Earth Day

Google offers a cool Earth Day logo on their website:

earthday07.gif

… and sets alarm bells ringing in the conservative blogosphere, which duly brings up Al Gore and then brings him down. I am no fan of Mr. Gore, or any political party for that matter, but there is little that is scientifically wrong about An Inconvenient Truth. It is a travesty that any discussion on global warming (charmingly euphemized as global climate change) inevitably begins with a political bias, when it should remain strictly a scientific issue. I participated in a passionate, and occasionally impolite debate about global warming on a public message board recently, and it was interesting to see that the people who do not accept that anthropogenic emissions affect global warming were the same people who opposed stricter gun control after the Virginia Tech massacre.

My (perhaps naive) view is this: A discussion on global warming will have an impact on political decision-making, but it ought not to begin with a political spin designed to impact the decision. Empirical observations, provided that they are honestly obtained and thoroughly validated, express the state of the world as it is, and do not admit subjective points of view. If a glacier recedes by a certain amount every year, then its recession is independent of the political slant of the observer and his funding agency, and there is no point in denying that it is happening. The objective of the global warming debate ought to be about softening man’s ecological footprint on the only planet in the observable universe that is known to support life. Given what could be at stake, it is better to err on the side of caution. Even if everyone does not agree that the current trend of elevated temperatures is more serious than a merely cyclic phenomenon of global warming/cooling, even if everyone does not agree that said trend is due to human activity, a little paranoia wouldn’t go astray.

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4 thoughts on “Earth Day”

  1. I can’t for the life of me imagine why more people aren’t this rational. Is there something in the water — Or, more likely, in the french fries — that prevents Americans from being objective?

  2. “a little paranoia wouldn’t go astray” — especially if it means sitting down around a table and observing the problem objectively, then thinking about what we really want, what we really need, and what we can really do. Wait. Isn’t this what politics should always be about?

  3. BL, I am not sure if I am correct, but I think that the reason people get lost in the political quagmire has got less to do with global warming and more to do with the other positions that their favorite party espouses. Perhaps, people want very much to be identified in a particular group, and thus they buy all the group’s positions wholesale without considering each one individually on its own merits.

    Mandarine, alas that does not seem to be the case. We get lost in Spin Alley so often that it is difficult to know if we are thinking correctly or not (and this includes my current post on global warming!). I watched “Thank You for Smoking” recently and though it obviously takes spin to great extremes, it was scary to see how easily one can defend, even glorify what appears to be a hopelessly indefensible position.

  4. Bravo! I worry so much that the politics getting in the way is going to be the death of the planet as we know it, and I cannot believe that governments will put the future lives of their citizens at risk over their own precious, transitory campaigns. Still, I suppose they’ve put their lives at risk in the past for just as little.

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