those words means, as they have been beaten to smithereens by obnoxious pundits over the past decade or two. It seems like wherever you read anything about global climate change, the discussion is soon reduced to a bitch-fest between Al Gore haters and seemingly paranoid people, and those who believe overpopulation and the extraction and use of ever-greater quantities of natural resources will lead us to dangers and problems.
The science will continue. Personally, I believe that the scientific work will go on, and we will find out more as studies are reported to the media. I also believe that conservative political strategists such as Karl Rove have orchestrated the news media and primarily conservative pundits to split the U.S. culture and put conservatives against liberals at every possible turn. Ranting and raving on the air excites people, negatively and positively, and generates ratings, so the media are happy to put forth as much verbal strife as possible. That’s unfortunate, because the anti-whatever rhetoric only clouds the issues and keeps some people from making well-considered, ecologically responsible choices. Note that being ecologically responsible is important whether you are concerned about climate change or not, whether you think humans are affecting the climate or not, and whether you think the climate is cooling or warming.
We’re all in this together. In the end everyone is looking for the same thing: security and freedom from worry. I believe those things can be found in the context of “Plan for worst but expect the best.” If expectations enhance the probability of results, then we should expect the best. The scouting “be prepared” directive is the counterpart that covers the bases. Smart people have a plan B – home evacuation, severe weather, and power outage plans, for example – and are always looking for ways to lessen their impact on the environment, knowing that our children and grandchildren will need resources as we do.
Misinformation and slanted commentary abound in U.S. media today, and possibly nowhere with the intensity seen around the climate change issue. Many blogs and a fair bit of pseudo-science are presented in an apparently-contrived attempt to put down concerns about climate change, and a number of such efforts and individuals have been proven to be funded by oil companies, among others with “an axe to grind”. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t valid questions around the global warming concept, but it makes it harder to get solid facts and even-handed interpretations and explanations. Unfortunately, through decades of effort, conservative/reactionary forces funded by relatively few wealthy organizations and individuals have clouded the science for their own benefit, and divided American culture into a right and left wing that don’t speak to each other as they should. I am hoping that will change sooner than later, as it serves everyone very poorly and exacerbates already-serious policy and image problems that have been created by current and previous U.S. administrations.
Deliberate propaganda exists, and the motives aren’t always clear. I don’t worry about the big propaganda purveyors, but I do watch for them. Some of them are subtle in their approach, and a few true scientists have been bought off by special interests such as oil companies. While a few interest groups push their own agendas, the society as a whole muddles along, pulled only slightly and slowly in any direction. Unfortunately, some of those organizations have pushed their agendas so consistently, and over such a number of years, that they have constrained public discussion, injected large amounts of misinformation that can take especially deep roots in those without the education to understand, and successfully polarized the U.S. along conservative-liberal lines. While I typically don’t believe in large conspiracies maintaining secrecy, that may not apply in the case of a Rupert Murdoch, for example.
Human nature is not going to change, and we must continue to read, learn, be wary of rhetoric, and make our own decisions. The flap and fury are inevitable, unfortunately, and the source is basically us. Also unfortunately, it will continue to cloud he science, but it is up to us to learn enough to know the difference and make our own decisions. I read about climate change on both sides of the opinion fence, making my own best judgments. If I see a word I detect as “rhetoric” in a blog or blog comment (such as “warmers” or “eco-Reich”, or a derisive mention of Al Gore) I am MUCH LESS likely to give credence to the person that wrote it, and often just skip ahead to the next entry. I feel I am better off reading what the more open-minded or at least sober people wrote, and there is plenty to be read. Politics and arguments are inevitable in almost any human dealing, and it up to us to (1) avoid our opinions being twisted by clever special interests of any ilk, to (2) learn what we can, and to (3) vote and make other decisions in ways that will move the world towards a sustainable situation free from dependence on our dwindling natural resources.
As always, I welcome your comments.
Watts Up With That, blog by Anthony Watts, climate scientist, ex-TV weatherman and weather entrepreneur
Accuweather Global Warming Blog, 2008, Brett Anderson
Yet Another Article on Global Warming, 2008, Fires of Heaven blogsite (example of climate-related blogging)
“Regardless the whole environmentally friendly fad Gore has started is good for the planet. Al Gore has started something that has had more benefits than drawbacks regardless over whether he is right or not. If you don’t want to give him credit for that your position is purely political.” by user Kirby on the Fires of Heaven blogsite, “Yet another article on global warming” (link above)